Whether you’re a seasoned golf travel veteran or are planning your first overseas gold trip, the process of planning a trip can be daunting unless you follow a few basic rules. Of course, the easiest thing to do would be to hire a golf travel planner. We’ve used them before and many are excellent. But if you enjoy doing the planning yourself, here’s a guide to help make It easier. Just use the simple formula that grade school kids learn: “Who, What, Where, When and How”.
A seven-to-ten-day golf trip abroad is exciting, but invariably the combination of late night pints, little sleep, unpredictable weather, and constant travel to cover great golf ground will wear on one’s nerves. Invite the guys you know who can get along with each other in all these conditions. (Four days into our first poorly planned trip, one participant got out of the car and walked to town after another buddy rubbed him the wrong way. Don’t be that guy.) Before you invite anyone, spell out to them what’s involved and gauge their willingness to be flexible. Oh, and match the snorers together in the same room. Everyone else will thank you for it.
Is your goal to play as much golf as is possible? Do you want to take a few days off to relax and rest your bones between rounds? Decide what your goals are here first. In the early years, we’d play nine or ten rounds in a ten-day trip. Grueling. Today, we opt for one or two days off in the middle of the trip to enjoy some of the local color and recharge the batteries. Either option is fine, but set your trip up according to your goals.
Obviously, an important consideration is where you plan to go. Ireland and Scotland are both stellar choices, but if you’ve been there and done that, the Algarve area of Portugal and coastal Spain are also excellent for golf trips. And don’t forget Great Britain. Most of these options are easily reachable from most major US cities in a day or less.
Generally, we advise going when the weather will likely be the best. For Europe, that means May through September. You can get some great rates if you go in April or October, but the weather can be a bit more challenging as well. If you’re headed to Australia or New Zealand, December through April are best.
Here’s the step-by-step manual for planning the “how’s” of your trip in order of importance:
- Plan your routing for golf. You’ll want to keep your travel times to a minimum. For an 8-10-day trip, use a maximum of two hotels for home base. Packing and moving every two days is no fun.
- Once you’ve planned your routing, call and book your tee times. Most clubs will hold your reservation with a refundable deposit until you can get the rest of your trip details settled. NOTE WELL: You will likely need to book at least six months in advance for a group of eight players. And, many clubs overseas have quirky rules, such as no outside play on Tuesdays.
- Book your accommodations. Find one or two centrally located hotels or Bed and Breakfasts that can accommodate your group. And always negotiate breakfast into the deal. They’re usually willing to accommodate it for a large party.
- Book your coach/driver. We highly recommend hiring a coach service to transport you from point to point rather than driving yourself. For one, driving yourself limits your ability to imbibe in a few pints after your round. Second, Europe’s smaller roads are notoriously confusing in terms of directions. Third, an experienced coach driver will add tremendous value as a tour guide. Yes, it’s more expensive than renting cars, but do you really want to screw up your trip or miss a tee time because you got lost? We didn’t think so.
- Line up restaurants in advance. By making reservations, you’ll be sure to have a table ready when you return from a long day on the links. Most restaurants stop serving around 9pm, but many will stay open a bit later for a large party booking in advance.
- Coordinate everyone’s arrival and departure times. It’s best to fly together when possible, but make sure everyone plans to arrive at the same time. Flight cancellations or delays can result in everyone waiting at the airport for several hours for a straggler.
Following these helpful tips can ensure your golf trip abroad is a rousing success. So get started now!