Sticker shock. That's what American golf-loving groups were getting when they considered a meeting or incentive in the birthplace of golf, St. Andrews, Scotland, earlier this year when the U.S. dollar was weak — and getting weaker by the day.

But happy days are here again. With the strengthening of the dollar in the past few months, St. Andrews and other Scottish destinations are up for reconsideration.

Better still, St. Andrews Links Trust has introduced a stunning new oceanside course and the Fairmont St. Andrews, one of the area's major meetings-oriented resorts, recently completed a renovation that included a new course redesign.

The Castle Course — the seventh in the St. Andrews Links Trust portfolio of public access courses — opened in June to rave reviews. Designed by dynamic young Scottish architect David McLay Kidd, best known to Americans for Bandon Dunes on the Oregon coast, the Castle Course has been an instant hit. Set on a cliff overlooking St. Andrews Bay, two miles east of town, the course has dramatic views, wide sweeping fairways, run-offs, swales, hollows, and nooks, making it both challenging and picturesque. All skill levels can enjoy the Castle, which has five tees on every hole and large undulating greens. Tee times can be booked online at www.standrews.org.uk.

One mile away, the 209-room Fairmont St. Andrews (formerly St. Andrews Bay Resort), which has 15,000 square feet of meeting space, debuted a new course of its own in October. The former Devlin Course was renamed Kittocks following an extensive redesign and refurbishment that included the repositioning of several tees and three new greens, plus the addition of a new drainage system. Improvements are also being made on the resort's other course, the Torrance, with completion set for spring 2009. The redesign of the two courses is part of a $20 million dollar property-wide upgrade encompassing refurbished rooms, a new sports bar, and a signature spa.

Newsmakers:

  • The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in Calif. has appointed Will Wiest new director of group sales. Prior to coming to the hotel, Wiest held sales positions at a number of Ritz-Carlton properties around the country.

  • Pamela M. Feick has been named director of sales and marketing for The Pierre, located on New York's Fifth Avenue, which is set to reopen spring 2009 after a $100 million renovation.