Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The British Open - An Interview with Noel Murphy

While many golfers will tune in to watch the British Open at Muirfield in Gullane, Scotland, where the first round begins July 18, some may still hesitate at trying their hand at Scottish links golf. Wind, rain and blind holes are, literally, par for the course in the game’s homeland.

Noel Murphy, President of Celtic Tours World Vacations, offers a convincing defense of playing under the country’s sometimes inhospitable skies. “What people lose sight of is that the conditions are part of the game, the history, the culture.
Below are  excerpts from a conversation with Mr. Murphy, on how to plan golf in Scotland or Ireland and play some of the world’s top Link’s courses. 
Q. On a tour of Scotland’s best golf courses, what’s your first stop? 
A  #1 would be The Old Course at St. Andrews is where it all began. Kingsbarns would be another great links golf experience within the city of St. Andrews, right by the North Sea. That’s very much part of the links playing experience, the sea. If the wind is blowing from the east, you’re getting the wind from Russia and Scandinavia.  It can be cold, but not all the time, and if raining the driving rain can really make the golf more challenging. Some days you get no wind or rain , and it’s a totally different game.
Q. Where to next? 
A. Head inland and stop at the Ladybank Golf Club and then continue on to Gleneagles. One can play any of our courses: the P.G.A. course designed by Jack Nicklaus or the King’s and the Queen’s courses.  There’s lots to do besides golf: the spa, the Michelin-starred Andrew Fairlie restaurant, tennis, whisky tours.
Then go southwest to Turnberry on the Atlantic. It has an excellent hotel, and the Ailsa course is fantastic. The ruins of the Scottish king Robert the Bruce’s castle you can see from the ninth hole. Around there are a whole host of hidden gems like the Prestwick and the Royal Troon, and that’s what you really want to get to in Scotland.
Q. And if you were to go north? 
A. The Royal Aberdeen is a good golf course by the sea. Nairn, that’s farther north. Farther still is Royal Dornoch. Tom Watson said that it’s one of his favorite golf courses.
Q. How difficult is it to get on these courses? 
A. A lot of these smaller members courses like Muirfield, where the British Open is being held, Prestwick and Royal Troon, they have been around for hundreds of years. They’re run by the members for the members; consequently it’s not as straightforward as getting your credit card. But you can get on these courses on certain days and times. Check with Tour Operators such as .
They know the local scene, local people, and will do a good job.

Q. What about Golf in Ireland:
A.  Golf packages to Scotland or Ireland can be taken separately or on its own. Ireland is a short Ferry ride from Scotland to Larne, just outside Belfast or one can avail of the several flights from Glasgow or Edinburgh to Dublin, Belfast or Derry.  Once in Ireland one can take advantage of the outstanding world top ranked links courses such as Royal Co. Down, Royal Porthrush, Port Stewart,  Balllyliffin, Donegal,  Sligo & Enniscrone.  You can then venture south to Baltray, Portmarnock, Royal Co. Dublin. On the extreme  Southwest coast you have world famous courses such as Lahinch, Ballybunion, Tralee and Waterville.   On the Southeast side you have the famed Old Head, which juts out from the mainland. Many other links courses are available at reasonable rate such as Carne &  Ballyconneely on the west coast. Scotland and Ireland have over 1400 golf courses between them to choose from. Many of the courses are “Hidden Gems” and green fees cost about half of the bigger named courses. They offer as good if not better golfing on scenic links courses.
Q. During the British Open, Hotels and other services can be more expensive than normal, what is your preferred time of season.
A.  For Scotland or Ireland the best time to travel is at the end of April up to June and after that I prefer September or October. Weather can be different depending on which coast          you select. Ireland’s Northeast coast is similar to Scotland’s West coast and both can be up to 10 degrees warmer than Scotland’s Northeast coast. High temperatures can range from 58 degrees to 78 with lows of 54 to 60 degrees.
Ireland’s South east and South west tend to have better weather most of the year, but usually only by a few degrees, wind may not be as strong as Ireland North or Scotland. The West coast of Ireland is on the Atlantic and one can experience a good deal of sunshine with wind and some small showers. At the same time one can go for weeks without rain or strong winds.
For additional information call the golf experts at; Celtic Tours World vacations, 800-833-4373 or visit our web site at;  

Noel F. Murphy
Celtic Tours World Vacations
1860 Western Ave,
Albany, NY. 12203
Tel: 518-862-0042



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