If you are an avid golf fan, at least once in your lifetime, if your means allow for it, traveling abroad to experience golf in a completely new environment is a must-do. From soaking up a new culture to eating the local cuisine and potentially even playing golf in completely new surroundings to what you are used to, you won’t regret putting effort into organizing your trip.
For the most part, the same big rules for organizing a standard golf trip remain the same. Plan early, avoid planning by a committee, and do your research. But when you are planning to visit somewhere unfamiliar, there are a few different things you may need to consider
- The basics of travelling overseas.
Before you even start to talk golf, do your research on where you plan to play.
- First and foremost do your research into travel and visa requirements. Check everyone in your group has a passport and if they don’t get them onto creating one. You also need to check if there are local travel visas to apply for.
- Ensure you understand the local climate first and foremost and when may suit best for golf. For example a lot of golf is played in Spring in the USA but in other countries that an be a very wet time and you are better to aim for autumn or even winter
- Whilst not a massive issue normally understand the local hazards that could come into play also. Do you need to be prepared for any medical issues or do you need any special travel vacinations. I can speak first hand for also not doing my research thoroughly into the local wildlife that may be a factor. Snakes on the course in Tasmania, and deadly ones at that, were a much underestimated threat for my first round on course.
- Get your head around the local currency and what is considered standard pricing for golf and general travel. Ensure that your overall budget for the trip can be achieved in a foreign land.
- Even look into roaming charges that may be incurred if you want your mobile phones to work overseas
Particularly when you are trying to get a big group together for a trip, the more you can research in advance, the better.
- Think about the order of priority for what you book first.
If you are happy to play anywhere, then, by all means, fire away and book flights first. You may get better rates this way. But if you have some particular golf courses, you want to play and have limited tee times, book your golf first. You may not be able to get all the courses you want to play booked in advance, but if you can get 1 or 2 and work backward, that’s a great start.
Also, when you travel internationally, keep in mind that you may be able to play more easily during the week than when you are closer to home. Traveling Saturday to Saturday is a great way to waste your travel days when there is peak demand on course.
- Don’t forget about the smaller details of air travel
It’s easy when planning international travel to book the large flight first and then forget about the details needed to pull it all together. You will need to think about connecting flights and whether your itinerary can be linked together. Otherwise, give yourself plenty of time between flights.
You also need to research fully the baggage limits for each flight you are on and even think about space if you are renting your own car at the other end.
- Golf may be different than what you are used to
Part of the charm of golfing in new locations is the new experiences you will have. Even if they are different from what you expect. When I golf in the USA, I have never felt 100% comfortable with someone getting my golf clubs out of the car when I pull up or having someone clean my clubs after my round, because where I grew up in New Zealand, we are operating very much in a ‘do it yourself manner. Even at the true world-class golf courses in New Zealand. There are not bins of free tees or markers to grab, and there may not even be a beverage cart on most days.
Does that mean the golf is any worse? Absolutely not. In fact, I often marvel about being one of 4 or 8 people who often have a whole golf course to ourselves.
Do you research before you go, keep your expectations open, and talk to the course pros when you arrive to get the lay of the land ( if there is even a pro ). Remember that in the end, what matters is that you are playing golf.
- Fewer hotels – Home base
A mistake I have made before with international trips is trying to move too much within a country to pick a home base that allows you to explore several courses without packing and unpacking.
- Get a driver
Full disclosure, I have never done this, but I have friends who have hired drivers for large groups to keep the logistics simple, especially if you are driving in a very foreign country or on roads where you are used to traveling on the opposite side! Best of all, you can have a few drinks on the course without the fear of what to do next.
- Think smart about whether to take your clubs.
Long story short, this may be a costly decision, or it could be based on how difficult moving clubs can be. Do your research into airline costs and do your research into costs for hire clubs at your playing courses.
In the past, I have found that once you play more than 2 round carrying your own sticks make sense.
In some countries, it’s worth understanding that the quality of rental clubs may vary wildly, so if you wish to enjoy your golf as much as you can, I always advise you to take your own equipment.
- If it’s all feeling like too much … use an agent
If you are ever going to use a travel or golf booking agent, it should be for an International trip. They will know the ins and outs of many of the problems I have suggested to research above, and specialty golf agents may be able to get you on special courses you can not access yourself.
Done well. You may not even have to spend more if the agent has great knowledge and buying power.
Just make sure you are on the same wavelength regards standards of golf, accommodation, travel, etc.
IF you are considering an overseas trip and are scared to leap… do it. You will never regret the lifetime of memories you will create.