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Golf Trip Planning: The Ultimate Guide

Keith Moehring
November 4, 2022
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Like most golfers, you likely dream of taking a golf trip to some far-off destination at least once in your life. Maybe you have already started planning and are wondering how on Earth you will pull it off. Or perhaps you are just getting started.

Regardless of your situation, this guide is for you! We'll look at everything from choosing a destination to packing your bags.

1. How to Choose a Golf Destination

When choosing a golf destination, there are a few things to consider, including climate, course type, treks, and bucket list destinations. 

Course Climate

First, think about what kind of climate you want. If you're looking for warm-weather golfing, a place like Florida or Arizona might be a good choice. But then you have to decide what type of warm. Do you want humid or dry heat? And, as we'll cover later, when you want to go. 

Or if you're looking for cooler weather, then a place like Scotland or Canada might be a better option.

Course Type

The most important consideration is the type of course(s) you want to play. There are many different options around the world, each with its own unique features and challenges. Some of the most popular types of courses include links courses, seaside courses, and parkland courses.

  • Links courses are often considered the most challenging type of golf course. They feature sand dunes, strong winds, and other natural obstacles, making for a very interesting (and frustrating) round of golf. If you're looking for an adventure and a challenge, then a links course is the perfect destination for your next golf trip.
  • Seaside courses are typically located near the ocean and offer beautiful water and coastline views. They can also be quite challenging, as the wind can be blustery and the hazards are seriously hazardous. If you're looking for some picturesque golfing, then a seaside course is the perfect destination for your next golf trip.
  • Parkland courses are typically located in more rural areas and offer a more peaceful and relaxing golfing experience. They can also be quite challenging, featuring hurdles like trees, lakes and strategically placed sandtraps. If you're looking for a beautiful golfing experience surrounded by nature, then a parkland course is the perfect destination for your next golf trip.

Golf Treks

Or maybe you want a predefined trek of courses to play. There are some fantastic golf trails to consider.

  • The Great Northern Golf Trail
  • The Wisconsin Golf Trail
  • The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail
  • The Citrus Golf Trail (Florida)
  • The Celtic Trail in Scotland
  • The Pacific Northwest Trail in the United States
  • The Cape to Rio Trail in South Africa
  • The Japan Golf Trail

Visit for a full list of trail ideas.

Side Note: Read about the greatest golf trip of all time in, "A Course Called Ireland" by Tom Coyne. He walked and played every links course around the course of Ireland. It's a fantastic read (or listen)

Bucket List Trips

Maybe your golf trip is more of a bucket list thing. In this case, you may already have a destination in mind. Here are just a few of the top bucket list courses.

  1. Pebble Beach, California
  2. St. Andrews, Scotland
  3. Kapalua, Maui
  4. Bandon Dunes, Oregon
  5. Sawgrass, Florida
  6. Pinehurst Resort, North Carolina
  7. Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Australia
  8. The K Club, Ireland
  9. Torrey Pines Golf Course, California
  10. Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand

Surrounding Attractions

If golf isn't your only objective, you'll also want to consider the nearby attractions, activities and nightlife. Some of the top cities associated with golf destination trips include:

  • Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Palm Springs, California
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

2. How to Pick the Right Time to Go

Many people go on a golf trip in the warmer months, when the weather is nice everywhere. Summer is a great time to visit places that shut down in the winter months. In the US, that includes the Northeast and Midwest regions. There are a lot of great, championship-level courses throughout both regions.

At the same time, think long and hard about traveling to courses in humid areas like George and Florida or desert climates like Arizona in the summer unless you're looking to shed some water weight. 

If you're planning a winter / early spring golf trip to escape the cold winter weather, consider heading to a sunny golf destination during the winter months. You'll be able to find some great deals on hotels and golf courses, and you'll avoid the crowds. Just make sure to pack your warm clothes; even the warm places are a little cool in the morning and evening.

Check out these cities that get golf play all year round.

  • Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Palm Springs, California
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

3. How to Set a Golf Trip Budget

Budget is a huge factor in planning your trip. While you may be willing to fork over thousands, your buddy with 4 kids, 3 dogs, a mortgage, and college loans may be a little hesitant.

Start budgeting by talking to the core group you plan on traveling with. Get a range of what they'd be willing to spend on a golf trip. That number will be your initial limit, and then you'll play the game to see how you can maximize the value for that money.

The main expenses that are going to challenge your budget are:

  1. Airfare. Airfare will be one of the most expensive line items if you're traveling to a far-off destination. Some destinations are more expensive to fly to than others. Tourist destination spots will tend to cost less than flights to less frequented areas of the country just because of the number of flights available.
  2. Lodging. Next, think about accommodations. You've got options to save or splurge depending on how you like to travel.
  3. Food and Drink. Eating out at a restaurant every night is going to get expensive quickly. Not to mention the bar tab if you go out after dinner.
  4. Golf. Playing 36 or more holes a day can get pricey, depending on where you go and the type of courses you want to play.
  5. Gambling. Many people don't factor this into their budget, but if you're thinking about betting and side games for your trip, someone is likely to do well and someone isn't. Compounding this is if you go to a golf destination like Las Vegas, where gamblers will be gamblers.

Ways to Save on a Golf Trip

If you're trying to be thrifty, here are a few ways to save money on your golf trip.

  1. Look for package deals. Many golf destinations offer package deals that include airfare, hotel, and golf course fees. So be sure to compare prices, and don't be afraid to use one package's price when negotiating with another.
  2. Stay at a vacation rental. Instead of staying at a pricey hotel, consider renting a vacation home or condo that everyone can stay at. This will enable you all to split the cost evenly. A couple of sites to check out are Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway.
  3. Find a nearby grocery store. Rather than eating out at a restaurant every night, hit up a nearby grocery store and buy food and drinks for the duration of your trip.
  4. Golf at cheaper courses. If you want to save money on golf fees, consider playing at cheaper courses. You can usually find these courses by doing a little bit of research online.
  5. Avoid peak season. As I mentioned, some destinations are more expensive during certain times of year. So if you're on a tight budget, try to avoid going during peak season.

4. How to Book Your Accommodations and Tee Times

There are several different ways to book your accommodations for a golf trip. You can book through a travel agent, online travel site, or directly with the hotel or golf course. Here are a few pros and cons of each option:

Booking through a travel agent

  • Pros: A travel agent can help you find the best deals on airfare, hotels, and golf courses. They can also help you with booking other activities and arranging airport transfers.
  • Cons: Travel agents get paid most often on commission from vendors, but some are starting to charge service and consultation fees. Get the facts about their fees upfront.

Booking through an online travel site

  • Pros: Online travel sites offer a wide variety of deals on airfare, hotels, and golf courses. They also typically have a user-friendly interface, so it's easy to compare prices and find the best deal.
  • Cons: There is usually a small fee associated with booking through an online travel site. And since these sites are so popular, it can be difficult to get last-minute reservations. Not to mention, they won't be able to personalize the recommendations to your needs the same way a travel agent with local knowledge may.

Booking directly with the hotel or golf course

  • Pros: Direct bookings often come with discounts, especially if you're booking multiple rooms or rounds of golf. Since you're dealing with the source, there are fewer third parties to make mistakes.
  • Cons: It can be difficult to find availability at popular hotels and golf courses during peak season.

