One question I often get from people who don’t know a golf club from a baseball bat is: Why do you travel around the world to play golf when you have several perfectly fine golf courses within 5 minutes of your house? I don’t want to go all philosophical on you, but the reason for travel by golfers can be summed up in this simple phrase: “Be fearless in pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” In my three decades of spanning the globe to play golf, I’ve identified five types of golf travelers:
1. The Vacationer
Most likely the golfer is married to a non-golfer, who prefers a stone massage at the spa rather than roaming the fairways. The couple plans the golf trip with the distinct theme of compromise in the air. Golfer searches for a resort with a highly ranked spa and great golf (or some super tracks nearby) and they enjoy the best of both worlds. It has been my experience (with Mrs. Guru) that the non-golfer’s needs come first and the golfer is seemingly happy as long as the fairways are wide, the greens are true and the beer is ice cold at the 19th hole.
2. Trophy Hunter
These are the individuals who more than likely have a large map in their office dotted with tiny flags denoting the Top 100 courses they’ve played around the world. It’s an admirable goal for the golf fanatic and I’ve known more than a few golfers who pursue playing the most highly ranked courses. When they travel, the goal is to plant flags on their map when they return. From the Old Course at St. Andrews to Royal County Down in Ireland to Pebble Beach Golf Links in California, the trophy hunter wants to play them all during his golf travel career.
3. Buddy Tripper
Typically a group of men who generally want to play golf (up to 36 holes a day), drink beer and single malt scotch at the 19th hole, enjoy a steak, lobster or pasta dinner and repeat that day several times. Scotland and Ireland are great buddy trip destinations because the courses are often close to each other and there’s an abundance of 19th holes, whiskey distilleries for tours and pubs where the pints flow freely. In the U.S., top buddy trip destinations include Bandon Dunes in Oregon, Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, Robert Trent Jones Trail in Alabama, and Hilton Head Island and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
4. Adventure Traveler
I’m seeing more of this type of golf traveler in recent years. In addition to playing great golf courses, they want to incorporate exciting off-the-course activities in their itinerary such as wine tours and tastings, safaris, river rafting, hot air ballooning and bicycling. This traveler often gets just as excited in finding a great Cab or Chardonnay as they do in slamming in a 20 foot birdie putt. Some destinations vying for the adventure traveler include South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.
5. Event Traveler
This ultimate multi-tasker likes to attend major golf events and tee it up in the area. They’ll select events like the Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, Solheim Cup, Open Championship, The Masters and PGA Tour and European Tour tournaments, then arrange to attend for a few days and play golf at nearby notable courses.