Books such as Fifty Places to Play Golf Before You Die, The 500 World’s Greatest Golf Holes and Golf Courses: Fairways of the World routinely make it to bestseller lists, and inspire tens of thousands of golfing enthusiasts each year to jet across the world to find the courses of their dreams. The travel industry reports a staggering 10% growth rate year-on-year for golfing tourism.
If the idea of putting your game to the test of the world’s most beautiful and challenging courses from Latin America to the Far East gets your blood pumping, you need two things: an expert to take care of the details of your trip so that you can get your head into a golfing state of mind, and information on how to pack.
To begin, should you arrange your trip on your own or find an expert?
When it comes to finding beautiful golf courses around the country, it usually isn’t hard arranging your own trips. If you need help making basic arrangements, you even get to look to the airlines. Delta Vacations and Continental Vacations offer inexpensive golf vacation packages to places such as Las Vegas, with hotels, entertainment and transportation thrown in.
A professional golf tour operator can be useful for a domestic trip, though, if you need tickets to both watch and play at a Masters or other tournament. Getting tickets as well as access to these golf courses can require the connections that only an expert tour operator is capable of.
If your plan is a bit more exotic and involves golf courses around the world, a tour operator such as LuxuryGolfHolidays.com can be a huge asset. Not only can a professional help you with expert knowledge of the best places to visit at different times of the year, they can score you access to exclusive private locations such as the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland.
Perhaps the best part of using a tour operator is that you know that you will never face unpleasant surprises. Globe-trotting golfers often find their entire schedule thrown off simply because of a local festival that they never knew of, or maintenance closures that no one ever told them about.
Once you have your travel plans set out, it’s time to think about what you’ll take with you.
Rethink taking your clubs
Transporting a set of golf clubs can be more expensive than you think. If you’re traveling overseas, each flight that you take should cost you an additional $100 for the bag. It could add up to a substantial sum. Unless you have a very special set of clubs that you will not be parted from, it does make sense to simply ask your tour operator to arrange for a set of clubs wherever you go. In most countries in Europe, for instance, you can rent a full set of high-quality clubs for as little as $45 a day.
But you should pack accessories
You should be aware of that golf courses overseas don’t stock golf balls; buying them can be very expensive, as well. Packing a generous supply is a good idea. You should also carry plenty of extra tees, divot repair kits, waterproof golf shoes and shoe trees, stain remover and a top-quality golf umbrella that can stand up to strong winds.
Pack your golfing gizmos well
From range finders to special golf GPS devices and high-speed cameras with inbuilt swing analyzers, golfers have access to plenty of high-tech aids. You want to make sure that your golfing tools are safely packed with protection. If you’re carrying a golf bag, it is not a good idea to simply throw these items into the bag. They could easily fall out in transit, or sustain other damage.
Prepare for the weather
As an outdoor sport played in unfamiliar surroundings, the game of golf tends to present a challenge to golfers. You need to be prepared for the sun, and for when it rains. Waterproof clothes, a raincoat and plenty of high-SPF sunscreen are the basic essentials to pack.
Finally, make sure that you get insurance
If you’ve worked hard to save for your dream golf vacation, you don’t want to lose it to unexpected bad weather, strikes, illness or anything else. You should ask your golf tour operator about insurance cover. You do want to protect your investment.
Patrick Sutherland is a seasoned golf tourist and works as a travel consultant. He likes to share his thoughts online and has already written for a number of golf, hobby and sporting websites.