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St. Andrews and Scattering Ashes

My father in law passed away a few months ago and one of his wishes was to have a portion of his ashes scattered on the Old Course at St Andrews. He was an avid golfer all of his life and played St Andrews in his youth so we'd love to give him his wish. The big question is how? One of my friends who played St Andrews suggested going on the course on a Sunday when its closed - is that really possible? Do I contact someone there, ie is this a common request? I'd like to do this reverently and not just run or sneak on the course.

Posted by
5470 posts

There are specific requirements if you need to carry the ashes on a plane, which vary by airline.

Posted by
761 posts

As mentioned above, contact St. Andrews. You'll need their permission. From the website,

"Bringing ashes back to Scotland
You do not need a permit to bring ashes into the UK.
You can usually carry ashes onto a plane or put them in the hold as part of your luggage.
When you take the ashes to the airport you should:
tell the airline in advance so they can give you advice
take the cremation certificate with you to answer any questions you are asked
Scattering ashes
You can scatter ashes anywhere in Scotland if you have the permission of the landowner."

Posted by
941 posts

I carried my mother's ashes back to Scotland a few years ago. I had a certificate from the funeral home, and had no trouble getting the ashes through the departure airport in the U.S., and upon arrival in Britain. I actually took the ashes with me in my carry on, with the certificate. They ran some sort of scanner thing on the urn, to make sure that there was no metal in the container.

I scattered my mother's ashes in a garden of remembrance in Aberdeen, where her mother's ashes had been scattered. The funeral home in Aberdeen said that there would be no charge, as many people had scattered their relatives' ashes there to avoid the cost of a burial. (Please feel free to insert a joke about parsimonious Aberdonians here.)

I don't know how the R&A feels about ashes being scattered at St. Andrews, but if they don't give permission, and you don't want to surreptitiously scatter the ashes on the course, you could scatter them at West Sands, within sight of the course.

My condolences on the loss of your father-in-law. He must have been a good man if he wanted his ashes scattered at St. Andrews

Best of luck with your request.

Best wishes, and stay safe.

Mike (Auchterless)

p.s.: My mother, on the other hand, was a horrible woman. She made my life a nightmare, and I was fortunate to survive. She said that she never wanted to go back to Scotland, and especially to Aberdeen, so I had my revenge!

Posted by
165 posts

We flew cross-country and carried remains in our carry-on and it flunked the initial baggage x-ray. When told what they were, the TSA just re-ran the x-ray with some pocket change under the cannisters to provide some contrast to what looks unusually dark. International flights might have tougher rules.

Posted by
99 posts

Hello Marcus,
We took our son’s ashes overseas. We called airline in advanced to ask their recommendations for packing, securing. They were very helpful; directed us to TSA website for additional screening info. We also asked funeral services for advice because the area we went to is rather humid, to make sure his remains would not be compromised in transport.

The one thing we didn’t do is obtain permission (honestly, we forgot) from the site. Turns out, there are regulations regarding spreading ashes where we were. Later found out we could have had the site secured by officials had we booked site in advanced.
Takes a little planning. Wishing you well.

Edit: Forgot to add this...was suggested not to say anywhere in travel screening or customs that reason for trip is to distribute ashes. Apparently some customs or countries have problems with that as purpose of trip.

Posted by
1277 posts

My only experience is helping families in Florida transport ashes back to Canada... you absolutely want the paperwork from the funeral home / crematory saying these are ashes.. and yes it should be cleared with the the receiving golf course. Etc. Here in the US I gently told some young cousins that sprinkling their dads ashes on a local playground was not strictly legal and would be just a bit ahem disconcerting to random families that might wonder what that really was by the jungle gym. My dear friend flew w her husband's ashes to Florida and scattered them in the ocean utilizing a chartered boat from a group who does just that.

Posted by
5769 posts

For those wondering about issues with traveling with cremains, from the US (and many countries) there is no concern with the actual cremains, it is about Security determining or verifying what they are. To them, it just looks like a dense powder in a sealed they may want to open the container, examine them, test them, etc. Some people have a sensitivity or a problem with this. Carrying a statement from the funeral home, or at least declaring what they are will help, but they still may want to do some checking. Doing carry-on will give you more control over what is done, in checked luggage, they can do whatever they feel reasonable, I would at least label them "cremains", might slow down a gung-ho TSA officer.

However, for other readers, there are some countries that have strict regulations regarding human cremains, Germany being one, so always verify what the rules are.