Before the Trip
When planning a golf trip there are several things to consider. Are you traveling as a couple? With a family? With a group of like – minded, golf – addicted friends? Are you a “do it yourself” type of traveler who enjoys the research and planning almost as much as the trip itself, or do you prefer to leave the planning to someone else? Perhaps you’re traveling for business and just want to get in a few rounds?
The Independent Golf Traveler
Let’s take a look at several scenarios. We’ll start with the traveling couple who both golf but like to experience the destination in other ways. At least one of the partners likes to plan and research using the internet. First, book the flight and the accommodations. Try Expedia or Travelzoo.com for travel specials. Tripadvisor.com is good for hotel and bed and breakfast reviews.
Choose bed and breakfasts for the personal service and (usually) good advice on local golf conditions. The B&B option will almost always work out cheaper than staying at a resort or hotel, particularly in Canada and Europe. If price is the main concern, it’s probably worth keeping an eye on stay and play deals especially in the off season. I’m thinking northern Arizona or North and South Carolina in the spring.
Choose Golf Courses Carefully
While the online photos can be a real selling point, bear in mind they are often shot close up or show only the desirable elements of a course and backdrops. Many golf courses are built on or very near housing developments, that are not always visible in photos. Choose several courses you find appealing. Check tee time availability and booking procedures before leaving home. Try to find courses that are close together so you don’t spend all day driving. Cars can either be pre booked or rented upon your arrival.
Stagger tee times around other interests and activities. Many golfers prefer the one day on, one day off approach to golf. If you intend to spend time off the course, it’s a good idea to choose golf destinations that suit your interests. Foodies and art and culture lovers will want to be near large urban centers, while natural settings will appeal to hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Extracurricular activities are an even bigger consideration when traveling with children or non golfers. Everyone must agree beforehand on childcare and alternative leisure time activities.
Beware the hardcore buddy golf extravaganzas. Sure, the all inclusive, all you can golf deals are appealing but check the location of your accommodations for nearby attractions, restaurants and bars. Sometimes, the “golf til you drop” trips offer limited access to non golfing activities and facilities can be minimal. Check for tourist attractions and services close by.
Avoid the temptation to play 36 holes of golf straight. It’s a bad idea for Northerners who’ve just spent umpteen hours in a car to start madly hitting golf balls – with golf muscles that have gone soft over a long winter! Better to fly if you’re considering the all you can golf trip. And if there was ever a time to choose your playing partners carefully, this is it. Don’t forget extra shoes, socks, sweaters, rain gear and band aids. And keep them close. In your golf bag.
The Business Traveler
The I- just- wanna- get- a -few -rounds- in business traveler is to be envied for the ease of his golf trip planning. It’s simple. RENT. Don’t bring the clubs! OK, maybe that telescoping putter. And you can’t function without your 3-wood? Before leaving home check for courses that are a reasonable cab ride from your hotel. Business travelers to San Diego get off easy. The course in Balboa Park is pleasant, fun and a quick cab ride to major hotels and convention centers.