No stranger to planning a golf trip to Scotland and Ireland, Matt Adams, host of the "Fairways of Life" program on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, offers his tips for planning a memorable golf vacation.
Planning the perfect golf trip is as much about approach and philosophy as it is intent.
Everyone wants to put together the greatest trip ever, but having a game plan is your best bet of success.
Here are my Top 10 points to get you started:
1. Know where to go
Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia are just some of the most popular (or growing in popularity) regions that golfers are visiting. In the United States, regions such as Florida, Myrtle Beach and Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Trail or destinations such as Pinehurst Resort, Sea Island, Pebble Beach or Bandon Dunes represent some of the most popular bucket-list targets.
The key is to ensure that your destination of choice matches with your desires, resources and traveling companions. For example, many premier locations require golfers to walk the course. Is this something you or members of your group can do for multiple days in a row?
2. Seek and ye shall find
Research, research and, then, research some more. GolfAdvisor.com is an excellent place to start. Utilize the internet as well as seek out those that have visited your targeted destination. Visit the Web site(s) of the courses you would like to visit. If you are planning the trip without assistance, contact the courses you wish to play and ask them for their recommendations for where to stay, eat, etc.
3. Who's the boss?
Planning by committee does not work. If you are in charge, be in charge. Solicit input, but the buck has to stop somewhere or it can become maddening. If you have some strong-willed individuals who feel compelled to make their voices heard, then agree in advance that they can plan the next trip.
4. Hand pick your compatriots
Trips do not have to be huge to be great fun. Ensuring that everyone has the same goals and expectations is more important than trying to maximize the size of your traveling band -- best is to start slowly and hand pick your fellow golfing tourists. One consideration is to attempt to balance those who are serious competitors and those that enjoy a more social round of golf.
5. Don't fear the fear
Fear of the unknown is the no. 1 reason why golfers put off their dream trips. There are so many ways to overcome this! Consider that it takes me less time to fly from Boston to Shannon, Ireland, than to fly across the United States.
Whether you decide to use a tour company (that charges a fee to arrange the logistics) or you decide to partner with a marketing association (usually a consortium of courses, that do not charge additional fees for planning) such as www.SwingGolfIreland.com or www.NorthandWestCoastLinks.com. There are plenty of resources available to remove the fear associated with planning a trip to someplace you have never been before.
6. Go first class whenever possible
I don't mean airlines tickets (although that would be nice!), but I am referring to how you plan your resources. In general, most first timers plan themselves too thin so the cliche applies, "You get what you pay for." One small tip in this area is to plan on individual rooms instead of double occupancy.
Doubling up in rooms is standard procedure for many groups, but you will be amazed at how much better you will sleep if you are not kept awake by the grizzly snoring next to you. If this means you cut your trip a day or two short to make up for the average 20 percent up-charge on individual rooms, it is well worth the impact it will have on your overall experience.
7. Do not over-schedule
Related to the above, over-scheduling is the top way to mess up a well intended effort. For example, many trip planners will look at a map of Ireland and assume that they can get from one region to another (for example, from Lahinch to Royal Portrush) to play in consecutive days.
While roadways in Ireland and Northern Ireland have improved immensely, you cannot assume that the time it takes to drive the same distance where you live is the same when on the road. This also applies to how many rounds you play during your trip. Consider the age and fitness level of all of those with you. Over scheduling looks good on paper but can have major negative consequences. Small steps lead to big gains.
8. Never say 'once in a lifetime'
This is the most overused travel cliche of all time! Aspire to make your journey the "trip of a lifetime," but don't limit yourself to a one-and-done mentality. A philosophy that "this is just the beginning" also helps you to not feel like you need to fit everything into one trip.
9. Plan for what cannot be planned
Stuff happens; a little over-indulgence over here, a stiff back over there, you get the picture. I like to budget a day in every trip that I call a "cultural day." I plan around someplace cool (for example, in Ireland I love to hang out in Kinsale) where you can bask in the local culture and respite. It's amazing how often these days become the highlight of the entire trip!
10. Breathe and delegate
Remember, this is about having fun. Breathe deep and embrace the moment. Once the big picture is in place, delegate out things like the planning of daily competitions, pairings, etc. Don't feel compelled to over-plan every minute, meals or social agendas. Let people explore and find their own paths.
As long as they know where they have to be and when, then let life take its course. Letting life come to you is usually the most fun part of a trip of a lifetime!