Mickey Walker on recommending golf holidays
Recommending where to go on a golf holiday is a bit like recommending a film or a book.
It is so subjective, that unless I know the person asking well enough to know their likes and dislikes, I ask them what their priorities are and what they are prepared to compromise on.
It may be that, as much as most of us would love to spend a week at Gleneagles playing the three magnificent courses there, our budget for this year’s golfing holiday won’t run to their prices so that might have to wait until we’ve saved up for that very special occasion. So we choose somewhere that is affordable now and fulfils most of our ‘holiday criteria’.
So what are the things to consider when booking a golf holiday?
Do you book to play on a course that you will enjoy playing. I know that this might sound like a ridiculous thing to say, but if you’ve just been watching the PGA Championship at Wentworth and think that you’d like to go and play the West Course there, depending on your handicap and how far you hit the ball, it might be too difficult for you.
Instead of playing there being the highlight of your golfing experience, it might be an absolute nightmare since you can’t make the carries or flight the ball well enough to get onto the several raised greens.
Are you happy to go to a resort course which will pair you with golfers who you don’t know?
If you are going away as a single person, do check that the holiday you’re booking on isn’t just for couples. I spend a fair amount of my time taking golfing groups abroad and operate an ‘all are welcome’ policy, which means as long as you have a genuine handicap and enjoy meeting people and playing golf with golfers of both sexes and various handicaps you are welcome.
I have had the experience of friends only wanting to play together or partners not wanting to be in the same group as their spouse/partner. If you absolutely don’t want to play with people that you haven’t met before you are best to organise your own group rather than join someone else’s.
I’ve played golf literally all over the world and have come to realise that I don’t enjoy playing golf in a climate that is either scorching hot or very humid or both! Do you want an element of tuition during your holiday or are you a competitive person who wants to play in a competition each day?
Some people learn better in a group environment and others much prefer to be taught on a one-to-one situation. Neither is right or wrong, it’s just what you prefer. Perhaps you want to specialise on improving your short game, or do some work on the mental side of your game.
I’ve played golf literally all over the world and have come to realise that I don’t enjoy playing golf in a climate that is either scorching hot or very humid or both! I might like those climates for a non-golfing holiday but not if I’m going to be spending a fair amount of my time on the course.
Earlier this year, for the 15th consecutive year, I took a group golfing in Turkey in the middle of April. The temperature was in the low 20s every day, which was ideal. My personal preference is for the temperature to be between 20 and 30 degrees, not too humid and not too windy.
When it comes to flights, make sure that you know your baggage allowance, if all taxes are included as well as your golf clubs. Sometimes what appear to be the cheapest flights end up being the most expensive because apart from you, everything from your baggage to your in-flight meal is an extra!
Probably the other big consideration is what facilities do you want or expect from your hotel or accommodation? It might be that you actually enjoy doing your own cooking, or are prepared to in order to reduce costs, so are happy to go self-catering. Or the opposite is true in that the food, fine wine and good service is a big part of your holiday, so finding a resort or hotel that can provide this is paramount.
If you play golf on a regular basis or are a member of a club, you will hear from your fellow golfers about golf holidays that they’ve been on, the ones that they’d repeat, or are great value, or a hidden gem that not many people know about.
There are so many great places to go, both here and abroad, that you should be able to find somewhere that meets your criteria. Happy holidays!