From rather pricey equipment to perfectly-matched outfits, golf has often been considered a sport of luxury and leisure. Many people, whether amateur or pro players, enjoy the occasional golf trip away. While the allure of heading off on a leisurely golf holiday abroad is obvious, there are also a lot of factors that golfers need to take into account when planning their trip.
Here are the most important tips to make sure that your golf trip abroad is "under par".
Learn About The Golf Course
There are thousands upon thousands of different golf courses around the world. When you decide on the city you’re going to visit, it’s very important to make sure that you know about the course you’re going to be playing on. As a golf player, you'll want to know if the course has 9 or 18 holes, and also if the course is hilly or flat. Another thing you’ll want to make yourself aware of is if there are any “hazards” on the course, such as sand traps, lakes and ponds. Some golf courses have varying lengths of grass in order to make it more challenging - so if you’re really just there to play for fun, you might want to find out if the course has neat, short grass.
Besides remembering to pack the obvious things such as clothes, passports and golf equipment, you’ll also need to try to think ahead of time. Extra golf balls might be helpful - especially if you have a favourite brand that you may not be able to get abroad. Another great item to pack is a rain suit or raincoat as you never know what the weather will be like. The best advice I could give is to call the golf course ahead of time so that you can find out the dress code. While some places will happily let you play in shorts and a collared t-shirt, others will prefer you to be in more formal gear. Oh, and always remember sunscreen.
Know The City’s Climate
A golfer’s perfect day may be wind-free, sunny, blue skies. Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t always adhere to this. Make sure that you know what the city’s general climate is like before you commit to travelling there to play golf. Wind and rain tend to be the bane of golfers’ existence - what with the wind affecting the flight of the ball and the rain messing with your vision and grip on your club. So, if the city you’re visiting is generally windy or rainy, you can be prepared and practise for that type of weather.
Know How To Travel With Equipment
Many golfers prefer to take their own equipment with them on golf trips as they tend to become accustomed to the “feel” of their own clubs. If this is the case, then it’s worth knowing that airports can sometimes be less excited than you about transporting your equipment, and you’ll need to make time for that just in case. Firstly, you’ll need to pack your equipment in a hard-case bag as it will have to be checked in as luggage, possibly handled by careless baggage handlers. Depending on the airline, you might also be charged for weight excess. Lastly, make allowance for the time between landing and actually leaving the airport - golf bags are often required to have full security checks at customs. You can find out more about travelling with sports equipment here.
Consider Hiring Golf Equipment
While most people feel more comfortable taking their own equipment, as I mentioned above, it can also prove to be an unnecessary hassle. If you’re planning on going away for only a weekend or so, it might be easier to just hire equipment rather. It would be best to call the golf course or courses you intend playing at to find out what their rental fees are like. They’re usually inexpensive, and then you can have a relaxing holiday knowing that your clubs are safe at home.
Make Sure You’re Covered
As with any other trip, there’s always the risk of something going wrong. While this isn’t exactly positive thinking, it is still a smart idea to take out travel insurance. In this case, taking out golf travel insurance will make your holiday even better knowing that your equipment is safe and covered. With a comprehensive package, your own equipment should be covered for up to £1,000 and any hired equipment for up to £200. And if you’ve pre-paid any green fees and something goes wrong, you should also be covered up to a nice sum of £300. Best of all, you can simply add golf to your existing standard policy, meaning that your medical cover will be taken care of too.
Try To Stay On The Golf Course
While this may seem like an expensive option, it’s completely worth it if you save for it. Everybody needs to splurge a little now and then, so why not on your golf trip? Many golf courses offer fantastic accommodation on site - so that you can wake up and begin your golfing without having to worry about transport and traffic. If you’re looking for an option like this, it might even be worth looking into well-known golf resorts (well, if you’re going to splurge anyway). If this isn’t exactly on your budget, I would say try to find a hotel as close to the golf course as possible. Like I said, if you save cash to spend on this, it will be completely worth it.
Look Out For Tournaments
Imagine you’re having a relaxing time at your hotel, getting ready to hit some golf balls, and you suddenly hear that there’s a major golf tournament in the area that happened to slip your mind - and now it’s too late to go. Not really the best scenario, is it? If you prepare and do your research before though, you could get a chance to see professional golf players (perhaps even Woods or McIlroy) do what they do best right in front of you. If you’re travelling to North America, for example, you should check out the PGA Tour dates just in case. Or if you’re going to sunny South Africa, you could be there at the same time as the South African Open Championship. Of course, there are tournaments throughout the year all over the world, so do some research.
Visit Golf Museums In The Area
If you really want to brush up on your knowledge of the sport before you play it, going to a golf museum is always a fun option. One of the most famous golf museums is in St. Augustine, Florida - The World Golf Hall Of Fame. This is enough to make any golf fanatic want to visit Florida for their golf trip. For just £12.50 (about $19.50), you can visit the famous museum, see the exhibits and play a round on the 18-hole course. Learn about the history of golf and its Scottish origin at the museum’s exhibits which are home to over 6,000 items. Another great exhibit is the “Member’s Locker Room” featuring over 2,000 personal artifacts of members. The museum is open daily from 10am until 6pm from Mondays to Saturdays, and from 12pm until 6pm on Sundays.
Of course, there are many other museums and exhibits dedicated to golf all over the world.
Don’t Pack The Wrong Things
While this may seem like an obvious tip, you’d be surprised at how many people make this mistake. As I mentioned before, there’s a good chance that your golf bag will be searched at airport security. So if you say that only your golf equipment is in there, please make sure that’s true, to avoid any mishaps. There have been cases where travellers have tried to sneak the odd bottle or two of alcohol past customs by packing them in with the golf clubs.
Last Updated: February 2013