Scotland is on every golfer's wish list, but the truth is many Americans never make it.
They think it's too far and more importantly, too expensive. The experts at Golfbreaks.com want to toss that stereotype in a big old pot bunker and bury it. The England-based tour operator recently launched a Web site specifically for Americans, USA.Golfbreaks.com.
"We want to get rid of that myth that going to the United Kingdom is out of your budget," says Daniel Grave, a founding partner of Golfbreaks.com and the CEO of Golfbreaks USA. "There are 30 million golfers in North America (including Canada). A lot of them tune out when we start talking about a trip overseas. They assume they can't afford it. We want to educate the American golfer. You can make that golfing dream come true."
Golfbreaks.com, a company with roots just outside London in the shadow of the Windsor Castle, recently opened up an office in Charleston, S.C. It has arranged golf trips for more than 1.5 million British and Irish golfers and has partnered with the European Tour and The PGA of Great Britain & Ireland, but now it's expanding stateside.
There are dozens of other qualified tour operators. Where Golfbreaks.com aims to stands apart is its philosophy to cater to all budgets, not just tracking down the best links in the world. Sometimes, the best trips overseas mix big name courses with a few hidden gems to keep the vacation affordable.
The key to enjoying a golf getaway to Scotland is to avoid trying to cover too much ground. Golfbreaks.com offers numerous packages to Scotland's best golf destinations. Here are two different itineraries in each region to showcase the variety of price points and experiences:
St. Andrews -- the "Home of Golf" -- is often the first choice for Americans.
Package 1 for $5,985 per person: Seven nights of bed and breakfast at the five-star Old Course Hotel St. Andrews includes chauffeur-driven transportation to play golf at Kingsbarns Golf Links, Carnoustie Golf Links' Championship Course and the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles, as well as rounds on the Old Course and New Course at St Andrews. Two lunches and one dinner are included.
Package 2 for $1,555 pp: Seven nights B&B at the Ardgowan Hotel with a rental car includes rounds on the St. Andrews Jubilee Course, Crail Balcomie Links, Scotscraig Golf Course, Carnoustie Burnside Course and Elie.
Best Golfbreaks.com tip: You have a solid shot to get on the Old Course through the ballot. It's not guaranteed, but freeing up a day to have a go is well worth it. With the ballot 48 hours in advance now, it affords more flexibility in booking golf elsewhere if need be. Determined golfers can get up with sunrise and join the queue for limited tee times as well.
East Lothian, which is marketed as Scotland's "Golf Coast," is located around the bay from St. Andrews and just a short drive from Edinburgh.
Package 1 from $3,270 pp: Seven nights B&B at the five-star Greywalls Hotel adjacent to Muirfield includes chauffeur-driven transportation to play golf at the neighboring private clubs of Muirfield and Renaissance and rounds at the North Berwick West Links, Gullane No. 1 and Dunbar.
Best Golfbreaks.com tip: You can't leave without a pint, nice meal and some theatrical bar games at Duck's at Kilspindie in Aberlady or eating a lobster pot from the Lobster Shack & The Rocketeer just steps from 18th green of North Berwick.
Although the drives between courses are longer in the Highlands, this is beautiful country worth touring.
Package 1 from $2,750 pp: Four nights B&B at the four-star Thistle Inverness Hotel and three at the four-star Meldrum House Hotel includes chauffeur-driven transportation to play golf at Royal Dornoch's Championship Course, Castle Stuart Golf Links, Nairn, Royal Aberdeen's Balgownie Links and Trump International Golf Links.
Package 2 from $1,830 pp: Four nights B&B at the four-star Royal Golf Hotel in Dornoch and three nights at the four-star Thistle Aberdeen City Centre, The Caledonian includes a car rental to play Tain, Brora, Murcar Links, Royal Dornoch's Struie Course and Newburgh on Ythan.
Best Golfbreaks.com tip: Half of all Scottish whisky distilleries are located between Inverness and Aberdeen. Or why not visit the famous Loch Ness? The Hootananny in Inverness is a great place for live music, good food and local beers.
Ayrshire blossomed into a links golf destination when wealthy Scots from Edinburgh and Glasgow began taking the train down to visit the Ayrshire coast on weekends and holidays.
Package 1 for $2,680: Three nights B&B at the five-star Trump Turnberry, a Luxury Collection Resort, and four nights at the four-star Marine Hotel Troon includes chauffeur-driven transportation to play golf at Turnberry's Ailsa Course, Prestwick, Royal Troon's Old Course, Dundonald Links and Western Gailes.
Package 2 for $1,390 pp: Seven nights B&B at the South Beach Hotel includes rental car to play the Gailes Links, Dundonald Links, Western Gailes, Irvine Bogside Course and the Kilmarnock Barassie Course.
Best Golfbreaks.com tip: A short ferry ride to the Kintyre Peninsula to play Machrihanish and Machrihanish Dunes and visit the whiskey distillery is also highly recommended.