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Got The Travel Bug? Tips On Planning Your Next Trip

Like many friends, I’ve been off the grid traveling for much of the last month or so.  As summer now comes to a close, kids are heading back to school and travel is winding down.  But wait, is it really?  Labor Day weekend actually kicked off the start of fall travel.  It seems that we have so much pent up excitement for travel and resorts confirm this reporting that travel is at its highest level since the pandemic began. The numbers don’t indicate things will be slowing down.  

Just The Facts

Per a recent article in Forbes, the National Golf Foundation (NGF) surveyed 75 U.S. resort facilities and found that current advance bookings for golf trips are up 12% over the same period last year, and almost 20% versus before the pandemic.  

In June, travel spending surpassed 2019 levels for the third consecutive month and hit a new pandemic high of $105 billion.  This is all great news as far as the economy in the travel sector, however if you’re trying to plan your next big golf trip, you may be facing some frustration when you try to get a reservation. 

Golf resorts in particular are booked out as people with trips postponed over the last few years are occupying their availability through next year.  I was one of those who rolled over a trip. We went to Ireland and just returned.  My original trip there was planned three years ago.  

So what does all this mean?  Start planning now!
(And consider the help of a golf tour operator.)

Demand is an issue. Here are some thoughts on two of the country’s top resorts, plus my thoughts on the benefits of a tour operator based on our recent experiences.

Best Caddy Ever, Nevin Ellenberger at Bandon

Pacific Dunes

BCE, Nevin

Bandon Dunes on the Oregon Coast and its five renowned courses is one of my favorite places on earth.  I’ve been back too many times to count– with my husband, with friends, on a girls trip– and will keep going.  If you haven’t been, it’s a must for your bucket list.  Currently, Bandon has limited availability during the month of December this year and also for December 2023. 

Winning the Kemper Sports Four Ball Tourney at Bandon.

That’s right.  If you want to go this year or next, the only months with any availability according to their booking calendar is in December.  They do say to call to explore a short stay or capitalize on sudden cancellations, especially if you are a small group and have flexible dates.  You never know.  Oh, one last note on Bandon. I’ve been there in December more than once because that’s my birthday month and the weather can be almost as good as it is any other time of the year.

Thistle Dhu putting green located at the main clubhouse at Pinehurst with the Putter Boy statue

 Pinehurst, with nine courses and several hotels and inns, hasn’t started booking out for next year yet so there is still time.  And if you’d like to circumvent the hassle of trying to book and coordinate your next trip to anywhere in the U.S., I would recommend calling my friend Greg Austin, a golf pro by trade and owner of Austin Millennium Enterprises, LLC aka AME Golf.  Greg can book your trip anywhere in the U.S., coast to coast, as well as anywhere in the UK, Ireland and Spain.  Greg helped us with a group Pinehurst trip last year and it was a great experience.  He and his staff got us on some pretty exclusive courses in the area.  Contrary to what you might think, tour companies like Greg’s most often save you money because of their relationships with resorts and courses.  That gets them rates less than the public ever sees.  The difference between their net rates from the resorts/courses and gross rates offered publicly is how they make their profit.  They also know the best accommodations and courses.  My husband and I recently got back from Ireland and did not use a tour/booking company – my husband took it upon himself to do it.  Our trip was amazing.  We were able to cut the cost by 40 percent from what a tour operator had quoted us.  However, he also spent days and days doing research, then arranging and confirming tee times, hotels, and our car rental.  He says he wouldn’t do it again. He certainly would not to have done it for a group either.  “Tour company next time,” is his answer now. 

Tori Totlis, My Paulsen, Jill Morrison, and Terri Cleary at the Desert Classic 2022

Attending the First Annual Desert Classic in Arizona

Tori Totlis of Compete Confidence Golf has started organizing golf trips and tournaments for women.  She’s currently booking for Dazante Bay October 13-17, 2022 and for Girls Gone Golfing: Pebble Beach January 18-21, 2023.  Her second annual 2023 Desert Classic Tournament will be held March 5-8 in Phoenix, Arizona.  Check out her site to get more information on her upcoming trips.

If you’re looking to go abroad,  Perry Golf, which specializes in overseas golf trips, says bookings are now out 18 months in advance of travel.  A good example which puts the situation in context is the Old Course at St Andrews, Muirfield, Royal County Down and Royal Portrush were sold out within days of opening their tee sheets for the 2023 season.  Perry also handles New Zealand/Australian trips– remember that winter here is summer in the southern hemisphere.  Perry has arranged two trips for friends, one to Scotland and the second to Ireland.  They gave us great reviews. BTW, while in Ireland we played with two guys who used a tour operator.  That’s right, a tour operator arranged a trip for just two people including a driver. 

No. 12 signature hole at Old Head in Ireland, considered by many to be the hardest hole in golf – I think they’re right!

I hope this is helpful.  It definitely makes me want to travel more but for now, I’ll be home working on my game.

Thanks for tuning in.  If you find yourself digging my blog, please feel free to forward it to a friend who might also enjoy it.  As always, I would love to hear from you — feel free to shoot me an email to with any questions, comments or suggestions for future posts.  Next up:  Best of Survey.  Have suggestions, please let me know!

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