Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Get the Most from Scotland Golf Travel

International golf travel is one of the hottest vacation ideas in the upcoming seasons. If you’re planning on traveling overseas to play golf, can you imagine a better place to visit than the birthplace of the royal game? Scotland golf courses are among the most beautiful and undoubtedly the most historic in the entire world. if you’re planning golf travel in the coming year, these tips can help you get the most out of a Scotland golf vacation.

Do Your Research

Scotland proves the old saying that good things come in small packages. The tiny country manages to fit more golf greens, courses and links into its borders than any other country, at least if you count by size. There are several different ways to create an itinerary for golf travel to Scotland. You could create a list of historic and famous courses you want to play and build your travel plans around them. Conversely, you choose an area of the country and research links and greens within that region. Whatever you do, be sure to check the booking requirements to book a tee time. Some of the better courses are booked months in advance while others are open to members only.

Insider Tip: A travel agent experienced in putting together Scotland golf vacations can be invaluable in helping you build the best itinerary for your personal style.

Speaking of Golf Travel Agents

While there are certainly modern golf courses in Scotland, many of the most challenging, most beautiful or most enjoyable courses were established 200 or more years ago. No one then considered the logistics of access and parking for golf fans, so a lot of them are local secrets known only to those who happen to stumble upon them – or know where to look. A lot of these gems are high on the recommendation list for golf travel agents and tour operators who maintain their own lists of the “best courses” to play in Scotland.

Insider Tip: Book tee time at Western Gailles if you can do it. It’s one of the top 100 courses in Scotland, but the play is only part of the appeal. Western Gailles has a reputation for giving golfers the royal treatment that’s hard to beat.

Learn Local Etiquette – And Observe It

Bottom line – you’ll get better service and enjoy your golf trips to Scotland far more. Some things to keep in mind when golfing in Scotland:

Never wear your hat indoors. Dress appropriately for the course, and bring a jacket and tie for the club. Always call ahead to book your tee time. Walking in unannounced is considered bad form and will get you branded as a boor.

Finally, if this is your first golf trip to Scotland and you suspect your opportunities for golf travel will be limited, splurge and pay for guaranteed tee time at the Old Course at St. Andrews. If it’s too late to book a tee time, try at least for a tour of the course. It’s an experience not be missed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

2012 Is the Year for Ireland Golf Vacations

If you’ve been holding out for lower prices before heading over to tee off in the Emerald Isle, it may be time to make your reservations. There hasn’t been a better time for Ireland golf vacations in years. After several years of unfavorable rates, the exchange rate between the Euro and the U.S. dollar has tipped on its side.

With the current exchange rate down 15 percent since 2008 – and predicted to slide even more over the next few months – you’ll get to pack more fun and more golf into your golf travel than at any time in the past four years. In fact, one prominent golf writer estimates that you’ll get up to 40 percent more for your money if you take a golf trip to Ireland this year.

For the record, this nifty little discount only applies to Ireland proper. Northern Ireland or Scotland aren’t on the Euro and aren’t seeing the same steep cuts in the value of their money, at least not this year. So skip the plans to tee off at the Old Course at St. Andrews – which you’d be lucky to do this summer anyway, since the tee times have been booked since September – and set your sights on some southwestern Ireland golf courses.

The southwestern region of Ireland is dotted with some of the most outstanding golf courses in the world. Heading south from Shannon Airport, you’ll run into such famous caourse as Ballybunion, Waterville, Old Head, Lahinch and Tralee, and such undiscovered gems as Castlegregory and Beaufort Golf Club.

Because of the number of courses and their popularity, the golf courses of the southwest can be a little more crowded and “tourist-y” than some of the lesser known regions, but the last few years of depressed travel have dulled the travel bug in many. If you book your golf vacations in the spring and early fall, you’ll get fabulous golf weather without the crowds.

These Ireland golf courses are historic gems, but far from outdated. They offer challenging holes set against some of the most memorable and impressive scenery in the world. The seaside courses often require tricky maneuvering and a steady, sure shot, whether you’re shooting with a driver or your camera.

Many of Ireland’s 300 golf courses are located in the island’s southwest region with fairways overlooking the ocean and links meandering along the shores of lakes. The discerning golfer can plan weeks worth of golf vacations that take in historic courses, modern golf courses, luxury resort golf clubs and the public club that opens its greens to the stray tourist looking for the best and most congenial golfing in all the world.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Top Arizona Golf Vacation Ideas

Arizona is fast becoming one of the most popular golf vacation destinations in the United States. With more than 300 sunny days a year and beautifully dry weather, the Phoenix area is home to dozens of golf courses. They range from public golf courses open to anyone to top-quality championship caliber golf courses located at exclusive luxury resorts. The huge variety of golf courses are part of what makes Arizona golf such an attractive place for golf trips. You’ll find both links and parks courses, as well as golf courses that provide exactly the level of challenge that suits your golf game the best.

