Travel feature: Troon with a view
Here’s some very encouraging news for all keen golfers, and golf widows, out there. An imaginative and enterprising new hotel group has created a portfolio of impressive properties in Scotland that, in their words, “nestle along some of the most coveted courses across the globe”. Those who enjoy ‘a good walk spoiled’, as the saying goes, will salivate at the locations - Rusacks St Andrews, North Berwick, Slieve Donard, Royal Dornoch and Royal Troon on the Ayrshire coast, where we were privileged to stay earlier this year at the Marine Troon hotel.
As one of the aforementioned golf widows I was ecstatic to try out this stunning hotel in an equally stunning location on the west coast of Scotland - which will be the home of next year’s Open Championship. While my husband was blessed with a round on this magnificent links course in the (rare) sunshine (and more of that later), I could look out over the course through floor to ceiling windows and further to the sea as I took a leisurely swim, followed by a massage.
The hotel, very recently refurbished, was traditional in style, but with a vivid take on design. Our room was Troon with a view to die for, not only of the golf course, but also the coast and the Isle of Arran.
Nothing was too much trouble for the discreet but attentive staff, who served up a big portion of friendliness and informality. On a weekend away we found there was no reason to leave this haven, although Troon itself is just a longish walk or short taxi ride away.
For meals you can choose from the The Rabbit restaurant that overlooks its namesake hole or The Seal, which overlooks the first hole, and is a place to linger for drinks and casual dining.
We found the a la carte menu using local produce had imaginative flourishes on traditional favourites. You can order a cheeseburger any time and the steaks are melt-in-the-mouth. The fish choices are superb too.
But even if you don’t play golf, Marine Troon would be a wonderful place for a weekend hideaway.
Golf dream come true
Golfer Nick writes: For us club golfers, the chance to follow in our heroes’ footsteps is one of the game’s great plus points.
And so the chance to play at Royal Troon - host to nine Open championships over the years - meant that for an afternoon I could imagine I was Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson or, ahem, Todd Hamilton.
Their names as former winners of The Open can be found in the sumptuous clubhouse at the course, which will again host the battle for the famous old Claret Jug again in 2024.
After a calming beer in the comfortable lounge I was sent on my way from the first tee by the professional and welcoming staff.
I could not have picked a better day – bright sunshine, a slight chill in the air and not a hint of wind. That meant for the first six holes I felt that it was only a matter of time before I joined the world’s golfing elite as the holes head straight away from the clubhouse with the beach just a sliced tee shot away on my right.
But Troon’s most memorable holes come around the turn in the run of holes from seven to 12 as the dunes get bigger and the pressure builds with blind tee shots, thick gorse and even a railway line just waiting for the slightest mishit.
Of course, Troon’s most famous hole is also its shortest. The eighth is called the Postage Stamp because of its small green and at 123 yards the par three is the shortest hole played in The Open rota. From the elevated tee it appears a simple flick with a short iron but a high dune on the left and cavernous bunkers await for every little slip.
Once you have weaved your way through the holes at the far end of the course you then turn back towards the clubhouse in the distance.
The 18th is a bit of a respite, as long as you can handle the scrutiny of any patrons of the Marine Troon hotel watching from just to the right of the fairway. Then you finish with a shot to a green tucked in the shadow of the clubhouse. I putted out with the sun starting to set on a stunning, tranquil and historic setting.
Marine & Lawn Hotels & Resorts is a collection of bespoke hotels in the world’s most distinguished golfing destinations. Starting rates at Marine Troon begin at £159 subject to seasonality and availability per room per night including full Scottish breakfast and VAT. Call Marine Troon on 01292 314444.
Royal Troon allows visitors from April to October on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The current green fee is £315 and men must have a handicap of 20 or less and ladies 30 or less.
Burns’ birthplace: Find out about Scotland’s National Bard by visiting the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway. It has 5,000 Burns artefacts, including his handwritten manuscripts. From the museum you can wander through the beautiful village, in Tam o’ Shanter’s footsteps to Alloway Auld Kirk and over the Brig o’ Doon.
Culzean Castle and Country Park: Sculpted around miles of coastline and perched dramatically at the top of a cliff, this is Robert Adam’s masterpiece. There are 40 buildings to explore, woods, beaches, a deer park, a Swan Pond and play areas.
14th Century free attraction: Dean Castle Country Park with its recently renovated buildings has 200 acres to explore as well as the bloody history of the castle itself.
For more information on where to visit in Scotland, go to www.visitscotland.com