5. How to Recruit and Convince Golfers to Join Your Trip

There's no better way to enjoy a golf trip than with your friends. But convincing them to come along can be a daunting task. So here are a few tips to help make the process a little bit easier:

  1. Make a list of all the reasons why they should go. In reality, if they need someone to create a list, they probably aren't going to go anyway. But, sometimes it helps to see all the reasons written down.
  2. Appeal to their sense of adventure. Many people love exploring new places and trying out new things. So tell them about all the amazing things they'll see and do while on the trip.
  3. Create a PowerPoint Presentation. The content of the presentation won't convince them to go, but they may acquiesce just to get you to stop.
  4. Give them a clear budget. Money will be the most common objection you hear. So, present everyone with a clear budget that details how much the trip is expected to cost and what they'll get for the money. 
  5. Peer pressure. More than likely, a handful of people will say, "Yes" before you finish asking if they want to go. Conspire with them to peer pressure your other friends who are on the fence.
  6. Begging is always a last resort, but it is a quiver you can shoot if necessary. Your friends may lose some respect for you in the short term, but by the end, they'll thank you for humiliating yourself on their behalf.

6. How to Convincing Significant Others

One of the biggest challenges of planning a golf trip is convincing your wife or significant other that you should go. After all, it's not exactly their idea of a vacation. Or, making the ask harder, you are planning a guys-only trip. 

The good news is with a little strategic effort, you can get their sign-off. Here are some arguments to try:

  1. They'll get to spend quality time with you as well as your friends' wives (hopefully they like each other). A golf trip is perfect for catching up with old friends and making some new ones.
  2. You'll get to experience something new and exciting. Golfing in a new destination is an experience that everyone should try at least once in their lifetime.
  3. If spouses are invited, it'll be a vacation that they won't have to worry about planning. All the hard work will be taken care of, so they can just show up, relax and enjoy themselves. Beach destination trips help a lot with this approach.
  4. If spouses are invited, they'll get to see you having fun and smiling. One of the best things about going on a golf trip is sharing the experience with your spouse. Note: This argument is weak at best and will probably make her laugh at you. That's good because you're lightening the mood. It's a tactical play.

If you're planning a guys' trip, you need to have a better strategy, and you need to start early. Check out this article for help.

7. What to Pack for Your Golf Trip

When it comes to packing for your golf trip, there are a few essentials that you won't want to forget. Here are a few of the most important things to bring with you:

  1. Golf Clubs: This one is obvious! Spend the money to bring your own clubs. The golf will be hard enough, you don't need to also figure out how to hit new clubs on top of it. 
  2. Golf Shoes: Again obvious, but the right golf shoes matter. Sore feet will make the last few days miserable. If you're going to a wetter climate (e.g., tropical), ensure they are waterproof.
  3. Good Socks: Playing golf and walking all day will tax your feet. A good pair of socks can help ensure you're still at peak performance at the end of the trip.
  4. Layers ofClothes: It's important to dress for the weather and the course, so pack a few different outfits and plan for layers. Windbreakers, ponchos, hats are all recommended.
  5. Sunscreen: The sun can be brutal on golfers, so make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen to protect yourself from sunburn.
  6. Sunglasses: Another must-have for golfers, sunglasses will help protect your eyes from the sun's glare.
  7. Advil: Taking an Advil before bed after a heavy night of drinking can help limit or eliminate the headache the next morning. This way, you're fresh and ready for that day's golf. 

8. How to Transport Your Golf Clubs

When it comes to transporting your golf clubs, there are a few different approaches. 

  1. Golf Travel Bag. This piece of luggage is the recommended way to transport your clubs. Travel bags include features that protect your clubs from damage. You'll have to check a bag at the airport, but having your own sticks for a golf trip is worth it. Get a bag with wheels!
  2. Club Cover. If you don't have a golf travel bag, you can also use a club cover that snaps to your golf bag. Some covers are more sturdy than others, so spend some time finding one that will protect, not just cover.

Of course, with travel, comes the risk of damage or lost golf clubs. The alternative is to rent clubs at the course. Most courses have rental clubs available for a reasonable fee. And depending on how old and beat up your clubs are, the rental clubs may be an upgrade.

9. Enjoy Your Golf Vacation!

When you're there, take a lot of pictures and videos. Having memories to remind you of the good times is always a good idea. And, these images can also double as blackmail material on the friend who overindulged that one night. Always helpful in a pinch.  


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