9 tips to save money on your next US golf vacation
How to make your dollars go further when booking a domestic golf trip
Everyone likes to save money and get the best deals, which is no different with golf travel.
Below are some top tips from Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR on how to get the best bang for your buck on your next golf trip within the USA.
1) Head for the shoulder seasons
With so many great golf destinations within the USA there is a lot of seasonality to get your head around. For example, the high season in the desert (Palm Springs, Las Vegas and Scottsdale) is different to the Carolinas (Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach and Kiawah). Plus, all these destinations have at least three seasons –high, low and shoulder. As you would expect, high season is the prime time to visit a destination based on weather and playing conditions, which results in the highest prices and biggest crowds. Low season is the reverse.
We highly recommend looking at the shoulder season, as this can often be where prices drop but playing conditions and weather are still good. The only thing to be wary of is that courses may well be doing some of their maintenance work during this time, so it is important to check the maintenance schedule when booking your trip.
2) Find a flight deal
If you are selecting a destination for your next golf trip that you need to fly to, then obviously airline prices will come into the equation. When advising clients around flights we use flight aggregator tools like Google Flights or Skyscanner. These are great websites that show pricing for all different routes and airlines on any given dates. With airline prices fluctuating so much based on season and destination, we highly recommend doing your flight research in the early stages of your planning, as this may well dictate which destination you go to and when. You can save a lot of money by finding a great deal on flights. Furthermore, booking flights a few months in advance of travel will normally mean lower prices.
3) Pick your tee times wisely
As with being strategic around seasons, the same can be applied to picking the right tee times that give you a break on price. Every golf club has times they know they can fill over and over again, so these are obviously priced at a premium. They also have plenty of times that are undesirable due to factors such as daytime temperatures or lack of daylight. As with seasonality, clubs will tend to have at least three different price points in each day, so be sure to ask about the ‘mid-tier' pricing which will be somewhere in the middle of high and low. If you are willing to be flexible around when you play each day of your trip, then you will be able to save on your green fees.
4) Go for a ‘grab and go’ breakfast
We all know that eating breakfast at hotels can be expensive compared with regular diners or doing your own thing. Even if your accommodations come with breakfast included it is worth asking if the nightly rate reduces if breakfast is stripped out. You will at least then understand how much you are being charged for breakfast and can then make decisions accordingly. It also depends on how important a hearty breakfast is to you, as with a big day of golf ahead the expansive breakfast buffet at hotels and resorts may well be just what you need.
5) Beware of onsite parking fees
If you are driving to your destination or renting a car from the airport, then you will need to think about parking. Resorts and hotels across the country have very different attitudes and approach towards whether to charge parking fees. If you are staying somewhere for 4 or 5 nights or even longer, these fees can really escalate (often up to $30 plus tax per day). A little like baggage fees with airlines these days. Our recommendation is to make sure you ask questions and understand what these fees may be prior to pulling the trigger and making your booking. You may want to choose your accommodations accordingly or think about pre-arranged transfers or Ubers instead of renting a car from the airport.
6) Sniff out the ‘free replay’ rounds
When going on a golf trip we know how important it is to squeeze as much golf in as possible and really make the most of it. Groups often like to play 27 to 36 holes in a day, so with that in mind, it is important to understand the golf course’s policy with regards to replay rounds. There are some great deals out there with certain courses, some even offering free replay rounds. Furthermore, some courses will even give you a break in price if you commit to playing two rounds at that course during your stay(which do not have to be played on the same day). Also, there are some resorts that have multiple courses onsite that will offer ‘unlimited’ golf at certain times of the year.
7) The early bird catches the worm!
Remember to start planning your trip in advance, as early booking incentives are often available even in peak seasons and golf course pricing often increases as tee times fill up. At Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, we always recommend our customers book as far in advance as possible, and this is particularly important for the bigger groups. Firstly, this gives you the best choice in tee times and accommodations as availability will be good, and secondly, you may also get access to preferential pricing. Golf travel is no different from any other industry where supply and demand dictate pricing, so the earlier you book (when demand is lower) the better pricing you may get.
8) To cook or be cooked for?
There are a lot of great savings to be had by choosing a private home or villa accommodation versus hotel accommodation. This is very much down to personal preference as many of our clients just love that hotel/resort experience, where you do not have to do any cooking or cleaning and can therefore get a proper break. However, if you like to have your own space where you can hang out in the evenings with your buddies; grilling, drinking beer, listening to music, and playing cards, we highly recommend booking a villa or condo. Depending on the size of the group, the savings compared with a typical hotel or resort stay can be substantial too. We have also found this type of stay to be even more popular during COVID-19, and rest assured that cleanliness has become a top priority for villa owners and management companies.
9) The further you stay, the more you save!
Have you heard the expression ‘location, location, location!’ when it comes to property prices? Well, the same can often be said for accommodations and green fee pricing. So, if you are prepared to stay in a more remote hotel or play courses that are more than 30minutes drive from the urban centers, you are likely to pay less. These hotels and courses will be less popular and therefore in order to compete, they must price themselves accordingly. Although this type of stay may require more effort in terms of traveling each day to and from golf courses or going out in the evenings, the other advantage on top of saving money is that you can also typically expect a less crowded and busy venue, which could make for a more pleasurable experience.
If you would like help putting together your next golf trip within the USA, then please reach out to the team at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR. We have been booking trips since 1998 and have a wealth of knowledge on golf in the USA and overseas. We will also provide you with concierge service and a best price guaranteed.
Golf Vacation Specialist
Golf Vacation Specialist, I advise clients on golf courses and accommodation options for our US and overseas trips