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  • Writer's picturePaul Hiller

GIMME Golf Travel’s Comprehensive US Golf Trip Planning Guide

Updated: Apr 5

GIMME Golf Travel created this comprehensive golf trip planning guide to ensure your next golf trip is as smooth as Steve Stricker’s buttery putting stroke. Or, just skip to the end and let GIMME Golf Travel do the work for you. ⛳️🏌🏼‍♂️



GOLF TRIP PLANNING GUIDE CONTENTS

When you’re starting to plan a golf trip, considerations like when, where, and with whom are critical details to nail down. But the finer details—where to stay, where to eat, and entertainment after your round—take a golf trip from good to great. 


Starting to Plan Your Golf Trip

Take a moment to consider three factors:


  • Time of year - The time of year will dictate where you want to go.

  • Number of travelers - The number of travelers will impact accommodations and tee times.

  • Rough budget per person - The budget per person will help narrow down your best options for the best overall experience.


With these details, you can start getting into the weeds of your trip.


Defining the Purpose

Defining the purpose of the trip is important. Is it strictly about golf or is this for an event, like a bachelor party or birthday? Other things to consider: are skill level, interest in playing 36 holes, and what people like to do for fun. By defining the purpose of the trip we can narrow down your list of ideal travel locations.


Timeline

The timeline is a critical piece of planning to secure tee times, accommodations, and travel. If you want a resort with championship-level courses, you likely have to book six months to a year in advance. Fewer rounds on courses with lower demand can be booked with less time. And even if this is an impulsive, last-minute trip, we got you!


You also want to consider the time of year when you are playing.

 

Click to expand the list of best times to golf in the United States: 

Best Golf Month by State

Best Golf Season by State

Best Golf Season by US Region

 

Pro tip: Use a service like Doodle to poll potential trip participants.


Who to Invite

Available dates, sleeping arrangements, and tee times are just a few of the considerations to lock down. It’s best to start early. Getting everyone on the same page about travel can feel like managing Tiger’s gallery on 18 at the Tour Championship.



Budget

Determining the budget for the trip will narrow down where you can stay and play. Make sure you consider greens fees, accommodations, food, travel, and entertainment. Discounts can be secured based on the time of year and demand. Playing in Arizona in February is more expensive than the summer heat.


Pro tip: Don’t go to Arizona in the summer heat.


Golf Courses

GIMME Golf Travel knows that the heart and soul of any golf trip are the courses (okay… the company of friends might matter). From legendary holes where the pros have dominated to hidden gems boasting jaw-dropping scenery, whether you seek the challenge of championship-level courses or budget-friendly options, it’s all about the courses. Considerations like resort properties, city vibes, regional nuances, and the perfect time of year to play should factor into your destination. Let's look at a few of the golf course factors to consider.


Type of Courses

Links, Seaside, Parkland, and Resort courses all feature different architectural features that make for different playing conditions.


Types of Golf Courses
Types of Golf Courses
  • Links: Traditionally a challenging and coastal course featuring natural terrain, dunes, and winds, providing a true test of golfing skills. 

  • Parkland: Surrounded by lush greenery and trees, this course provides a serene and picturesque setting, emphasizing precision and strategy amidst peaceful surroundings.

  • Resort: A golf course designed for leisure and luxury, often part of a resort complex, offering a blend of scenic landscapes, top-notch amenities, and an enjoyable golfing experience for both novices and seasoned players.

  • Seaside: Nestled along the shoreline, this course offers stunning ocean views and a mix of challenges, combining the beauty of the sea with an engaging golfing experience.


Number of Golf Courses

The number of golf courses available varies depending on your destination. If you are planning a trip to a hotbed of courses like Pinehurst, North Carolina, don’t limit yourself to the Pinehurst network. There are gems like Pine Needles, Mid Pines, Tobacco Road, and more. On the other hand, unless it’s a solo trek to see to see Erin Hills in Wisconsin, you will likely want to pair it with another course like the Whistling Straits in Sheboygan or Sand Valley in Nekoosa. 


Course Playability

Courses cater to various skill levels, from high-handicap-friendly layouts to challenging championship courses played by the Pros. It's important to consider the skill level of your group to ensure an enjoyable experience. Hacking it around Pinehurst #2 for $450 is an experience not all players want. Whereas even a weekend hacker can appreciate a $600 round at Pebble Beach because of the rich history and once-in-a-lifetime views. Tobacco Road in North Carolina and True Blue in South Carolina are too “tricked-out” for some.


Caddies, Carts, or Walk-Only

Some courses are walking or carts only. Request a caddie in advance. For golfers who need a cart to get around, familiarize yourself with the course walking and cart rules beforehand.

Erin Hills is over 8 miles of hilly, walking-only golf.




Tee Time Availability

Booking tee times in advance is crucial, especially for popular or renowned courses. Most courses have limitations on tee times if you’re not staying onsite. If you want to play Pebble Beach, it’s almost impossible to play unless you stay on-property which carries a minimum night stay with premium rates. If you stay off-property, you can still play it, but it’s a roll of the dice.


Pro tip: Contact GIMME Golf Travel to find out how.


Other Course Considerations 

There are several other elements to consider before planning your trip that can round out your experience.


Course History

Many public golf course travel opportunities boast rich histories and have hosted major championships. Famous courses like Pebble Beach or Pinehurst carry a unique appeal for golf enthusiasts. Whereas Bandon Dunes is also a can’t-miss bucket list adventure with no major championship history.


Trophy at Pebble Beach
Trophy at Pebble Beach

 

Traveling for Golf

Arranging travel with friends can feel like blading a 3-iron in winter—painful—but it doesn't have to. Flying adds extra logistics, like transporting golf clubs and renting a car. A road trip offers flexibility and last-minute itinerary changes, with impromptu detours to entertainment options.


