How hard can planning a golf trip be? Organize some accommodation and transport. Pick some courses, and you have a golf trip. Technically this is true, but as anyone that has been on an epic golf trip will know, the difference between a trip you will remember for years and a quick round in the city next door to yours is huge!
If you are now ready to start planning your adventure, here are some guiding points you will want to consider. Each of these subjects will be broken down in future blogs, but let’s start with the basics:
Time of year
One of the trickier subjects to get consensus around. Depending on where you live in the world, you may need to consider extreme temperatures and what is comfortable for your group, plus you will need to consider busy and quiet seasons in regards to what the cost of the overall trip might be. Another consideration may be whether you wish to play 36 holes in a day and what times of year allow that.
Most of my most successful golf trips have normally taken place in the shoulder seasons – spring and autumn. Generally, my buddies have more time to travel. If you book well in advance, pricing is a healthy medium between off-season and peak season rates. Particularly if you pick a spring trip, it can be a great distraction for getting through the pain of winter.
Whatever you end up picking, set a date in stone early as it will help get commitments early, which is what you need for the next stage in your planning.
The affordability of a golf trip will always be a very subjective conversation. Just as no two golf courses are the same, no participants will view spending the same in your golf trip. Typically, you’ll have a mix of big spenders and penny pinchers. The key is striking a balance and being as transparent as you can be upfront.
Depending on where you choose to venture, some of your buddies will automatically self-select out of your adventure, and that’s fine. Remember you are planning the trip for yourself first and foremost.
From my experience, the key to keeping things cost-effective is establishing early with your group what the priority items for your trip are. If you are willing to travel at less than desirable times or not stay in 5-star luxury, you may be more willing to spend more on golf courses, which in my opinion is what people remember anyway. In recent years private homestays, such as Air BnB, have been a great middle point between comfort and affordability. You can often cater for some of your own meals and buy your own drinks, which can bring down the overall cost of any trip.
The keys to discussing cost with your buddies are;
- Do you research. Talk to courses and see if they have any specials or bundle offers. You may be surprised by what you find. Replay golf rates are a great example
- Put together an estimate for cost as early as you can, to weed out any tyre kickers.
- Put golf first if you are on a budget.
Courses … and how much to play
For some, golf trips are just about the time away with friends. For others, it may be about the thrill of playing some top-ranked courses. Figuring out what your group is into is a big part of any successful trip.
Whilst it may burn your pocket at the time, playing at least one noteworthy course is never something I’ve felt people regret post-trip. It’s also a great nod to your better golfers and their desire to test themselves on a potentially tougher track.
But once you have ticked off your bucket list courses, the rest of the trip is all about personal choice. If you cannot secure cheaper replay rates at your courses of choice, I always favor playing a mix of cheaper (and potentially easier) locations. Ticking off another new course is always fun, will balance out costs for your group, and offer you a chance to mix up formats and see other parts of the area you are in
How much golf you play is also a big question to answer. 36 holes in a day are fun. But probably a not sustainable day in and day out. If a course (such as Bandon Dunes) offers some replay rates that make a big day worth it – go for it. I’d suggest making the second 18 of the day optional for your group or potentially make the second 18 a more enjoyable format.
Who to invite?
Start simple with this question. Invite who you want to invite. This is meant to be fun. Start small and try to fill up a golf foursome initially, and then once you have done this work, ideally in groups of 4.
The trip you put together will mean some potential participants are not interested due to cost or ‘love of golf’ reasons. That’s fine. There are always other avid golf enthusiasts out there, and some of my favorite trips have involved people I have met a the airport on day 1 for the first time.
Rest assured, whatever choices you make, you are on the way to an adventure that you and your golf buddies will remember for a lifetime.