Wednesday, January 13, 2016

9 Great Golf Travel Tips for 2016

Royal County Down in Ireland

Jordan Spieth certainly got off to a great start in 2016 with his victory in Hawaii. I'm hoping some of the tips below will help make your golf travel excursions real winners in 2016

1. Play Royal County Down--Recently voted #1 in Golf Digest's World 100 Greatest Golf Courses, this Irish gem is world class on so many levels. It's Ireland's answer to the Old Course at St. Andrews and Pine Valley and Pebble Beach. Opened in 1889, Royal County Down is set on natural dune-land at the foothills of the mountains of Mourne in Newcastle, about 30 miles north of Belfast. Stretching out before you like a Monet painting come to life, this course is colorfully accented with purple heath and yellow gorse. Roller coaster like fairways, blind drives, bunkers framed by shaggy fescue grasses and smallish greens dominate the golf experience at Royal County Down.

2. Great Canadian Value--If you want great value, head north, my friends. The U.S. dollar is predicted to stay strong against the Canadian Dollar in 2016. Now is an excellent money-saving time to play heralded locales like the Canadian Rockies (Banff and Jasper) and Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs in Nova Scotia.

3. Hot Destinations--South Africa and New Zealand: For those seeking new golf horizons, these two destinations offer great golf and a wealth of off-the-course activities. In South Africa, the experience encompasses stunningly scenic courses, winery tours and safaris where you can see the Big 5 (elephant, leopard, buffalo, lion and rhino) all in one day. New Zealand offers golf courses with Jack Nicklaus, Tom Doak and Robert Trent Jones Jr. designer tags, uncrowded golf courses, exceptional cuisine and fine wines and an awe inspiring landscape of rugged mountains, lush forests and spectacular beaches.

4. New Golf Courses to Play--Tired of the same ol' courses. Here's a list of courses that have recently opened or are set to open in 2016. Trilogy (Ocala, Florida), Blackjack National (Houston, Texas), Oakhurst at Greenbrier (Sulphur Springs, West Virginia), Forest Dunes (Northern Michigan), Canyons Golf Club (Park City, Utah) and Links at Brunello (Halifax, Canada).

5. Ryder Cup 2016 Fever--Young guns like Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed will try to bring the cup back to the U.S. The 2016 Ryder Cup matches will be staged at Hazeltine National Golf Club near Minneapolis, Minnesota in September. Minneapolis is easily accessible thanks to an excellent airport and the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are loaded with a variety of restaurants, shopping options and recreation opportunities.

6. Mobile Passport App--Is there anything worse than returning from a fabulous international golf trip only to be welcomed by long, slow moving lines at customs in the U.S. The Mobile Passport App is the ultimate time saver. It allows U.S. Citizens to expedite the entry process back in the U.S. by avoiding the line at Custom and Border Protection (CBP) and going directly to the "Mobile Passport Control" express lane. Airports where the service is available include Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, San Francisco and Seattle-Tacoma.

7. Burn Your Miles--This is a great year to start spending all those miles you've piled up. Several experts are predicting airlines will move to devalue points even more this year.

8. Change in Tee Time Policy at The Old Course--Late last year, the St. Andrews Links Trust announced that beginning in 2018, the guaranteed tee times previously given to The Old Course Experience will be distributed to several different golf tour operators. This is could be great news for those planning to play the Old Course in the future because several golf travel experts predict lower prices for guaranteed tee times.

9. Destinations for Non-Golfer Spouses--For those who want to avoid leaving their spouses alone in a hotel room with a remote and a big screen, there are numerous golf destinations where non-golfers can enjoy themselves. Gaming destinations such as Biloxi, Atlantic City and Las Vegas have a wealth of entertainment offerings. The Monterey Peninsula has the charming village of Carmel-By-the-Sea and the 17-Mile Drive. Hilton Head Island is brimming with excellent restaurants, bicycle trails, walkable beaches and shopping areas. San Diego has great shopping, beach and boating activities and superb restaurants. Orlando has theme parks, outlet shopping and walkable villages like Winter Park and Mount Dora. Branson has live entertainment shows, a vibrant downtown area and outlet shopping.