Your Golf Trip: How Many Days? How Many Rounds?
The first big decision for planning a golf trip is where to go. Note: this isn’t the most important decision a golf captain will make. Number one: deciding who to invite along on your trip. But deciding where to go is one of the two primary factors influencing the number of days you really need and the number of golf rounds you want to play.
Let’s talk about locations first. Is this an annual buddy trip that spans a long weekend? The data we collect at GolfTripGenius.com suggests that the most popular itinerary is a Friday afternoon round, 36 holes on Saturday and a morning round on Sunday before departing. Are you planning a bucket list trip? We see examples of these trips running at least 5 days and sometimes 7 or 8. Budget aside; don’t plan to go to Ireland for fewer than 6 days and at least 7 or 8 rounds. On the other hand, 7 days in Myrtle Beach might be a golf death march (alternatively, the après golf may kill you first).
As a general rule, the shorter your travel time the more time you are going to have for golf. If you fly to Scottsdale from the east coast of the US, you can play on the day you arrive, but not the departure day unless you want to take the Phoenix red eye home. If your destination is closer to home, say greater Orlando, the low country or Pinehurst, you will have time for a round on both day of arrival and departure. If you have your sights set on Great Britain and Ireland, or Bandon Dunes, you need a full travel day on each end of your trip. In fact, if you are flying to the Isles, you may want to try and go an extra day early. That day of arrival round, if you can squeeze one in, will be bleary-eyed and ugly.
Another factor that’s going to affect the number of rounds you play is weather. In Scottsdale, it’s very unlikely you’ll miss a round due to rain. In Scotland or Ireland, it’s almost guaranteed. Yes, you can and should play in the drizzle, but when it's raining sideways and the wind's blowing 40 mph, the pub and Guinness on draught look awfully tempting. Rain happens all the time in the old country, I’m just guessing that’s why its so relentlessly green over there. Bandon in the off-season? At least one day of rain all day during your visit. Casa de Campo or Punta Cana at the same time of year? More likely you’ll have only an hour or two of rain all week. Remember, memories are made of the guys…and the weather. Trust me.
The other primary factor is budget: how much do you want to spend? Having a firm number in mind will do more to guide your days/rounds decision than any other factor aside from destination choice. In fact, destination selection and budget limit are firmly interrelated. We see trips that cost less than $1,000 all-in. That’s usually a road trip to great value (and great golf) destinations like Myrtle Beach or Northern Michigan. On the other hand, you can spend upwards of $4,000 per golfer at resorts just a few hours from Myrtle, like the great Kiawah Island or Pinehurst. You can head over to the other side of Lake Michigan and spend the same at Kohler. Going overseas doesn’t necessarily mean a $5,000 journey (although it's easy to spend that much), but you are going to be challenged to do a multi-day, multi-round itinerary for less than $2,500 plus airfare.
When you have the discussion with your carefully selected group of golfers, recommend a place or two, and a ballpark cost. There’s lots of great golf out there at a range of interesting places.
So remember: hit ‘em straight, bring an umbrella, and your SPF 30.