As the eyes of the golfing world turn to St Andrews for the 144th Open Championship, Golf Monthly editor Michael Harris recalls his recent road trip to the home of golf in the stunning Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 Shooting Brake.
The essential ingredients for any golfing road trip are two fold. A collection of must-play courses and a fast comfortable car in which to cover the miles between them. I was lucky enough to have both.
My journey would take 6 days and include rounds on the courses that host the 2013, 14 and 15 Open Championship. Finding a car to match the quality of the courses would be a hard task but Mercedes-Benz, patron of the Open Championship, were generous in loaning me the Shooting Brake and I was treated to an incredible driving experience.
Stunning looks, a mixture of powerful performance and economical touring and a luxurious interior that surrounded you with useful features and technology.
Ready for the off. The AMG Line styling package on the CLS 350 Shooting Brake certainly turned heads on my road trip. The car’s sleek aerodynamic lines and 19 inch alloys combined to give a look of elegant power.
Have clubs (electric trolley and luggage for 6 days on the road) will travel. The 590-litre load area accommodated everything I needed for the road trip with ease.
First stop on the trip was the highly regarded Manchester Golf Club nestling on the northern edge of the city. Designed by the famous Harry Colt the course winds its way around an expansive plot of rugged moorland and the club boasts a rich history dating back to 1882. A must play if you are in the area.
Next on the itinerary was a visit to the Royal Liverpool Golf Club on the Wirral. Hoylake as it is otherwise known was host to the 2014 Open Championship where Rory McIlroy won the Claret Jug with a commanding performance. It’s always a special experience to play a course that has recently hosted a major golf event and putting out on the club’s 16th green (18th green for the Open routing) you could close your eyes and imagine the thousands of fans cheering on Rory to victory.
The Shooting Brake ready for the 250-mile journey up the M6, through the Lake District, Scottish Borders and Pentland Hills to East Lothian and Scotland’s Golf Coast. It’s a drive that always delights and never more so than when in the Shooting Brake. With the cruise control on the motorway miles were covered with ease while the glorious journey up the A702 allowed the car to showcase its impressive power, overtaking smoothly.
Ranked at Number 1 for the past six years in our UK & Ireland Top 100 we believe that Muirfield, is the most complete course in our Isles. The concentric routing, well placed bunkers and contoured green complexes ensure you have to be on your game to prosper on the links. Some say that Muirfield lacks the views of other great links but with the glorious Firth of Forth stretching out in front of you and the Kingdom of Fife beyond it’s hard to think of many more inspiring sights in golf.
Muirfield’s clubhouse stands proudly behind the 18th green with the famous island bunker to the right waiting to capture errant approaches. It one of the classic finishing holes in championship golf.
The stunning shape and styling of the AMG Line Shooting Brake set against the grand Mansion House at Archerfield. Looking at the sleek lines, futuristic front grille and sculpted front air intakes it has the appearance of a powerful sports car. It’s hard to believe that it’s actually a practical estate car capable of transporting five people and their luggage in luxurious comfort.
The two courses at Archerfield are fine examples of modern golf courses. They offer very different challenges from the tree-lined Fidra Course that plays towards the sea or the Dirleton Course pictured here that winds its way amongst banks of gorse.
The holes that run alongside the seashore on the West Links are some of the most stunning in all the world. In the distance the Bass Rock juts out of the Firth of Forth.
With the wind at your back the final hole at North Berwick is driveable and the chance of a birdie or even eagle beckons.
As you make your way towards the closing stretch of holes so the Auld Grey Toon comes into view. With the Grandstands being put up ahead of the Open the excitement levels are raised a notch.
And so to the l8th. Enveloped on two sides by the town of St Andrews, the home hole offers a golfing experience like no other. Aim for the iconic red clock on the Royal and Ancient club house – or the monument if you’re feeling confident – and you are away.
The obligatory photo on the Swilcan Bridge. No matter how well or poorly you have played the feeling you get standing where all the greats of the game have stood and then turning and walking up the most famous fairway in world golf makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
Time for one final look at the mesmerizing Old Course with the sun setting over the links before getting into the Shooting Brake to start the journey south.
1122 miles later and I’m back home. It’s a trip that will live long in the memory.
Michael Harris traveled to St Andrews and back in a Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 BlueTEC AMG Line Shooting Brake with an on-the-road price of £51,765. Mercedes-Benz are an official patron of the Open Championship.
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