One of the easiest ways to plan Arizona golf vacations is to leave the planning to a pro. Many professional travel agents specialize in booking golf trips and golf outings for individuals, families and groups. Because they deal with the golf courses, resorts and clubs every day, they have that little extra “in” that can score you special deals and perks that you couldn’t get if you were doing the booking yourself. Knowing a little about the top courses in Arizona can help you decide among the many golf travel packages offered.

Wigwam Golf and Country Club

One of the top-rated golf resorts in the Phoenix area, Wigwam Golf and Country Club is an Arizona landmark that has been in operation since the 1930s. You can golf on any one of 5 courses that provide the avid golfer with 54 championship holes and enjoy your time on 400 beautifully landscaped and manicured acres. If your party includes non-golfers, they can relax at the Elizabeth Arden Spa, swim in one of the four pools, participate in children’s programs and take advantage of the other amenities, including a 25-foot high water slide.

SunRidge Canyon

Located just outside Scottsdale, SunRidge Canyon Golf Club is exactly that – a golf club. Those who play Arizona golf regularly count it among the most overlooked excellent courses in the state, despite the fact that it’s rated among the top 100 public courses in the country. The course is as much a treat for the eyes as it is a feast for the golfer who enjoys a truly challenging course that is still playable for the average player. The landscaping makes incredible use of desert plants and rocks to create a stunning vista that enhances play. The course is famous for the Wicked Six – the challenging and devilish last six holes on the 18-hole course. Make nice with the pros and regulars at the clubhouse and they’ll happily share tips and tricks to hit those holes just right.

You’ll find dozens of other exceptional courses in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area – and if you want to head further afield, Tucson golf courses add even more variety to your golf vacation planning. Talk to a golf travel planner and get yourself hooked up with the best in golf vacations for this coming season.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Important Considerations for Planning Golf Travel

If you love golfing and travel, chances are that you’ve considered putting them together at some point. The popularity of golf travel suggests that you’re not the only one – golf trips are among the fastest growing categories of vacation packages booked through travel agencies. If you’re considering booking your golf travel through an agency that specializes in golf vacation packages, there are some important questions to ask. The right questions can help you work out the important details that will ensure a memorable and memorable golf travel experience.

Do You Specialize in Golf Travel?

Don’t just choose any travel agency that happens to offer a golf package. Many agencies have people specialized golf vacation planners who know the industry inside out. They’ve built relationships with hotels, golf resorts and golf clubs throughout the country, which gives them an inside track on information and some negotiating mojo to get you the best deals at the courses you want to play. There’s also a good chance that golf travel pros can give you tips based on personal experience because they’re just like you – if you could bop around the country and golf at great courses as part of your job.

What’s the Cancellation Policy?

Don’t just check the cancellation policy for your hotel and travel. If you’re heading for, say, Scotland, golf tee times may have been booked as much as a year in advance and secured with a hefty deposit. It’s important to know the cancellation policy for the courses where you (or your travel agent) have booked tee times so that you know how it will affect you financially.

Can You Add to the Itinerary on a Package?

Many golf travel agents offer a number of golf packages with itineraries that include a specific number of nights, rounds of golf, specific courses and meals. Most agents are more than willing to customize your golf travel package if you want to add an extra night or pick up another round of golf at a particular course. Whenever possible, work those details out with the travel agent in advance, and he can probably get you substantial savings over anything you can arrange for yourself once you arrive at your destination.

Can You Reserve Rental Clubs for Me?

Many golfers prefer to leave their clubs at home and save the $50+ each way that airlines can charge to transport them. Instead, they rent clubs at their destination. If that’s your choice, you may want to reserve your clubs in advance to ensure that they’re available when you’re ready to play. Most golf travel agents will know which courses accept reservations for clubs and any of them can find out for you if you ask.

Those are some of the most common questions that people don’t think of asking when they’re arranging golf trips. You may have other questions. The most important thing to remember is to ask those questions. Your golf travel pro will definitely have heard the question before and probably has the answer on the tip of his tongue.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Essential Tips for Planning Group Golf Vacations

Are you taking point on planning golf trips for your group this year? Group golf vacations are fast becoming as popular as the quintessential hunting trip with the guys – but the planning for golf vacations is a lot more involved and tricky than heading out into the woods for a weekend with the guys. These tips from golf travel pros can help you plan killer golf trips that everyone in your party will enjoy.

Research is Your Friend

The Internet age has made it easier than ever to get your hands on information about golf courses and clubs outside your local area. Put in the time to read up on the various golf destinations you’re interested in visiting. There are multiple sources from which you can learn, from the club or resort’s own website to the many guides to golf courses available online. And that’s not even counting what you can learn if you pick up the phone and ask questions. The more you know, the easier it will be to plan golf trips that everyone can enjoy.

Get the Timing of Your Golf Trips Right

Scheduling golf trips for yourself is complicated. Scheduling one that includes a foursome is can be a nightmare. The easiest way to coordinate travel, accommodations and tee times is to work with a golf package planner. Before you call the planner, though, you need to communicate with your travel companions to decide what kind of play you’re looking for, whether you want to stay at a resort with on-premises golf or prefer a hotel-and-golf package that lets you play out at many different area courses, and what your general budget is. Your budget can help determine the timing, too. If you schedule your golf vacations in the off-season, for example, you may get discounts that let you play higher caliber courses that would be unaffordable during the season.

