An Autumn Pilgrimage To The Home Of Golf

Fergus Bisset was invited to an autumn meeting of the Porsche Golf Circle to play rounds at Kingsbarns and St Andrews. Unsurprisingly enough, he accepted.

St Andrews
Participants in the Porsche Golf Circle Event in St Andrews
(Image credit: Porsche)

One of the great things about golf is how the sport brings people together. Old and young, male and female, accomplished and just starting out; people who play golf share a bond. More cynical golfers would say that bond is masochism – to a certain extent that might be true – but let’s stay on the brighter side of things here and say the bond is created by a love for the outdoors, a love of the pursuit, a love of the gear you need for that pursuit and a love for the locations in which that pursuit is pursued.

The Porsche Golf Circle


The Porsche Golf Circle brings people together

(Image credit: Porsche)

The good people at Porsche recognised those qualities in golf and they also recognised that those are some of the qualities that attract people to their cars. To love Porsche is not only to love quality automotive design and engineering but it’s also to love the experience of motoring, the setting for it and the driving itself. No fewer than 250,000 people are members of the official Porsche Club globally – It’s the world’s largest owner’s club.

There’s a synergy between golf and Porsche then, and the German car manufacturer has tapped into it. Since 2015 they have been lead sponsors of the Porsche European Open, played since then in Germany and won by top players including Paul Casey, who is a Porsche brand ambassador and an enthusiastic Porsche owner.

Porsche has also gone directly to the golfers themselves by creating the Porsche Golf Circle – It’s a community of people who share a passion for golf and Porsche – It makes a lot of sense. It connects people from all over the world who share two significant interests. As I said at the start, golf brings people together. There are now 4,000 members of the Porsche Golf Circle and there’s a free app that’s available to download, giving members access to stories, tips and videos, as well as information on events.

Meeting the Community


The whole crew

(Image credit: Porsche)

It seemed obvious in theory when I read about it, but I was interested to see how the community worked for real. I got the opportunity to find out when I was invited to an autumn meeting in St Andrews to play at Kingsbarns and the Old Course. This was by no means to be the first get together of the Porsche Golf Circle – they’ve travelled the world with events in Tenerife, Singapore and Portugal to name a few destinations. But this was the first time the group had visited the Home of Golf – It was to be a new thing for most of the party.

I’ve visited the Home of Golf a fair few times but I’ve never owned a Porsche, so I felt that was an opening score of about 1-1.

As with any meet and greet, I was a little nervous as I headed for the welcome reception at the Old Course Hotel. I needn’t have been. Within minutes I was chatting away happily to a group including golfers from Switzerland, the USA and Australia. It’s amazing how quickly golf can break the ice. All you need to say is, “have you played here before?” And you’re away.

Some of the members of the Golf Circle on the St Andrews trip had met before but many were meeting each other for the first time. It was incredible to me how quickly they, and we, all made friends. Did I say that golf brings people together? … Ok, I’ll be quiet about that now.

Day 1 - Kingsbarns

Fergus Bisset

"Authentic" conditions at Kingsbarns

(Image credit: Porsche)

Day one of the event was to be played over the superb Kyle Phillips-designed Kingsbarns Golf Links. With the Dunhill Links tournament having been played just a couple of weeks earlier, the course was in impeccable condition with the greens running as fast and as true as you could possibly wish.

What wasn’t so impeccable was the weather – It was raining hard and the wind was blowing at, what someone rightly described to me, an “authentic” rate.

But it did nothing to dampen the spirits. Although many of the group, those from the Americas, Australia and Asia in particular, were used to golfing in sunnier, warmer climes, there wasn’t a word of complaint as we forged out into the weather. A couple of last-minute jacket purchases and the dishing out of hand warmers were all done with smiles.


Craig Coghlan had come all the way from Australia!

(Image credit: Porsche)

The international and eclectic nature of the Porsche Golf Circle was epitomised by my group for the day. I was accompanied by three low handicappers – Edmund, a psychologist from Switzerland, Michael, who runs of a protective workwear company in Germany and Mike, a former professional golfer turned banker from the U.S. We had a blast and, although the golf wasn’t up to much, we battled the conditions bravely and earned a pint or two in the compact yet perfect Kingsbarns clubhouse – an ironic way of drying out!

After an excellent dinner at The Adamson restaurant in St Andrews it transpired that the group didn’t go away from the day empty handed. Although most of the Stableford prizes were scooped by a group from Taiwan, Mike picked up longest drive… He would do the same the following day by popping one comfortably on the green on the 10th hole of The Old Course. He’s a "strong loon” as we'd say in the north east.

Day 2 - St Andrews

Fergus Bisset

Fergus and Neil at St Andrews

(Image credit: Porsche)

The weather was decidedly kinder for the second day of action on The Old Course at St Andrews. In fact, it was positively balmy for late October. The sun was out and levels of excitement were bordering on manic amongst those who had never played the Grand Old Lady before. 

Most were up at dawn to head to the driving range. All were at the tee an hour before to soak up the atmosphere. I say all. Not quite all. I was still having a rather delicious breakfast in the Road Hole Restaurant an hour before, but I was there in time to meet my group for a quick chat pre-round. 

Another diverse bunch - Hangsoo, a fish farmer from South Korea, Bert, a paediatric cardiologist from the USA and Marcus who works in property in Germany… And me – I scribble stuff about golf from my bedroom in Aberdeenshire. Oh well.

Again though, we had a superb and convivial day out around the famous old links. I played a bit better and that was in no small part down to my caddy Neil McLennan. A scientist with a Ph.D, Neil decided on a change of tack and is now a top-notch caddy. A couple of very good decisions and some excellent reads and he coaxed me round in level par. Thanks Neil.

The rest of the group played some solid stuff, and it was capped off when Hangsoo made a birdie on the final hole – His celebration was something to behold and really drove it home just how much it means to play at the Home of Golf for the first time. A memory for life.

A final fling


Glengoyne Whisky Event

(Image credit: Porsche)

Our final dinner was in St Andrews’ acclaimed Seafood Restaurant. But before sampling some beautiful halibut, we sampled some beautiful whisky. The crew from the Glengoyne Distillery were on hand to conduct a rather unique whisky experience. We tasted various of their malts as per a normal tasting, but the difference here was we were then able to create a marriage of malts of our own. 

We had five expressions to select from – A light Refill Hogshead up to a dark European Oak Sherry Puncheon. The idea was to pick the ones you liked and mix them accordingly. I put a little of everything in and created something that I don’t think will be winning any industry awards… It tasted quite interesting though. We were able to put our blend into a little bottle, pop it in a miniature box and take it home with us as a memento – a very nice touch.

At dinner I sat next to a lovely American couple called Bruce and Laura and we found plenty of common ground, not just golf and cars believe it or not (although they did get a mention.) All too soon though it was time to call a halt to proceedings… Well, not before a couple of jars in the Jigger Inn… Well, maybe three… Or was it four?

By the time we did all face the music and say our goodbyes, some proper friendships had been forged and I’ve no doubt plenty of the group will keep in touch and play golf together many times again in the future. 

Porsche are really on to something with their Golf Circle. Getting customers, and potential customers together to experience a shared passion is something that will create even stronger bonds between Porsche and their expansive community. Did I mention that golf brings people together? Oh yes, I said I’d leave that… I’ll leave it here.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?