With more than 13,000 reservations being accepted by Royal Dornoch Golf Club, General Manager Neil Hampton has revealed that the club will be closing its doors for this season because there are not enough tee times available.
The demand from an international membership – many wanting to visit Scotland with travel restrictions now being eased- piles pressure on administrative team at RDGC who were already struggling before adding these extra tasks onto their plate!
“We have reached capacity very quickly. This is unprecedented,” explained Neil.
“But I can’t say I’m surprised. Past experience tells us that whatever world event we endure, such as a banking crisis, an ash cloud or the tragedy of 9/11, we bounce back very quickly.”
“You hear talk of tourism taking three or four years to recover. But here at Royal Dornoch we are very fortunate. We have a prestigious links where golf has been played for more than 400 years and golfers from near and far are eager to experience it.”
“Normally we look forward to welcoming 12-14,000 visitors a year to Royal Dornoch.
We are always a busy course and tee times are always in demand. We were already up to over 13,000 visitor bookings so we had to grasp the nettle. We have tried to be fair to everyone.
“Because of the pandemic, lockdowns and the inability of our many members from abroad being unable to travel there has been pent-up demand.”
“We have a huge out-of-town membership wanting to come back this year. They have been starved of the Championship course in particular for the past two years.
It was a difficult decision but we felt obliged to give as many of our members as possible the opportunity to play.”
Neil stressed that visitors can still enjoy access to the Struie sister course if they are planning a pilgrimage to the Highlands.
“The Struie is a memorable challenge in its own right.”
“We are forever being told that if it was located in Scotland’s Central Belt it would be packed to the gunnels.
It has tended to live in the shadow of the Championship course. Many people come here without even realising we have another course.
“It is a fast-running links in the summertime and perfect for playing as part of a break which might include the likes of Fortrose, Golspie, Tain and Brora. Given the quality of these courses you’d be very well satisfied with your links golf experience.”
“While the Championship course has undulations, huge raised greens with challenging borrows and deep bunkers, the Struie is flatter and a bit tighter, with smaller greens.
It tests different aspects of your game and we find many of our low handicappers struggle to score low on it. Your short game has to be equally tidy.
“We are delighted that The R&A has selected Royal Dornoch to host both the 72-hole men’s and the women’s Senior Amateur Championships this year.
The first two rounds in each event will be played over the Championship and the Struie, which tells you all you need to know about the quality of the Struie golf course.”
Portmarnock Golf Club, located within a picturesque curve of coastline, 10 miles to the north of Dublin City in Ireland and only a 15-minute drive from Dublin Airport is another Championship Course that has needed to put the brakes on accepting any more bookings for 2022.
Andrew Whitelaw, General Manager of Portmarnock Golf Club wrote to us recently explaining the situation:
We have certainly seen a big increase in bookings and players visiting us at the club since the lifting of travel restrictions as well as a surge in bookings for the 2022 season including the advance payment of deposits to guarantee bookings which are in place.
As I am sure you are seeing at other top flite venues, inventory for the 2022 season is almost exhausted.
We are currently fully booked for the season and will now be running a cancellations waitlist for operators looking to book golf for 2022. We hope that we may be able to release a further tranche of inventory for the season but as it currently stands the books are closed for further bookings.
This extremely unusual situation is both a positive story but also perhaps frustrating for some of your clients looking at 2022.
We are as always available to discuss your bookings and assist where possible to ensure we provide you as many options as possible.”
A similar situation appears too in Northern Ireland with Royal County Down Golf Club and Royal Portrush Golf Club.
The movement of bookings over the past two years has created a bottleneck for demand on both the Championship Links at Royal County Down and Dunclude Links at Royal Portrush from April through to September.
Recently, at the PGA Show in Orlando, Florida during January 2022 the General Manager for Royal County Down Golf Club, David Morgan and the General Manager for Royal Portrush Golf Club, John Lawlor were in attendance with TheGolfPA on the Golf Ireland stand where we got to hear firsthand how to demand had been for travelling golfers.
John Lawlor said: “We saw a number of visitors take the opportunity to book tee times last minute towards the end of the 2021 season as the restrictions eased and we had some late cancellations open up, but these were snapped up very quickly.
Other than the beginning and end of the season in 2022, it is unlikely that we will have any space for anything more than the odd single golfer looking to join an already booked 3Ball, or perhaps a pair at most. Such has been the pent up demand from golfers to come and play Dunluce at Royal Portrush Golf Club since we had The Open there in 2019.
We had a tsunami of interest come in after The Open for 2020 and certainly the TV coverage of Shane Lowry walking down the 18th with the crowds bursting through the marshalls barricade made for such a dramatic finish that Portrush was hailed as the No.1 course to play the following year. Unfortunately due to the circumstances over the past 18 months, that was not to be…”
“With the recent announcement from The R&A that The 153rd Open will return to be played on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush in 2025, we can see that booking enquiries will again be in high demand over the coming years. We are advising all of our Tour Operator clients that a 24 month window is advisable when making plans for their golfers looking to travel to ensure they get the tee times they desire.”
David Morgan agreed: “Royal County Down Golf Club will open our books for the 2023 season within the next couple of months to allow our team to manage everything as best as possible for enquiries.
We don’t take advance bookings prior to the books opening, so Tour Operators can get the chance now to programme their clients itineraries and be prepared to make booking deposits as soon as we are open. A 24 month window is a sensible outlook to have things in place moving forward.”
Royal Portrush and Royal County Down, like Royal Dornoch have additional courses which are available to visiting golfers.
The Valley Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club is a Championship Links Course in its own right and is a fabulous test to golfers of all abilities. It is the course used each year during the Causeway Coast Amateur Golf Tournament as well as the Stroke Play part of the North of Ireland Championship.
The Annesley Links at Royal County Down is flatter and shorter than its bigger brother, but utilises the same linksland and is challenging nonetheless.
David Morgan continued: “We have increasingly seen more interest in visiting golfers booking to play the Annesley Links, sometimes considered a warm up round before playing the Championship Links.”
The price-point allows those who wouldn’t normally pay the fees demanded by the likes of County Down or Portrush for the big courses, to still get the same feeling that you would which is opening up the game to a very diverse clientele to suit their budgets.
Whether it is a trip to Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England or Wales, TheGolfPA.com is the perfect partner for your group to work with to create the ultimate bespoke golf trip designed specifically to your requirements. With payment plans that can be spread out over 24 months, there is a solution for all golfers to play the courses of your dreams.
There are hundreds of magnificent courses still available to play throughout Ireland and the UK during the 2022 season, and we guarantee that all golfers can achieve the ultimate level of satisfaction for their trip with a tour booked with us!