As I start this fun blog, I’m taking my neighbors on their first golf trip in two months to Mesquite, Nevada so what a better time to show you what our process is and what we plan to do.
Back when I was the Head Professional in Illinois, I would organize an annual golf trip to the Mississippi for our staff and members. This was absolutely a blast for me to organize as it was always a good time on and off the golf course. You might say it was a nice perk and reward for the staff as the owner of the course would even fund this trip.
These short golf outings make for such memorable times with multiple ways to fill up your days. If you’re coming from a cold climate to a warm climate to play golf, it’s a break from the weather which can energize you to stay active. Other reasons can be just to play golf in different areas of the country, spend time with your spouse, family or friends, or a way to get together with your college buddies. You can keep busy playing just one course or multiple courses during the day and leaving the evening for good dining, night life or just hanging out together playing cards. These outings make for the perfect golf vacation!
If you or your group decides to plan a trip, make sure you communicate with them all and find out who wants to be heavily involved or who is going to just trust the plan and go with the flow. Try to clarify who will be doing most of the planning while getting opinions from everyone. It usually runs better when the trip is laid out with the formalities up front.
I hope reading this blog either helps your group plan your golf trips better or hopefully you can start an annual tradition among your friends and family for years to come!
Pick a Destination
Start off planning your golf vacation by choosing a warm destination with comfortable weather like Palm Springs, Florida, Myrtle Beach, Las Vegas, Arizona, etc. There are many factors of picking a golf destination. Your golf trip may include friends all from all over the country so you may want to pick a central location that’s easy for everyone to get to.
Also be sure to look for a golf destination with multiple good golf courses in one area. The convenience of having many golf courses to choose from is so valuable and makes things a lot easier for any last minute changes. Playing at multiple courses will also broaden your game with different strategies, shots and approaches. You’ll learn what types of courses you prefer and can choose the same course or type or course for future outings.
For this upcoming spring – still in the Covid era which requires a destination that is within driving distance of Colorado – my friends and I chose Mesquite Nevada which fit all of our requirements. Distance-wise, even though it’s far away, Mesquite is on the eastern border of Nevada so it’s only a 9.5 drive away from Colorado, which is acceptable. We plan to leave in the morning which will leave time for us to squeeze in some holes before nightfall.
Check the Local Weather Forecast
We also found that the average weather in Mesquite for the season is an average of 70 degrees with little chance of rain!
Pick your Golfing Partners
Being a golf professional, I unintentionally got few of my neighbors to absolutely fall in love with golf. I mean talking golf non-stop, playing as much as ever, watching golf on tv and even getting together to draft players in fantasy golf for PGA Tour events. I got them into golf so they got official handicaps and some even joined me as members at my golf courses.
We also wanted to keep it as a foursome as this would be their first golf trip as well as a new destination for us all. If we were to invite more the next trip, I would keep it at an interval of four so we fill every group and keep the betting games much easier to play.
Sometimes these golf trips are more than golf so make sure you invite golfers that truly want to go and spend time with the group, not just golf. No one wants to make others awkward during a vacation since you are altogether 24/7 for many days so make your choices wisely.
Ask Permission from Your Spouse at the Right Time
If you are not married, you are allowed to skip this part. When we discussed this trip and got serious with everyone saying “I’m IN” the hardest part was about to be endured, proposing to our spouses that we leave our families for 5 days to go play golf. I made a suggestion to them that they propose at the right time whatever that may mean in their relationship.
Being in the golf business, I’ve seen many golfers give a 100% commitment only to back out at the last minute because they forgot they had a work meeting or a family commitment. If you know your group well, make sure they understand that there may be some down payments or pre-purchases on travel and lodging that they will be liable for.
Some things such as group housing rentals have to be spread out and some golf courses require money upfront or have a strict cancellation policy for their reservations. Some resorts offer “stay and play” custom golf packages with discounts at a group rate.
Pick your Dates
After getting the green light from some or most of your group, the next important task is to find the dates that will work for everyone. Depending on family situations, work and travel time, you can pick however many days you can play but most schedule these trips for 3-4 days.
For our golf outing in Mesquite, we are playing 4 rounds of golf in three days. Our travel day there includes a 18 hole twilight round, the next day we are playing 36 holes and the last full day there we are playing 18. We then leave bright and early the following day. Not bad for a weekend, Thursday-Sunday golf trip!
Most trips include 36 holes in one or even two days but what else is there to do on a golf trip? (We by chance are going to Mesquite during the first weekend of the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament so there is actually something else).
Pick your Courses
This is the fun part. Planning any trip in general is fun and exciting as you surf the web for travel, lodging, dining and things to do. A golf trip is simple: wake up, play golf, play more golf, eat and drink, go to bed. Rinse and Repeat. I’ve played hundreds of courses in my career yet still get excited when reviewing course layouts and images of courses I’ve never played before.
