Hogan’s Alley: Where To Go in 2020

This week, Pioneer Golf CEO Bill Hogan discusses some travel ideas for 2020:

Now that it’s January, most of the tee times at the famed links courses in the UK and Ireland are sold out for the 2020 season. Advance reservations have never been higher and the most demanded courses such as Muirfield, Royal County Down, Royal Portrush and St Andrews are either sold out or pretty close to it.

So where can we still facilitate a great trip for your group in 2020? Here are a few ideas and my thoughts on why you should give these trips a look:

Scottish Highlands

This area has always been among my favorites. A week or more in the Highlands is easy from just one or two hotels and Pioneer Golf can schedule a great golf course every day. Most itineraries would include the famed Royal Dornoch GC, now ranked #10 in the world by Golf Magazine, and clever groups will attempt to play it twice! The other must plays are Castle Stuart, Nairn, Royal Aberdeen, Cruden Bay and Trump International.

Cruden Bay GC

Other considerations include the charming Brora GC, The Carnegie Club, Golspie, Tain, Boat of Garten, Fortrose & Rosemarkie, Old Moray (Lossiemouth) and Murcar. As you can see, there are enough outstanding golf courses, and still plentiful availability for 2020, that you could spend a couple of weeks and play a great course every day.

But the Highlands are more than just golf. There are hotels and guesthouses to meet all price points, including our favorite Links House Dornoch or the charming and historic Culloden House where Bonnie Prince Charlie housed his battle headquarters in 1745. Castles, Battlefields, Whisky distilleries, fly fishing, beach walks, shopping, outstanding dining experiences and even a famous monster beneath Loch Ness are all in the immediate vicinity.

You really can’t go wrong in The Highlands!

St Andrews Special Note: Pioneer Golf just got a cancellation for 8 persons for a May 9-15, 2020 St Andrews trip package including Guaranteed Old Course tee times! Since the cancelled group already “subsidized” the costs, the 5-night package with 4 rounds of golf and transfers can be yours for only $3510 per person. This price can’t be beat! Want to make it really special? Add a day and be there for the Grand Opening Round on Dumbarnie Golf Links on Saturday May 16th. Call Pioneer Golf today at (512) 327-2680 to grab this space… at this price it won’t last long. Click HERE to see the package! 


I tell people all the time that Portugal has the great culture, climate and golf of Spain, but at 2/3 the price! Pioneer Golf can organize your trip to start in Lisbon and end in Faro, with a week or more of gorgeous seaside golf, relaxing beach resorts, and probably the most varied seafood choices in all of Europe.

Our favorite courses near Lisbon include Oitavos Dunes, Penha Longa and West Cliffs. As you transfer south to the Algarve, make sure to stop half way and play Troia GC, one of the best Robert Trent Jones Sr courses ever designed. Of course, the majority of your time should be spent on the sun kissed coast of The Algarve, a region along the southern Atlantic coast bordering Spain, that has those gorgeous beaches, golf courses and seaside villages you’ve heard about.

Monte Rei GC

Again, there is a plethora of nice Algarve golf options, including Quinta do Lago, San Lorenzo, Vale do Lobo, Penina, Vilamoura, Palmares, Espiche and the best of them all, Monte Rei GC.

Most Portugese golf itineraries planned by Pioneer Golf will start with one resort hotel near Lisbon for 3-4 nights and then head south to The Algarve for 4-6 more nights. Golf can be played in the morning with afternoons free for the beach or sightseeing, and evenings spent in the waterfront cafes dining on local seafood and the great local wines.

And best of all, a trip to Portugal won’t break the bank, because the value is among the best in Europe.


So you are set on playing great links golf but some of the famous courses in Scotland and Ireland are already sold out for the 2020 dates you want. Allow me to make a suggestion: fly to Manchester and play along the England golf coast!

In close proximity to the fun towns of Southport and Liverpool are many links courses including the big three “Royals”: Birkdale, Liverpool and Lytham St Annes. In addition, some of the lesser know courses are every bit as enjoyable, including Hillside, Southport & Ainsdale, Formby, Wallasey, and West Lancashire.

Royal Lytham & St Annes GC

Have a week or more? No problem, because Pioneer Golf can book you a great links course each and every day!

There are excellent value accommodations and plenty of sightseeing opportunities in Lancashire and Merseyside including many of The Beatles attractions in the places where the Fab Four once roamed. Additionally, Pioneer Golf can recommend the best restaurants and fun pubs to round out your trip.

Northwest England is not only a bucket list golf trip, but it’s easy and accessible too!


One way to help Australia after all the recent bush fires is to spend some tourism dollars Down Under and help the local economy. Oh, and you’ll have a terrific golf vacation as well!

Whereas most of the famous courses are located around Melbourne, the destinations of Sydney, Tasmania and Canberra offer terrific golf opportunities as well. Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath, Barnbougle Dunes, Cape Wickham, New South Wales … you’ve heard of them all and they are all quite welcoming to overseas visitors.

Cape Wickham Links

Did you know that eight of the Golf Magazine World Top 100 courses are located in Australia? What’s just as remarkable is that many people think it should be 15 or more!

Now, remember that Australia is a big country and there is some distance between some of the major cities. So normally there are some domestic flights involved, although some travelers may elect to just spend the entire trip in Melbourne and play a different great course every day.

Contact me and I’d be happy to outline a trip to meet your time frame and budget. With the strong dollar and Australia looking for some help, this year might be a terrific time to discover down under.

Northwest Ireland

Some of you might say that I’ve saved the best for last. Perhaps. What I can assure you is that there isn’t a better quality and value proposition in all of Europe!

A Northwest Ireland golf trip is quite simple, really. Just fly to Shannon and drive north along “The Wild Atlantic Way”. Stay at a charming sporting manor such as Mount Falcon Estate or Ashford Castle. Make sure to book some nights at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort or in the charming town of Donegal.

Great fresh seafood? Yes. Great pubs? Certainly. Fishing, shooting and other sporting pursuits? Absolutely. Worthwhile golf courses? You bet!

Carne, Enniscrone, County Sligo (Rosses Point), Rosapenna, Ballyliffin and Donegal are all world class golf clubs, with some boasting two or more great links. Connemara, Portsalon, Narin & Portnoo and Galway Bay are all just a notch below, but still very worthwhile.

Ballyliffin GC

And it’s getting better! Rosapenna already has two great links courses, the challenging Sandy Hills track designed by our friend Pat Ruddy in 2003, and the Old Tom Morris layout designed in 1893. But coming soon, in 2021, is the new Tom Doak designed St Patrick’s Links with spectacular views and natural blow out bunkers that only Mother Nature can create. I’ve seen the site and I can’t wait to see what Tom unveils here at Rosapenna!

I would be happy to help you plan the ideal trip to Northwest Ireland, or elsewhere. The expert team at Pioneer Golf does a fantastic job of planning and executing a golf trip. That’s why over 2000 golfers a year trust our operation: because we offer great service at a fair price.

That’s what we’ll deliver. And as you can see from the above, there are plenty of destinations with great availability still for 2020.