A golf trip should be fun and relaxing for everyone involved. You should only feel stress when your partner is counting on you for a two foot putt. A good trip only happens because some detailed planning has been done ahead of time.
There are a number of elements which comprise a good trip. Some may seem obvious but attention to every detail will pay a big bonus at the end. How many players are going on the trip? Because golf is best played in foursomes, four or multiples of four should be recommended. Eight is a good number and twelve will also work. More than that can be problematic unless you are planning a major event which is different from this excursion. More than twelve (3 tee times) can present problems booking tee times. More than twelve turns dinner into more than one table which tends to break up the group. Also more than twelve can sometimes be difficult when booking accommodation.
Having settled on a number, the next question is – Who are they? Golf handicaps will level the competitive playing but everyone should be comfortable with the amount and type of golf which is being planned. Also you want to be sure your fellow travelers will enjoy each others company for an extended period of time, not just the four hours it takes to play a round of golf.
The next major issue is where to go and how long should the trip be. Ideally you should be able to drive to your destination in less than one day and the trip can then be anywhere from two days to one week. If the trip is up to four days, you probably will want to play every day. If it is longer you may want to take a day off. This should be decided and agreed upon before hand.
You must then decide if you want to play all your golf at one course or does your destination give you the opportunity to play a number of different courses. The advantage of one course is that accommodation may be available on site which minimizes travel, whereas playing different courses obviously gives you variety.
The quality of accommodation will be somewhat determined by the overall budget your trip desires, but a few basics should be constant. It should be reasonably close to good restaurants, both for dinners and breakfasts. If it is an isolated resort, there should be other activities available. Ideally you want a common room or lounge where your group can meet after golf to brag, complain, and determine the evening’s plans. Determining roommates if that is relevant should be done before departure. You don’t want surprises here and everybody has specific needs or desires.
Although golf is obviously the main reason for this trip, it will only occupy about five hours of each day. The group should be encouraged to eat the evening meal together. But that still leaves a few hours available each day. It can be a difficult balancing act between organizing events, making your group aware of activities which are available and leaving everyone on their own. You want to do your job but you don’t want to be accused of overly micromanaging. It is important to know your group.
Finances must always be planned. First the group must determine what I call the order of magnitude. Green fees can range from about $40.00 to $200.00. Accommodation can probably cost between about $30.00 and $100.00 per person per night. Once the range is established costs per person can be established.
Green Fees x Number of rounds
Accommodation x Number of nights
To that I would add an amount to cover appetizers or snacks for the common room. If the group is planning to have any competitions such as low net, low gross, teams, overall winners, etc. those prizes or payouts should be factored in. Items such as meal choices or liquid refreshments should be left to each individual. If golf carts are compulsory they should be included, if not they should be up to each member of the group. Once the total cost is determined, each member should pay in advance. This enables the bookings to be made and makes the commitment to go firm.
We are assuming that this is a self administered trip, not one organized by a travel agent. As such various areas of responsibilities should be assigned to members of the group.
- Tournament Director – this person should lead the discussion in determining the courses to be played and then book the tee times. The availability of carts, range, practice facility, Pro shop or anything else pertaining to the course should be the responsibility of the tournament director. The nature of the competition, partners, pairings, payouts and any particular rules for the group, i.e. winter rules, gimme putts, maximum double bogeys, etc. should be decided ahead and regulated by the tournament director.
- Treasurer – the treasurer should receive all monies paid by each participant should be responsible for paying out everything determined by the group i.e. green fees, hotels, winnings or common room expenses.
- Social Convener – this person is responsible for stocking the common room, organizing a selection of possible restaurants and arranging any other non golf activities which the group may desire.
- Transportation Director – this position is dependent on where the group is going and what has been determined as the means of getting there. If personal vehicles are being used, pairings should be arranged and each passenger should make suitable arrangements with the owner. If a vehicle is being rented the transportation director should make the arrangements. And the cost should be part of the overall group cost.
If the trip is longer or specifically if air travel is needed to reach the chosen destination, it is advantageous to use a travel agent to advise and make the relevant bookings. This person may then perform many of the functions listed above and as such becomes an important tool of the group. Nevertheless the planning should still all be done by the group before hand.
As stated at the beginning, a golf trip should be fun and relaxing for everyone involved. A good plan well executed with a minimum of surprises should achieve the desired result.