Make sure you account for pricing and time when you choose courses. You usually want to play the best ones which usually means they may be on the expensive side. Make sure your group is comfortable with the fees of the courses. Make sure you keep your courses centralized. If your group had a long travel day, the last thing you want is to add more hours to it just to play other courses. Sometimes you can travel within the trip if you change lodging locations also. It’s always nice to stay close to your lodging to save time, reduce travel time and be safer on the road.
For our trip, we are playing a nice course on the way to Mesquite (Sand Hollow Golf Resort) in Utah so we can get in 18 holes before dark. The next few days our courses (Conestoga Golf Course, Wolf Creek Golf Course & Falcon Ridge Golf Course) remain in Mesquite where we are staying in a rented townhouse.
Budget the trip
After finalizing the golf courses you wish to play, this means that you have officially chosen a golf vacation destination and now it’s time to put it all together. The travel, lodging and rental cars if needed would be the next steps to make this closer to a reality.
Your task now is to do your research on the costs and see what fits everyone’s budget. You also have to see what is needed for any pre-payments, deposits and cancellation fees. At the end of this, you hope to have a total trip cost for each golfer in the group. I would keep the food and drinks excluded since everybody’s preferences and tastes are different.
- Travel Cost (can be done individually when golfers are coming from different areas)
- Lodging Cost (taxes, cleaning fees, admin fees and non-refundable deposits)
- Golf Fees (add club rentals to individuals for anyone needing them)
- Rental Car/Ride fees
- Betting Games Costs (each game should have a set fee for the group games)
If you are the one putting your own money or credit card into the trip, I would strongly suggest getting your group’s fees and money before the trip (especially if there’s more than a foursome going). It is to double-confirm that they are going on this trip but it will make everything easier and less stressful for you during and after the trip. I would make a spreadsheet of who and what is paid in and what is being paid out.
For my upcoming trip to Mesquite, since we are only a foursome and they are my neighbors and trust them, lodging is the only payment that needs a payment since we have no car rental or flights. This is already paid out by all so everyone has contributed their share of the lodging.
Reserve Your Tee Times
This may be the most under-rated task, making the reservations at the golf courses you plan to play. It’s a lot easier when you are playing 18 holes a day at multiple courses as you have a bigger time frame to get in your round. However, if you plan to play 36 holes either at one course or two courses for the day, you may want to reserve your tee times when they first allow you to.
All courses open different time frames up leading up to your reservation day. Some golf clubs allow reservations up to 90, 60, 30 or only 2 weeks in advance so be sure to make that reservation and get the times you want.
For our Mesquite trip, I have added a reminder to make the reservations 60 days exactly before each golf day as they allow. We are planning to play 36 holes at two different courses in one day but they are only ten minutes from each other so we will account for the short trip over.
So plan your trip with plenty of time before the rounds for registration, club rentals, warming up or lunch. On destination courses that also are difficult, you may be playing at a time when it is fairly busy and could affect your pace of play so make sure you give your group enough time if you’re playing two different courses in a day.
Adjust to Local Times
Also be sure to check times zones if you’re crossing states. We checked the time zone in Mesquite and realized that we will gain an hour crossing the Nevada border so we took that in effect on the arrival day and departure day.
Another factor you want to look into is the sunrise and sunset times. You usually won’t be able to tee off exactly at sunrise but you want to find out the first tee time the course allows for that day. If you plan on playing at a twilight tee time, I would check what time the sun sets or when you have to be off the course per course policies.
Explain and Set up Betting Games
I’m not suggesting that your group has to place bets on each round, hole or even each shot, but I strongly recommend it if your group enjoys a little competition and smack-talk. You may think that this is too far out and maybe even do it on the range while warming up but I suggest that you at least set up the game format for the different courses. If your group has committed to this trip, this means that you have the pieces to the games.
I usually set up the games and teams weeks before the trip even using their up-to-date handicap indexes. The few reasons why you want to set it up this early is to excite your group and get them ready for the trip. This could mean going out and practicing, getting a tune-up golf lesson from a PGA Professional (wink!), buying a new golf polo or loading up on golf balls. They can also see who their partners and opponents will be to razz up any trash-talking leading up to the games.
Wrapping it Up
I hope this blog post provides you a clear footprint of all the factors you should consider when planning out your perfect golf getaway. I hope you and your friends and family love it so much you decide to make an annual event out of it. 🙂
I’ve seen golf trips of 16 golfers go on the exact same golf trip year after year at the same courses, same lodging and same time frame. Maybe you’ll experience something similar!