Ever since the spring of 2020, when the outbreak of coronavirus began, the pandemic has brought about numerous changes in our lives, including traveling restrictions. Golf trips were no exception. When the PGA Tour canceled The Players Championship, the world of golf changed forever. As a consequence, golf players across the world had to adapt to these new changes and find ways to tackle the challenges of going on vacation.
The perpetual state of chaos specific to the coronavirus pandemic remains in many ways, but golf was one of the industries to not only survive but thrive during the pandemic. Although some things have changed dramatically, golf players are still able to relax and unwind on their favorite courses across the country. They might encounter difficulties when it comes to lodging and the cost of tee time, which is higher now, but otherwise, golf aficionados can still relish a round or two.
Major Changes in the Booking Cycle
One of the main components of golf trips that is very different now compared to the pre-coronavirus era is the booking cycle. Before the pandemic, golf players would book vacations for destinations such as the Kiawah Island Golf Resort and the Pinehurst Resort for the busy months of September and October, in August or September, without any difficulty. However, today, it is nearly impossible to book a tee time at the top courses for those months, as they had already been booked since December 2021 or even earlier.
Furthermore, before the pandemic, golf vacations in popular destinations, such as Scottsdale, Arizona, were usually booked from November to February by players who wanted to enjoy some rounds between January and April. Golf players who wanted to play in April could even book a tee time in March in some cases. Today, if people want to book a golf vacation for the first months of the year, they will most likely be late to the game. Still, because most golf courses stick with their 90 days or 120-day booking window, some players may be able to book tee time conveniently.
What to Avoid to Have a Memorable Golf Trip
To make sure you and your friends or family can play exactly when it is convenient to you, the key in the post-coronavirus world that we live in nowadays is to plan early and book your vacation as soon as possible. For instance, at the Pebble Beach Golf Links, people could usually book a trip for groups 6 months in advance easily. Now, if you plan to play on the exquisite links in May or June 2023, you may face difficulties. So, you may want to plan a later vacation for this destination.
Another essential aspect for groups is to book your tee time not after every person confirms they can go, but when you have just half or a little more of your buddies confirm they are available for the trip. Waiting for two or four players to commit to the trip – over a two-week period, for instance – could be the difference between going all together or not going at all since tee times and lodging get booked very rapidly.
Lastly, what groups should avoid is making a rigid schedule of the golf courses they want to play on specific days of their vacation. The longer groups wait to discuss how they want their trip to unfold, the more likely it is that other groups of players will come in, moving quickly and scooping up the ideal tee times. So, it is best to allow your trip to be on the flexible side and also allow it to be a little spontaneous, which will guarantee you will not get bored.
Keep in Mind the Higher Cost of Tee Times
Since the coronavirus pandemic started, especially since May 2020, when travel began to open up, with the exception of air travel, golf vacations have hit a major high compared to the previous years. Therefore, once a $1,000 per golf player trip in Scottsdale, for example, before the pandemic, is now $1,500 or higher per golf player, with similar lodging and for the same courses.
Along with the inflation, resorts are cashing in by increasing their rates and taking advantage of the situation while they can, so it should not shock or surprise you that what was once cheaper is quite expensive now. The good news is that, at some point, the costs will level off, most likely not getting as low as they were during the pre-coronavirus era, but they will decrease at least a bit.
As a golf player, you may find it hard to adapt to the changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, but if you have a keen interest in the game, the higher prices are definitely worth it. Perhaps the most important thing is that you and your buddies can still enjoy a round of golf at your favorite vacation destinations and take advantage of the luxurious amenities of the resorts throughout the United States and, now, even abroad, since there are no air travel restrictions.
About the AuthorSean Petersen is the owner of Golf Trip Junkie, a golf trip tour operator that offers memorable, customized vacations for all group sizes. His ultimate goal is to provide his customers with top experiences that will exceed their expectations.