Traveling with Golf Clubs

If your goal on a family vacation is to get away from the kids for a few hours, you have permission to rent clubs. But if you are traveling for golf, DO NOT RENT CLUBS. Bring your babies. Renting clubs will cost $50 or more and you will regret the decision.


Flying with Golf Clubs

If you're flying to your destination, a golf travel bag is a must. You can choose a hard travel case or a soft travel case. Learn more about the benefits of hard and soft golf travel cases here. Some airlines charge bag fees for traveling with golf clubs, so check these details beforehand. Most of the time you’re signing a waiver before you fly for lost or damaged golf equipment, so you're often out of luck if something happens.



Driving with Golf Clubs

For those who are driving, the opportunity to explore nearby courses or attractions can be appealing. Available space in your vehicle will disappear quickly with golf bags, golf travel cases, suitcases, and all of the other trip accoutrement, so be mindful of what everyone is packing and what type of travel case they're bringing.


From Airport to Accommodations

Arranging transportation from the airport to your accommodations is crucial for a smooth start. Airport shuttles and private transfers can make things easy, depending on your group size and preferences. Travel cases and luggage are the primary consideration from the airport to accommodations. Shipping your clubs directly to the course with a company like Ship Sticks eliminates any concerns about space.


From Accommodations to Golf and Entertainment

Planning transportation between your accommodations and the golf courses, as well as any additional entertainment spots, ensures seamless travel during your trip. Some hotels or resorts offer shuttle services to nearby courses or attractions.


How to Pack

Pack strategically to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. In addition to what you would pack for any other trip, consider extra golf shirts, and potentially essential items like Gold Bond for those sensitive areas, Nu Skin for blisters, and Band-Aids for boo-boos (you big baby). We know it can get rough out there. If you’re going to a warm weather destination, think about sunscreen, a hat, and a water bottle to stay hydrated on the course. Be sure to bring a golf umbrella to ward off the weather gods, and leave extra space in your bags for trip swag.



Pro Tip: Use this GIMME Golf Travel Packing List by clicking the link, choosing 1. File and then 2. Make a Copy.

 

Accommodations for Golf Trips

Accommodations play a pivotal role in shaping the trip. The choice between immersing yourself in golf 24/7 by staying on property or staying off property with flexibility can set the tone of the trip. Ultimately, the right accommodation for your group should complement the experience you want to create.


Staying On Property

Staying onsite at a golf resort within proximity to the course can offer unique convenience and immediate access to golf facilities. Some properties offer shuttle service, amenities like club storage and lockers, and access to the best tee times if you stay onsite.


Staying Off Property 

Offsite accommodations including hotels, vacation rentals, or Airbnb offer a broader range of options. While not directly on the golf course, they might provide cost savings, better location for your group, or convenient access to other nearby attractions and dining options.


Hotels near golf courses often cater specifically to golfers, providing packages and services tailored to golf enthusiasts. On the other hand, renting an Airbnb, VRBO, or a similar service can be a great option for groups seeking more space and a comfortable stay. The downsides are unknown local rules and more responsibility to the host. 




Considering the proximity to golf courses, transportation, and the overall vibe you seek will play a crucial role in determining where to stay.


 

Entertainment and Golf Travel

While the heart of the trip might be on the course, it's the off-the-course entertainment that takes it from a “trip” to an “experience.” From local restaurants to nearby attractions, every trip offers an opportunity to create great memories.


Short Courses

Short courses offer a golfing experience in a condensed form, blending challenge and enjoyment for players of all ability levels. Short courses are often only 9 holes with each hole ranging from 70 - 160 yards, making it approachable and fun for everyone. 


Putting Courses

Putting courses offer a blend of fun and skill, featuring a large intricate green with steep slopes or subtle breaks. Putting courses are 9 - 18 holes and greenskeepers change where holes are cut and move tee markers around regularly to create new challenges. Often these are lit at night and serve drinks for groups to play after dark.





Entertainment Off the Course

Considering a mix of golf-centered and off-course entertainment ensures a well-rounded experience for all members of your group.


Restaurants 

Exploring local restaurants is an integral part of any golf trip. Find restaurants to get a flavor of the area, or Michelin Star Restaurants you can’t find in any other place.  



Events

Events are another great way to turn a golf trip into an experience. Flying to see your local team in another city, playing a collegiate course and experiencing the atmosphere of gameday, or seeing a comedian live are among the endless event opportunities.


Local Experiences

Besides restaurants, consider other activities to add variety to your trip. Outdoor activities like hiking trails, the pool, or beaches. Group activities like beer and wine tastings, spa days, or even a day trip to nearby historical sites can round out the trip. Remember the Alamo? (No one does.)


Whether it's traveling to see your favorite NFL team, a serene day at the spa, or a hike in the mountains, blending golf with off-course entertainment creates a well-balanced experience. 


Pro Tip: Check out the local Convention and Visitors Bureau for information about festivals, concerts, and other events happening during your stay. 

 

Final Golf Trip Considerations


A golf trip should be an enjoyable experience with great people, and not about the burden of planning. While it's essential to navigate the stress of travel, book the right place to stay, and plan add-on activities, the experience should be stress-free, not another chore or day at the office.


The best golf trips are relaxing and create lasting memories. Whether you’re a low handicap seeking championship courses or a weekend golfer eager to experience travel with friends, use GIMME Golf Travel’s Comprehensive Golf Trip Planning Guide to support your next trip. 


GIMME Golf Travel is your partner every step of the way.


We Plan. You Play.





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