Transportation and Directions

One of the most important parts of golf trips is getting there – and getting there in time to make your tee time, or your flight, or your dinner reservations. Getting lost may be an adventure when you’re on your own, but unless you’re with a group that enjoys serendipity as much as you do, you’re likely to end up with a disgruntled and out of sorts foursome who just missed the tee time they’ve been looking forward to for months. Your golf travel agent can arrange your flights and rental cars and all, but it’s up to you to make sure you know how to get where you have to be once you get off the plane. Don’t count on the Google for directions – far too often, you’ll run into a one-way street going the wrong way or an unexpected detour. Call your destination and get directions from the airport or the hotel to make sure you get where you’re going in time to enjoy yourself fully.

Golf vacations for groups can be memorable and a lot of fun. A little bit of planning can ensure that those memories will all be good ones.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Suggestions to Make Your Golf Travel More Fun

If you’re a golfer, golf travel is intrinsically fun. After all, what could be more fun for the typical golfer than the chance to play golf courses outside your ordinary experience? Thus the very idea of doing something to make your golf holiday more fun may seem a bit unimportant, but these tips to make your packing and travel easier and to help you find your way around some of the most popular golf trip venues in the world can reduce inconveniences and make your golf trip more fun.

Book Your Tee Times at the Same Time You Make Your Reservations – or Earlier

Whether you’re traveling for Scotland golf or heading to Arizona golf courses, the major courses will have tee times booked weeks and even months in advance. It’s nearly as hard to book a tee time at the Old Course at St. Andrews as it is to schedule a personal audience with the Queen. In fact, if you’re hoping to tee off at any world-famous championship course you’re better off booking your flight and hotel reservations after you’ve got your tee times scheduled.

Check With the Airlines About Carrying Your Clubs With You

Every airline has its own rules about golf clubs and equipment as baggage. Some require a hard-shell case. Others will accept a soft-shell golf case but it must have a specific type of tag. The last thing you want is to have your golf clubs left behind at the gate, so check with the airline well before flight time and make sure you comply with their requirements to the letter.

Pack Extra Golf Balls if You’re Heading Overseas

In places like Scotland and Ireland, golf balls can be a bit pricey, so if you have room to pack one extra thing, make it a sleeve of golf balls.

Let a Professional Travel Agent Set Up Your Golf Vacation

Unless you know the area you’re going to visit well, let a travel agent who specializes in golf travel set up your tee times and choose golf courses for you to play. In areas that are well-known for golf, such as Myrtle Beach, there may be dozens of golf courses where you can conceivably tee off. Many golfers never get beyond some of the bigger names because they have the advertising budgets to court the golf critics. That also means that there are dozens of undiscovered gems that might offer exactly the kind of golf experience you enjoy.

If there’s golf travel in your future, take the time to plan ahead and call in help from a pro to help you pick out the best places to show off your best golf profile. You’ll have more fun, honest!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Three Must-Play Courses for Arizona Golf vacations

Arizona has come into its own as a destination for golf vacations. Its ratio of sunny days and comfortable temperatures make it a natural for outdoor sports, and the growing number of world-class golf courses attract some of the best and most famous golfers in the world. You don’t have to be famous to enjoy golf vacations in Arizona, though. You can plan out an ideal swing through Arizona golf country on your own, or with the help of a travel agent who specializes in golf travel. Either way, make sure that your golf itinerary includes at least a couple of these must-play golf courses in Tucson and Phoenix.

Southern Dunes Golf Club, Maricopa

Located about 25 miles outside of Phoenix, the Southern Dunes Golf Club started life as a private mens’ club, but opened to public play in 2009. Since then, it has made the list of best public courses to play in Arizona, and had the singular honor of having its 16th hole nominated and inducted to the Golf Hole Hall of Fame in 2011. Designed by Brian Curley and Lee Schmidt with an assist from golf great Fred Couples, Southern Dunes features an absolutely magnificent landscape and challenging play for golfers of all levels.

ASU Karsten Golf Course

One of the things that makes Arizona golf so special is its youth orientation. Nowhere is that more evident than on the campus of ASU-Karsten, home to one of the strongest collegiate golf programs in the world. In September 2011, Golfweek magazine listed ASU Karsten’s Pete Dye course among the top 30 collegiate golf courses in the U.S. The course is open to the public, and offers special rates for seniors and for Arizona residents, as well as fabulous specials available to anyone who books a tee time at the right time.

Quintero Golf and Country Club

Located just about 25 miles outside of downtown Phoenix, Quintero is one of Arizona’s best-kept secrets. The private members club is now open to all golfers, though you’ll have to call ahead and check availability. Members of the Arizona Golf Association can enjoy the Rees Jones course at a guest rate. For those indulging in golf vacations, the club also accepts guest play when it has tee times available. You can become a “Member for a Day” with a little advance notice, but ifArizona golf vacations are a regular thing for you, you may end up deciding to join the club through one of its innovative membership options.