- February 28, 2023
You will leave with a lifelong memory.
Scott Wilson guarantees it.
Of course, Wilson knows he can't control the weather, even if he normally has good luck in that regard.
No matter the circumstances, though, Wilson said he does everything in his power to produce an unforgettable vacation for those who use his Wilson Links travel golf company.
Wilson started Wilson Links as a full-time company last year, but he has been taking groups on customized golf trips since 2005, when he was the director of golf at Vellano Country Club in Chino Hills, California.
No one knows the best places to go better than him. Wilson, a PGA golf pro, has played 860 golf courses over the years, including all 100 of Golf Digest's "America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses," as last published in 2021, and 82 of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Courses in the World.
He is so well-traveled, he acted as a Golf Digest panelist for 18 years, helping them rank the courses, and is in year 20 of being a PGA Magazine Travel Ambassador.
So what does Wilson Links do? In short, the company does whatever you want. Wilson said he'll talk with his clients about where they want to go and what they want to see, and then take care of all the planning. If a group doesn't have that much knowledge of a place (or just wants to do less research), Wilson can also take care of the ideas himself.
As you might have guessed, the company specializes in trips to links-style courses, which are built on open, rising and falling stretches of land with few trees, usually but not always situated on a coastline.
In the end, Wilson said, the idea is for clients to do as little as possible upon arrival. All they have to do is show up.
"We manage people's memories," Wilson said, recalling advice an old colleague gave him. "These trips are bucket list things. It is their dream to go to these places, and we're in charge. We have to take them to the right places and go to the right dinners. They have to have a good time."
On trips to Scotland, for instance, groups will get to play at historic links-style courses like The Royal and Ancient Golf Club Of St Andrews, but they will also get to visit castles in the area, take tours of whiskey distilleries and eat at authentic restaurants. Wilson said he will always remember a July 2011 trip to Scotland that featured two people on the trip celebrating their 50th birthdays and, on July 4, playing St Andrews in the morning and eating at the local pub, which was serving Texas-style barbecue and hamburgers in a nod to America, at night.
It's not just the big things, though. Wilson joked that he will even shimmy up a tree to get the perfect photo of a group during a round. At least, I think he was joking. But I would not be surprised if that stops being a joke someday.
That is how committed he is to making sure his customers have a good time. Wilson will purchase flags of the country visited and pass them around the table on the final night's dinner so everyone can sign each flag, and once the trip is over, Wilson will put together books filled with photos from the trip, memorializing each incredible moment.
These trips come with a cost, but that cost differs depending on the location of the trip — and the length of the flight — plus the extravagance of the excursions each group picks. Because of all the different factors at play, Wilson said it is difficult to give an estimate, but he's confident there is a package that can fit any interested group.
Wilson will sometimes join in on the golf — but only if the group has an odd number of golfers. Otherwise, he is content to make memories for others. He already has plenty of his own. Wilson said his No. 1 favorite course to play is Cypress Point Club in Pebble Beach, California, located on the tip of the Monterey Peninsula. While that course and other favorites like the Old Course at St Andrews are widely regarded as masterpieces, Wilson also has a fondness for quirkier courses, like Scotland's Musselburgh Golf Club, which is a nine-hole course that weaves in and out of a horse race track.
Although many of Wilson's trips go overseas, not all of them do. For 2023, Wilson has scheduled multiple trips to Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Oregon. In 2024, Wilson plans on sending a group to courses in Arizona. So I was curious. Where would he recommend people play if they wanted to take a trip to Manatee-Sarasota counties?
It turns out, he wouldn't recommend it at all — though people could stay at a hotel in the area to enjoy the beaches and art scenes when not golfing. For golf, though, Wilson recommends they take a 90-minute drive northeast.
"If their desire is to play world class, links-style golf, the only place to go right now is Streamsong Resort (in Bowling Green)," Wilson said.
Wilson himself helped oversee the course's construction in 2012 through Kemper Sports Management and worked as the course's director of golf until 2021. It's no surprise, given Wilson's affinity for links courses. But it's not just Wilson's personal bias talking. The resort has three courses on the Golf Magazine top 100 list.
Later this year, the course at Cabot Citrus Farms (previously called World Woods Golf Club) about two hours north in Brooksville is expected to open after renovations. Wilson said that course is expected to be spectacular as well. When it opens, it will give another world-class option for links-style fans and, Wilson hopes, increase the style's popularity in Florida. At that point, Wilson said, he'll consider flying overseas acquaintances he's made over the years into Florida to play those courses and see the sights.
Until then, he will stay busy, with trips to new places like Japan, Australia and New Zealand on the docket. No matter where he is, Wilson gets joy out of sharing a love of golf with others.
"That's what makes this feel good," Wilson said. "At the end of the day, it's about people having the trip of a lifetime."
For more information on Wilson Links or to inquire about a trip, golfers can visit WilsonLinks.com.