Long before I became the editor of this magazine, I was traveling to Scotland to play golf. This photo, from one such voyage, dates to the mid-nineties, when my brother and I flew over to play Turnberry, Royal Troon, Cruden Bay and the Old Course at St. Andrews, along with a few unsung local tracks that appealed to us. We had a reservation to stay and play at Turnberry, but otherwise we just freewheeled it. Arriving in town, we'd drop into a pub for a pint and ask the barkeep if he knew a good place to stay. Usually the answer was: "Right here." (Many Scottish pubs, it turns out, are also B&Bs.) In St. Andrews, as I recall, we then inquired, "How do you get on the Old Course, anyway?" The publican told us about the lottery, at which point we drained our glasses and ran to enter. We were tearing up the Auld Sod the next morning.
Since then I've been back to Scotland numerous times and played a score or more of the great, classic courses; eaten at many of the country's best restaurants (yes, fine dining in Scotland is no longer an oxymoron); and slept under some spectacular roofs (most notably, those of Skibo Castle and Gleneagles).
Whichever way I've traveled, these trips have been worth every penny and pound. There's no denying, however, that occasionally going the less-expensive route can be satisfying. Not all of the world's pleasures are pricey—particularly in Scotland, a country whose reputation for thriftiness was hard-won and is still highly prized. Certainly some of that spirit inhabits my Yankee soul . . . which, now that I think about it, may help explain why I love Scotland so much.
In any event, even the wealthiest appreciate great value, so this issue is dedicated to that topic. See our advice on off-season deals at top resorts (page 38) and a special guide to the best golf in Canada's Atlantic Provinces (page 106), where a dollar is still worth a dang dollar.
But especially see James Finegan's piece on playing Scotland the old-fashioned way (page 90), not by pinching pennies, necessarily, but by giving them a second look before letting go. I'm not saying you should follow his advice at every stop (to me, caddies are never optional; they're indispensable). But if you want to play golf in Scotland, now and then you might think about being as Scottish as you can be.