Let the good times and dimpled balls roll for golf travel enthusiasts in 2018. With an American economy revving up with 3 % growth accompanied by meteoric stock market numbers, more people will have a few extra bucks to spend on luxury pursuits like golf vacations in the coming year. Here are ten golf travel trends the Golf Travel Guru highlights for 2018:
1. Extended Golf Travel Vacations Referred to as “sojourns” for the baby-boomer generation, these involve two or three month stays in golf rich areas. Typically, these golf travelers rent vacation apartments short-term or utilize services such as Airbnb. Popular locations include Portugal, Spain, Italy, France and Ireland. These longer vacations aren’t just for retired boomers, either. Many boomers work as consultants or freelancers and all they need is a reliable wi-fi connection and they can travel and play golf for weeks at a time.
2. Over-The-Top Greens Fees at Iconic Golf Courses You’re going to need the few extra dollars from the robust economy because more and more of the world’s most famous courses are charging past $400 for a round of golf during their high season. If you want to play golf’s high-profile layouts, be prepared to shell out some serious coin. Some of the priciest include Pebble Beach Golf Links ($525), TPC Sawgrass–PLAYERS Stadium Course ($495) and Pinehurst No. 2 ($420).
3. Merging Fitness and Golf In addition to great golf, many golf vacationers want top notch wellness facilities at their resort or hotel. Especially attractive to linksters are spas with numerous treatments and services, well-equipped fitness centers, walking and jogging trails, nature paths, yoga and exercise classes. From losing weight and getting in shape to improving mental health, the goal is to improve your life beyond the fairways. 4. Making Safety and Security a Priority Savvy travelers are increasingly more cognizant of political turmoil, terrorism, inclement weather patterns and they want to play golf at destinations that are safe and secure. Travel agents and golf tour operators are paying closer attention to political happenings, hurricane seasons and other troubling weather situations in planning vacations.
5. Exciting New Courses to Play
Several impressive golf courses debuted in 2017. For those seeking new golfing frontiers, the menu is enticing. Heading the list are: Hogs Head Golf Club in Waterville, Ireland, Streamsong Black in Bowling Green, Florida, Sand Valley Golf Resort in Rome Wisconsin, Norman Signature Course in Nayarit, Mexico, Panorama Golf Resort near Praque, Czech Republic and Danzante Bay Golf Club in Mexico. 6. Viva Italia Italy, the sumptuous oasis of great wine, pasta and gelato, has increased its tee time bookings by 40% in the past three years. The momentum is expected to continue as Italy will host the Ryder Cup for the first time in 2022. Italy has 142 18-hole golf courses and several exceptional golf resorts. The Guru’s favorite destination, the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region in the northeast corner of the country, has a good menu of courses like Golf Club Trieste, Golf Club Udine, Golf Club Lignano, Golf Club Grado, Golf & Country Club Castello Di Spessa, Golf Club Castel D’Aviano and Golf Club Tarviso. Other great choices throughout Italy include Terme di Saturnia Spa & Golf Resort in Manciano, Argentario Golf Resort & Spa in Monte Argentario and Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa in Ragusa, Sicily. It doesn’t get any better than a chilled glass of pinot grigio after a round of golf.
7. Emerging Destinations For those seeking new golf travel frontiers, countries increasingly bullish on golf as a lure for tourists include South Africa, New Zealand, Bulgaria, Korea, Vietnam, Mauritius, St. Kitts/Nevis and Malaysia. 8. Shipping Your Sticks An increasing number of golf travelers are opting to ship their golf clubs. Who can blame them? Long baggage security check-in lines, lugging a heavy bag around the airport and searching in vain for the oversized bag drop-off are just some of the reasons traveling with your clubs is a major pain in the posterior. Oh yeah, the airlines could lose your clubs and you’re really screwed. It’s really not surprising that shipping golf clubs is increasing in popularity. Top companies include Shipsticks.com, Luggageforward.com and Golfbagshipping.com 9. Ryder Cup 2018 The Ryder Cup has evolved into one of the sporting world’s (not just golf’s) biggest events. Ryder Cup 2018 will put the spotlight on golf in France and attract golf travelers from around the world. The matches will be staged September 28-30 at the Albatross Course of Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, a suburb of southwest Paris. For those who want to attend, your best bet is to go through an authorized golf travel tour operator. There are a variety of options, including Ryder Cup cruises and various pre- and post-trips to popular French regions like Bordeaux, Normandy and Brittany. 10. Food and Wine Lovers Golfers love great food and fine wines. Hey, just about everybody is a foodie and wine lover these days. Destinations with superb, interesting cuisine and great wines are becoming even more attractive to golfers who want to enhance their vacation experience. Some of my favorite wine/golf destinations include South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Italy, France and Napa Valley in California. For dining, the Guru particularly likes Australia, which has awesome outdoor (al fresco) dining options and Italy, with its fantastic family-owned trattorias and wine estates.