There are two kinds of golfers: those on buddies’ trips, and those planning buddies’ trips. If you fall into the second camp, here are four key points to keep in mind as you look to book in 2023.
1. Consider Travel Costs
Like a hacker’s scorecard, the price of plane tickets and hotel rooms can fluctuate wildly, which makes getting the best rates an imprecise science. That said, timing matters. One travel-industry survey found that airfares tend to stay the same between 320 and 106 days ahead of travel, and start dropping after that. It can pay to wait. But not till the last minute, as prices often soar at the 11th hour. Plus, if you sit on your hands too long, your desired seats and rooms sell out. If peace of mind is what you value most, it’s worth booking sooner than later, with the understanding that prices might drop after you’ve paid.
2. Adjust Your Expectations Overseas
Would you like to play the Old Course? Congratulations. So would pretty much everyone else. The unleashing of pent-up demand has put tee times at a premium at marquee courses across the pond, according to Gordon Dalgleish, president of the golf-travel company PerryGolf. The most sought-after courses in the UK and Ireland might still have a slot or two available in 2023, “but the ability to create and enjoy a cohesive trip over six to eight days on multiple courses is extremely difficult and unlikely at this stage for 2023.” Which doesn’t mean you can’t go at all. Those same countries are loaded with the terrific courses that don’t always make the covers of glossy magazines. And many of them still have room for you.
3. Stay Flexible in the States
Here in the U.S., similar laws of supply and demand apply. “There is still a hangover from the pandemic and most travelers are booking their golf vacations earlier than ever,” says Bill Hogan, business development manager for golf-travel company Pioneer Golf. At this point, Hogan says, the most popular destinations can be difficult gets, with “just bits and pieces here or there for twosomes or very small groups.” It never hurts to call. Cancellations happen. Last-minute slots arise. Some A-list destinations still have some primo openings.
At Streamsong, for instance, some 2023 availability remains for the Clubhouse Experience — the resort’s most exclusive buddies’ package. If you’re looking to play TPC Sawgrass immediately after the Players Championship, Pioneer Golf can still arrange that for next year. An exhaustive list would be too long to include here. Point is, it’s worth checking around. If your schedule has some wiggle room, and you can swing a trip in the shoulder seasons as opposed to prime time — more options start to open. “Golf travelers have to be flexible for next year and not make any assumptions based on previous years expectations,” Hogan says.
4. Broaden Your Horizons
For the golf industry, jam-packed tee sheets are a good problem to have. Another upside of the post-pandemic market, Hogan says, “is the ‘new’ destinations that are being ‘discovered’” by seasoned travelers, ranging from Bend, Ore. to Central Texas and beyond. Golf is an adventure. Consider lighting off to some place you’ve never been before.