Last week we gave you three reasons to rise early and turn on the telecast of the Scottish Open which begins today on the Balgownie links of Royal Aberdeen Golf Club. There is a slim chance that you’ve actually seen the course before since it hosted the British Senior Open in 2005 and the Walker Cup in 2011. But the odds are you haven’t played the course as it receives far fewer visitors from across the pond than the links in the Scottish lowlands. We aim to correct that imbalance by giving you five reasons to visit Aberdeen and environs, “The Northeast” as it’s known to the locals.
World Class Golf
If as we claimed in a recent blog the Balgownie links of Royal Aberdeen Golf Club is arguably the most underrated course in all of Scotland, then the area around Aberdeen is arguably Scotland’s most underrated golf cluster. It boasts three courses rated amongst the world’s top 100 and several other lesser knowns which are delightful to play. In fact, Golf Digest rates all three – Balgownie, Trump International Scotland and Cruden Bay – above the better known British Open venues at Royal Troon and Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Golf Magazine named Trump the best new course in the world when it opened in 2012.
Murcar Golf Club, the wind-blown seaside links adjacent to Balgownie, served as a stern qualifying test for the British Senior and leads the “should play” list of lesser knowns for the golfer who plans to spend a few days in the area. At only 5103 yards, par 66, wee Stonehaven is perched on cliff tops which offer some of the most dramatic golf settings anywhere. Duff House Royal, a beautifully manicured parkland course with little rough, was designed by Alistair McKenzie and reminds you of that other course that he designed in collaboration with Bobby Jones. Peterhead and Fraserburgh are rugged seaside links.
How often do you have the opportunity to dine in a country house hotel the origins of which can be traced to a Knight Templar of the 13th century? That would be Meldrum House Country Hotel which is located in the small village of Old Meldrum a short drive from the courses. We are particularly fond of staying in the rooms created within the 17th century stables and conversing with friends over a fine whisky well in the Cave Bar.
A Feast for Steakavores
Aberdeen bills itself as the oil capital of Europe. Oil attracts Americans in the oil “bidness”. Lots of Americans in the oil bidness hail from Texas. Texans like steaks, really big steaks. Consequently there seem to be more steakhouses in Aberdeen than in all the rest of Scotland combined, at least ones serving steak American style. Our personal favorite is the Prime Cuts where we recommend you order the steak of your choice paired with a locally caught lobster.
The Queen Knows Best
Since the time of Queen Victoria, the reigning British monarch and much of the royal family have spent August, September and part of October at Balmoral, the royal estate less than an hour’s drive down the
Deeside Road from Aberdeen. In our view, if the Northeast is good enough to attract the Queen of England for nearly a quarter of the year, it’s good enough for us.
Rumor has it that United Airlines is considering, because of the oil bidness, beginning non-stop service between Houston and Aberdeen. That is yet to happen nor are there currently any other direct flights to Aberdeen from the States. Nonetheless, the smallish Aberdeen airport is quite accessible because it has direct air service to dozens of cities in Great Britain, Ireland, Europe and Africa. We, for example usually fly non-stop from Cincinnati to Paris then on to Aberdeen.
As for the roadways, a dual carriage way (four lane) connects Aberdeen to Dundee then on to Edinburgh. Because of the motorway, you are only about an hour to Carnoustie, less than two to St. Andrews and about two to Edinburgh.
There you have it. Outstanding golf. Super accommodations. Giant steaks. An easy to reach area fit for a Queen. What’s not to like?