Plan Ahead: How To Experience The 2022 Open In St Andrews
With the U.K. still under COVID-19 protocols for this year’s golf championship set to take place in July at Royal St George’s in Kent, the number of tickets available remains restricted. But that won’t be the case next year when the 150th Open returns to the birthplace of golf, Scotland’s Old Course, St Andrews. Organizers are anticipating a record crowd, though, making it necessary to reserve way ahead for both tickets and a place to stay. Fortunately, there are a number of choices available not far from the links through Loyd & Townsend Rose, specialists in Scottish great houses and castles.
One option 20 minutes from St Andrews near the town of Cupar, Fife is Birkhill House, the ancestral home of the Earls of Dundee completed in 1858. The castle has plush décor created by the late Countess and a picturesque setting: in the middle of a wooded 2000 acre estate and on the shore of the Tay Estuary. That gives guests the opportunity to fish for salmon and sea trout when they’re not watching golf or to play themselves in one of the surrounding courses. Other activities include game and clay pigeon shooting, swimming in the outdoor pool, tennis and croquet and sightseeing Edinburgh an hour away. The castle can accommodate 22 guests in 12 bedrooms (two are singles.)
An hour away (or a short helicopter flight; there’s a helipad on the estate), Auchterarder House in Perthshire has the advantage of being near the famed Gleneagles Hotel and its many facilities including three world class golf courses and the Michelin two star Restaurant Andrew Fairlie. 20 guests can be accommodated in 10 bedrooms in the recently renovated 19th century manor house (sofa beds for children and additional bedrooms in the adjacent lodge are also available.) Other features of the house include a grand drawing room, library, reception hall, cinema, gym and billiard room. The 20 acres of grounds include manicured gardens and a lochan, the Scottish term for a small lake.
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Also an hour away from St Andrews, or less by helicopter, Kinross House has been described as the most important neoclassical Palladian mansion in Scotland, dating from 1685. It certainly has the history: created by Sir William Bruce, the founder of classical architecture in Scotland who rebuilt the Royal Palace of Holyrood House in Edinburgh. Also included as part of the property is Lochleven Castle on Castle Island in Loch Leven bordering the property; the medieval castle was the site of Mary, Queen of Scots’ imprisonment.
Within the house are 14 grand bedrooms accommodating 28 guests with 10 additional rooms available in the 17th century Coach House, the estate’s original stable block which also contains a spa with three cottage style treatment rooms. Within the house is a formal dining room with seating for 32 guests; the Coach House more informally can accommodate up to 60. The house is also part museum with important Scottish art on the walls of the opulent salons. Outdoors, the 100 acres of parkland include formal gardens also designed by Sir William Bruce. Clay pigeon shooting, archery and falconry are available on the estate with trout fishing accessible on the loch.
Apart from the activities on the estates, Loyd & Townsend Rose can also arrange a variety of diversions to intensify the Scottish experience. They range from castle explorations—Scone Palace where Scottish kings were crowned, Glamis Castle, the inspiration for the setting of Macbeth and the ancestral home of Britain’s Queen Mother, Blair Castle, the repository of a vast collection of armaments, furniture and paintings collected by 19 generations of the Dukes of Atholl—a typical ceilidh musical experience, a visit to Scotland’s family run, intimate Edradour Distillery to off road driving and whitewater rafting. Even though golf is intrinsic to Scotland, those who venture to the country for it learn that they can experience so much more.