Savings vs Tour Operators

Should you plan the trip yourself or use a tour operator? Here’s a discussion of the potential savings of planning your own golf trip to Ireland or Scotlandcompared to using a tour operator.

Potential Savings for Ireland

Here’s an example of the savings you can expect by planning your own trip (4 golfers, 7 nights, 6 rounds of golf) with the Ireland Golf Adventure Guide and making the tee times and hotel reservations yourself:

Tour operator =  € 2,660 per golfer
Self-planned =  € 2,180 per golfer
Savings =  € 480 per golfer

At an exchange rate of $1.35 per euro that's a savings of nearly $650 per golfer. Here are the details of this example tour offered by one of the top firms serving Ireland:

  • Golf at Lahinch Old, Doonbeg, Tralee, Waterville, Ballybunion Old, Old Head
  • 2 nights at Dromoland Castle (near Shannon Airport)
  • 3 nights at Killarney Park Hotel (Killarney)
  • 1 night at Hayfield Manor Hotel (Cork)
  • 1 night in Adare Manor (near Limerick)
  • Self-drive vehicle for 4 golfers and luggage
  • Twin rooms (sharing with one other person)

The self-planned total was calculated using published green fee and hotel room rates. The rental car (minivan actually) was estimated at €100 per day.

Further Savings — The accommodations in this example itinerary are all fairly expensive. I include these accommodations in my guide, but also recommend less expensive alternatives that are great and will give you more of the experience of being in Ireland.

With that said, I would personally stay the first two nights in Ennis (near Shannon also) at either the Temple Gate Hotel or Old Ground Hotel, the next three nights in Tralee at the Grand Hotel, at the Lottamore House in Cork, and then back in Ennis for the final night.

Those accommodation choices save you an additional €500 per golfer. That works out to a potential savings of € 980 per golfer.

Potential Savings for Scotland

Here's an example of the savings you can expect by planning your own trip (4 golfers, 8 days, 7 nights, 6 rounds of golf) with the Scotland Golf Adventure Guide and making the tee times and hotel reservations yourself:

Tour operator =  US$ 2,065 per golfer
Self-planned =  US$ 1,510 per golfer
Savings =  US$  555 per golfer

Here are the details of this example tour from one of the top tour operators serving Scotland:

  • Golf at St Andrews New, Jubilee, and Old (via the ballot, not guaranteed) Courses, Carnoustie, North Berwick, and Gullane No 1
  • 4 nights Ardgowan Hotel (St Andrews)
  • 3 nights Golf Inn (Gullane)
  • Self-drive vehicle for 4 golfers and luggage (minivan)
  • Twin rooms (sharing with one other person)

The self-planned total was calculated using published green fee and hotel room rates. The rental car (minivan) was estimated at $100 per day.

Using a Tour Operator

The easy way out is to employ a tour operator—at a cost, course.

I have nothing against tour operators. In fact, my guides list the top golf tour operators for Ireland and Scotland and provide detailed contact information. These folks offer a valuable service for those who just don’t have the time, or desire, to plan their own trips. For this service they command a premium of approximately 15-20%, from which they need to pay their employees and make a profit. I think that is reasonable for the services they provide.

In the final analysis, it’s up to you if you think it is worth it to have someone else take care of the details or if you'd rather do it yourself and pocket the savings. Even if you do choose to use a tour operator, the Ireland and Scotland Golf Adventure Guides are a great resource during the pre-planning phase (i.e. picking out which courses you'd like to play and which towns to stay in) and during your trip (contact info, driving times & directions, etc.). In fact, I’d bet that the process of planning your trip with a tour operator would go a lot more smoothly if you had one of my guides.

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