When Senior Writer Kiel Christianson wrote "If cost is a deciding factor, Ireland has the edge over Scotland," in September of 2005, it was at a time when those looking to book golf vacations were noticing, as well.
Now, for travelers looking to book a vacation, price will likely not be the deciding factor between a choice of Ireland or Scotland.
"Ireland as a country has improved by leaps and bounds over the years," said Peter Hazelton of Pioneer Golf. "And with prosperity comes higher prices."
While Scotland remains a favorite destination for American golfers, Ireland has slowly been gaining prominence as a nation with a historic golfing past. Drawn by that, and lower prices, Ireland slowly began to siphon some golfers who may have planned first to go to Scotland. Still, with tourism now a priority in the nation many travelers are still choosing Ireland.
"Up until a few years ago, Scotland was more expensive, but that's certainly not the case anymore," said Hazelton, who was born in Glasgow. "We have more business going to Scotland, but I certainly detected there's an ever-increasing number of clients going to Ireland."
So with price for travel, accommodations evening out, more or less (It tends to be cheaper to stay in Ireland, but less for transportation in Scotland), what are some other deciding factors?
For those looking to get as much golfing in as possible and are willing to play a lot of different golf courses, Ireland likely will still hold the advantage, as many of lesser-name courses will run less than their Scotland equivalent.
"My impression after being to Ireland last summer and Scotland a couple years before that was that the top-flight courses in both are beastly expensive," Christianson said. "However, the second and third-tier courses in Ireland seem to be lesser known and more reasonable."
Of course, there are many that don't need a deciding factor and are dedicated to playing golf in Scotland, especially at the legendary St. Andrews.
"I think it's still very true to say there are more Americans going to Scotland than Ireland," Hazelton said. "I think St. Andrews plays a big part in that."
Hazelton added that when golfers and travelers think of Ireland, they think of the Republic of Ireland. But he said they should consider taking a look at the golf courses of Northern Ireland, as well.
Northern Ireland has some very good golf courses and is across the board less expensive than either of those two countries. In relative terms, a pretty good value for your money.
"Northern Ireland has been avoided for the recent past because of the troubles there, but now it seems golfers and travelers are discovering it. And it really wouldn't do travelers any harm at all to check out the Ulster area," said Hazelton.
In the end, for many travelers, a trip to either Scotland or Ireland will depend on a variety of factors, but be a trip that will easily meet their expectations.
"There are an awful lot of Irish people in the U.S. and I think the Irish tend to take their background seriously," Hazelton said. "Quite a lot of people I sell packages to Ireland to are Irish.
"Both are excellent destinations, though. It's a dream come true for many," said Hazelton.
April 10, 2006
William K. Wolfrum keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. You can follow him on Twitter @Wolfrum.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
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