While the world’s most famous and luxurious golf clubs and resorts profess to giving their guests the white-glove treatment, the prospect of a royal visit or a head of state dropping by is a complex matter.

Bearwood Lakes is an exclusive golf club with an international membership in Berskshire. A 30-minute drive from London’s Heathrow Airport, its finely manicured course and clubhouse are built on an estate that, until recently, was part of the Great Windsor Park – hunting grounds of the Kings of England since the 11th century. No surprise then, that members of Britain’s royal family are prone to make themselves at home at Bearwood Lakes, which has, among other things, hosted the United Kingdom qualifier for the Duke of Edinburgh Cup. Naturally, protocols for when the royals arrive are firmly in place. Take for example, His Royal Highness Prince Edward’s recent visit.

“All staff members were briefed and told that when addressing the Prince for any reason, they should call him ‘His Royal Highness’ and that no fuss was to be made of him,” says Rebecca Glenister, the membership director for Bearwood Lakes. “The Prince made it quite clear he did not want to cause too much disruption to the daily running of the golf course.”

Honourable intentions indeed. But a royal is a royal and due to safety concerns, some fuss and disruption was certainly necessary. Security staffers arrived two weeks ahead of the Prince. “They checked the boundaries of the golf course for weak points and one of our meeting rooms in the clubhouse was appointed a ‘safe room’ where, in case of an emergency, the Prince could be locked away from harm with a telephone whilst his bodyguards assessed the situation. The key was given to the head security guard and no one was allowed in or out.”

All normal postal and food deliveries were suspended for the day and a Bearwood Lakes staff member, who would recognise authorised visitors, manned the gate to identify possible risks. Two bodyguards and two four-wheel drive vehicles were set to shadow the Prince around the hilly and wooded golf course designed by Martin Hawtree, even if he were to stop by the club’s halfway house to try one of their famed bakewell tarts, according to Glenister.
Members at Bearwood Lakes enjoy the tarts, and an extensive practice range which helps them avoid the 50 acres of lakes threatening their score. Membership at Bearwood Lakes is by way of no more than 675 debenture units. A small number of full memberships are available at approximately $10,000 U.S.; associate memberships, which forbid play on weekends or Bank Holidays, cost $5,000. Corporate, student, junior and international memberships are also available. International members must be a member of a recognised golf club and must reside outside the United Kingdom. Contact Bearwood Lakes at or telephone 01 18 979 7900.
One avowed UK resident, HRH Prince Andrew, The Duke of York, slips in and out with only one security person when he visits the Loch Lomond Golf Club, according to Joanne Kerr, a communications official for the posh and private enclave just outside Glasgow. His Highness serves as Loch Lomond’s International Captain, so his visits are often in an unofficial capacity. “The first time we address him as ‘Your Highness,’ the second time and onward, it’s ‘Sir’,” Kerr explains. Mind you, the staff members employ a “speak only when spoken to” philosophy with the Prince.
The same royal treatment is available to all Loch Lomond members, who come from as many as 28 different countries. Regular membership, a non-equity deposit of approximately $100,000 U.S., which is 100-percent refundable after 30 years, includes full use of the Loch Lomond and Dundonald Golf Courses without green fees. Spouses and children through the age of 22 may also enjoy the club. Charges apply for guest fees, accommodations, fishing, shooting, boating, and dining. Contact Loch Lomond Golf Club via or phone 44 01 436 655555.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s visit to Loch Lomond and the neighbouring De Vere Cameron House Hotel proved to be much more complicated that Prince Andrew’s stealthy visits – seven rooms were needed for Clinton’s entourage. In addition to the security officers minding the President from between the trees that line each hole, a CPR machine trailing on a golf buggy was never far from Clinton as he walked the Loch Lomond, course designed by Tom Weiskopf, which plays host each year to the Scottish Open.
Two weeks before Clinton’s visit, secret service officials chartered a pleasure boat normally used to give sightseeing cruises to Cameron House guests to scan the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. When the boat captain asked one of the security officials for whom he worked, he was told cryptically, “Mate, I can’t answer that, but I’m not bothered by the question. If you already knew who was coming, I’d be worried.”
De Vere’s prestigious, 5-star Cameron House and its brand new golf course, The Carrick, are open to the public, with resort ownership opportunities available as well. Log on to or phone 44 01 31 558 3111.
After no less than weeks of security preparations, sitting U.S. President George Bush was able to walk the grounds of the majestic Dromoland Castle freely during a visit to the stately Irish golf resort to meet with European leaders in the summer of 2004. “President Bush was exceedingly nice and friendly to everyone he encountered,” says Michael Vaughan, Dromoland’s marketing manager, who had spent time in Bush’s company. To visit Dromoland, which is open to the public, log on to or phone 353 61 368 144
Gleneagles, a famed golf resort on 850 acres in the Scottish Highlands, excelled at the task of welcoming a number of world leaders simultaneously, including Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, when the five-star hotel hosted the G-8 Summit in July 2005. “Not surprisingly, the sporting clay grounds were closed down altogether,” says Terry Massey, a shooting instructor at Gleneagles, who normally lends a helping hand to guests with their shotguns to aim at prey such as pigeons, grouse, pheasants and rabbits.
Food service workers were divided into the “red team” and “blue team” to wait on the various leaders, and all Gleneagles staff were forced to park two miles off-site near the motorway, submit to metal detection searches, and be shuttled in while the world leaders rattled the manor’s glass windows by landing on the Gleneagles lawn in their Chinook helicopters. Head professional Russell Smith said Russian President Vladmir Putin and Jenna Bush booked in for golf lessons.
On another, somewhat more private and obviously less formal occasion, the King of Morocco, a frequent Gleneagles guest, arrived in a motorcade of 16 limousines ferrying 50 female companions!
Whether, like the King, you have a companion, or even if you’re travelling alone, visit Gleneagles by logging on to or phone 44 (0) 1764 662231. Membership opportunities are also available.

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