If you’re an avid golfer stuck in a cold climate during the “off season,” golf travel is on your mind.
You are most likely itching to pack your clubs and head out for the nearest warm golf course. I know how you feel.
I live in New England and once the hard frost settles in over the fairways, playing golf is just not fun. Last year I was lucky enough to spend a month in sunny Florida with some golfing buddies, and played on some challenging courses and met some very interesting people—one of the best benefits of traveling. Another great benefit besides playing in warm weather and escaping the cold of the north—just getting out on the road is a bright idea in and of itself. Traveling is actually good for your health!
But getting there was a challenge. Through trial and error I’ve learned some really good tips on how to plan your golf trip, get the best deals on air travel, what to take, what to leave at home, and the best way to juggle golf clubs, luggage, and a cup of coffee.
Here are seven of my top travel tips to make your next golf travel adventure go a little easier.
#1 Plan Ahead. If you plan on staying for an extended period of time (two weeks or more) start searching for a place to stay at least 6 – 8 months ahead of time. There’s tight competition for the best locations so start your search early. If it’s a condo, private home or townhouse you want, check out VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner) They have a very robust website with lots of options. Another site to consider is Airbnb.com. This is a less formal arrangement. Hosts often live in the same house you are renting and share a room or an apartment. I have family members who have really enjoyed their Airbnb experiences. Costs are often less than more formal condo rentals and much less than hotels!
#2 Book your Tee Times Early. There are many websites now that feature pre-booking for golf tee times. In fact, at some of the better golf courses, pre-bookiing is essential or you’ll never get on the course. You can always call a golf course or club directly, but here are a couple of the best booking sites I’ve come across:
#3 Do you need to travel by air? and you want to save money. Right? Don’t you want a cheap flight? Many consumers mistakenly believe the days of cheap and affordable airfares are gone. They aren’t You just need to know where to look and how to find these cheap rates. How?
Compare airlines. Unless you are flying out of and flying into a very small airport, you should have at least three different air carriers to choose from. Most can choose from at least five. Visit the websites of well-known and budget airlines operating in the United States. You can do this with a standard internet search. Then, request a free travel quote for your intended dates of travel. You should get varying results. Compare your findings. Which airline will get you to and from your destination the cheapest? Signup for email alerts from airlines and travel websites so you can be alerted when a ticket price is discounted. Be flexible if you can. For most airlines the least expensive day to fly is Wednesday, and a mid-day or overnight flight will save you even more money. Be certain you double check baggage fees. If you are checking your golf clubs as well as a large piece of luggage be prepared. You may find it smarter to ship your clubs ahead…. and that brings me to tip #4 your golf bag and shipping info…
#4. If you’ve never traveled with your golf clubs, you will need to buy a travel bag. You’ve spent a lot of money on those clubs and they need to be protected! This is one area where trying to get away with an inexpensive bag you bought at the local discount store will not be to your advantage. It only takes one clumsy baggage handler a second to drop your golf clubs onto the tarmac or the station platform and snap an unprotected golf club in two. In an earlier post I suggested several different bags you might consider… but this latest one The ClubGlider from SunMountain has only just been on the market for a short time and it’s getting rave reviews. You can purchase the ClubGlider online at Amazon.com if your local retail store does not carry it. Not only does it give superior protection for your clubs, but the fold away legs allow you to easily maneuver your bag. This is especially helpful when you’ve decide to carry your own clubs with you…. and that brings me to tip 5
#5 Ship Sticks – the easiest way to get your golf clubs to your destination is to ship them ahead of time. Not only does it make your life a lot less of a hassle, but you save on “sports bag” baggage fees which can easily add $100 to your travel costs. I’ve used the company a couple of times and find them to be a great way to save money and get your golf clubs to where you’re going in one piece. They will pick your clubs up at your home or office and deliver them anywhere for $49!!! (This is their ground rate to ship to most destinations, so you do have to plan ahead. Next day delivery is also available.) Check their web site for all the details and get a quote.
#6 What to pack. You have your location picked out, you’ve bought tickets, or rented your car, bought a travel bag for your clubs and decided how to get your clubs to where you’re going… Now it’s time to pack. That all depends on your style and how long you plan on being away. Two weeks? a month? two months? Do you need a new outfit every time you hit the links? or can a few basic pieces be enough if they are all color coordinated?
I know one golfer who never packs any golf clothes. He carries a backpack with just the essentials, i.e. toothbrush etc. and, of course, his golf clubs. Once he reaches his destination, he goes shopping and buys all new golf clothes for his stay and the upcoming season. Then he ships them home in his golf bag. But that might not be your style.
Here’s a list from LPGA golf pro, Kathy Gildersleeve-Jensen with her take on the essential golf equipment you should carry.
- Golf Bag (the lightest one you own)
- Golf Clubs (9-14) Don’t bring clubs you seldom use
- Golf shoes – 1 pair should be enough, you can always buy a new pair if your first pair gets soaked
- Socks – bring extra!
- Waterproof jacket and hat (expect sunshine but plan for a little rain)
- Umbrella (this is optional… if you never walk, the golf cart will protect you most of the way)
- Golf Balls – bring more than you think you’ll need, especially if you’re playing on a new course
- Golf Gloves – 2
- Divot Tool, Golf Tees
- Sunglasses, Sunscreen, Lip Balm, Bug Spray
- Range Finder, Phone Apps (whatever you fancy)
#7 Cash or Credit Cards? There’s no doubt credit cards are the better choice when traveling. Not only is your credit card protected against theft, but depending on the card, every purchase you make can add points to your rewards balance and help pay for your next trip.
Keep a small amount of cash on hand for incidental purchases, but for everything else, a credit card is preferred. Never use a Debit card for a purchase. There is no insurance coverage and if the clerk makes a mistake and charges you $89.00 for an $8.99 purchase that money is out of your account and into his instantly. You will have to wait at least 30 days to get the money back. It happened to me!!! A credit card on the other hand can be reimbursed immediately.And be sure to keep a record of your account numbers just in case you lose a card and have to call your bank or credit card company.
Be smart about keeping your money, cards, passport, tickets, keys — even your phone — safe in an RFID lined wallet or money belt. There are many available for purchase online. New technology makes it very easy for pickpockets to steal your credit card information and personal ID with one swipe of a hand-held scanner. A money belt with an RFID lining allows you to carry the essential documents you need, without fear of losing them to an electronic thief.
Bottom Line: No matter when you travel, with a little planning and some good luck in the weather department, you should have a wonderful time.
Let us know where you travel. Add your comment in the space below.