|Golf Casintino in Italy|
Golfers love to travel. In fact, more golfers took a domestic trip in 2014 than skiers, tennis players and sailors combined.
To get you ready for 2015, here are 10 trends to assist you in golf travel planning:
1. Emerging Destinations—For those who’ve already played Ireland and Scotland, European destinations like Italy and France are aggressively promoting golf vacations. Trying to entice golfers who are also foodies, Italian and French golf tour operators tout their exceptional cuisine and wine, which visiting golfers can enjoy once the last putt falls for the day. Many new golf courses are popping up in Thailand, China, Korea and Vietnam and they’re also vying strongly for golf vacationers. Australia and New Zealand are popular new frontiers, as well.
2. Bucket-List Courses—As Baby Boomers retire in greater numbers they have more time to pursue courses on their Bucket Lists. At the top of most lists is The Old Course in St. Andrews, Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pinehurst No. 2, Royal Dornoch (Scotland), Royal County Down (Ireland) and Royal Melbourne (Australia).
3. Going Mobile—An increasing number of online travel bookings will be done with mobile devices. According to the World Travel Market Global Trends Report, nearly 35% of bookings will be mobile oriented by 2018. Look for the Apple Watch and other smartwatches to make a big impact when it goes on sale in 2015. A few airlines, travel companies and hotels have already released smartwatch apps that allow users to book flights, download boarding passes, search for the best holiday deals and act as room keys.
4. History with Modern Amenities—Golf vacationers want to experience history, but not in a musty and dusty environment. Discerning luxury golf travelers want all the modern day techno amenity candy like high-speed Internet service, Ipod docking stations and flat panel televisions as well as spas, fitness centers and luxury linens. Historical hotels such The Breakers in Palm Beach, Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina and The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, The American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin and Williamsburg Inn in Virginia have refurbished and upgraded their properties to appeal to the luxury amenity sensitivities of their guests.
5. Food and Wine Appreciation—Everybody is a “Foodie”. Lots of golfers watch the Food Network as much as they do the Golf Channel. Off-the-course, golfers are increasingly seeking innovative, chef inspired delicacies, farm-to-table restaurants, healthy and gluten free choices, craft beers and fine wines. Wine goes well with golf, too. Some of the most desirable wine regions with great golf include Cape Town, South Africa, the Bordeaux in southwest France, Napa Valley, California and Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand.
6. Couples Trips—The buddy trip is still popular, but as more couples retire, they’ll travel more and increasingly play more golf together. To enhance the golf travel experience, activities like winery tours and cooking classes will be incorporated in itineraries.
7. Alternative Golf Experiences at Resorts—In an effort to attract more Millennials to golf, a growing number of resorts are offering Footgolf. What is it? In Footgolf, the hole on the green is expanded to 21 inches to accommodate a soccer ball, players tally up their score like golf and it only takes about two hours to complete a round. Resorts offering Footgolf include Crystal Springs Resort in Sussex County, New Jersey, French Lick Resort in French Lick, Indiana, TreeTops Resort in Gaylord, Michigan and the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa’s Port Royal Golf club.
8. Electronic Golf Hangouts—The latest rage for those who like to swing the sticks away from the golf course is Topgolf, a golf entertainment complex. In a plush sports bar style environment, players hit a golf ball containing a personalized microchip into a series of targets ranging from 20 to 240 yards away. Topgolf has locations in Scottsdale, Arizona, Atlanta, Georgia, Chicago, Illinois, Dallas, Austin and Houston in Texas and Alexandria, Virginia.
9. Putting Courses at Resorts—To entertain golfers in-between rounds and give non-golfers an entertaining amenity to participate in the game, resorts are offering 18-hole putting courses laid out like mini golf layouts. Topping the menu of options are the Punchbowl, a 100,000 square-foot putting courses at Bandon Dunes in Oregon designed by Tom Doak; the Thistle Dhu Putting Course at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina; Dunes Putting Course at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin, Fla.; the Sawtooths Putting Course at Sun Valley Resort in Sun Valley, Idaho; the 30,000 square foot Seaside Putting Course at Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island in Hawaii; and the 350-yard long putting course at Salishan Spa & Golf Resort in Gleneden Beach, Oregon.
10. House Exchange–With easy access to several major Internet sites, more golf travelers will consider house swapping. Retired Baby Boomers can exchange a stay at their primary or vacation home for an abode in a golf rich area. Just bring your clubs, golf clothes and a tootbrush and, voila, you’ve got a great place to reside temporarily while someone else is staying and watching your house during your extended stay away from home.