What Brexit means for golf travel

If you've been contemplating a golf trip to England, Northern Ireland or Scotland, now might be a good time.

In the wake of the United Kingdom's vote to exit the European Union late last month (better known as Brexit), the British pound sterling reached a 32-year low against the U.S. dollar, meaning financially this might be a great time to take a golf trip to Great Britain. Late last week, the pound sunk to $1.3224, compared to $1.5018 just before the Brexit vote on June 23. That means, essentially, that American golfers traveling to Great Britain can get roughly 8 percent more for their money in restaurants, pubs, golf courses and accommodations.

Not surprisingly, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was happy about the vote to leave the E.U. and not just for political reasons. Trump was in Scotland last week at one of his high profile golf resorts, Turnberry, checking on the $200-million-plus renovation there, holding a news conference.

"If the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry," he said. "I think it could very well turn out to be a positive."

Trump's point goes beyond just Turnberry but to all golf courses whose green fees are in the pound sterling currency. If you wanted to play the Old Course at St. Andrews, for example, the green fee is £175 during peak season (April 18-Oct. 16). Today, that translates into about $230. Two weeks ago, it would have been about $263. The same, of course, holds true for hotels, food, and ale and Scotch.

Marty Carr, chief executive officer of Carr Golf Travel, has been arranging golf trips to the UK and Ireland for the past 27 years and says there's never been a better time to travel to Northern Ireland and Scotland.

For example, Carr Golf will conduct its Fourth Annual Carr Golf Pro Am in October in Northern Ireland, playing Portmarnock, Ardglass Golf Club, Royal County Down Golf Club and two rounds at Royal Portrush Golf Club and staying at the Bushmills Inn. The trip costs about £2,475 per person. (A PGA Professional can travel for free for putting together a group.)

"This Pro-Am is now costing $500 less to the attendees," said Carr, referring to the dollar's strength against the pound.

Carr Golf is also offering three-day golf packages to the NFL games in London this fall, which are priced between £1,600 and £1,900. He said because they are now about $350 cheaper than they were before.

Of course, Ireland -- whose form of currency is the Euro -- isn't part of Great Britain. And like the dollar, the Euro is also strong against the pound, which means it will be more expensive for Europeans to travel to Ireland. That might, however, open up tee sheets in Ireland, which could result in slightly reduced green fees and packages to Ireland, too.

Additionally, new airline routes from Vancouver and Toronto to Dublin, Ireland, and Glasgow, Scotland -- as well as new Aer Lingus routes from Los Angeles, Newark and Hartford, Conn. -- make Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland more accessible for visitors from North America. Combined with the dollar's new-found strength against the pound, this really could be an ideal time to plan a golf vacation to England, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Video: Matt Ginella and Marty Carr on what Brexit means for golf travel


Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
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What Brexit means for golf travel