Five things you might not have thought of that can make or break your golf break...
#1: Live in the real world
We've all made this mistake: planning an itinerary that looks majestic on paper, with a top course morning and afternoon for four days of what will be golfing ecstasy. In reality, you've never left enough time to get from the morning's course to the afternoon's venue, so you always feel rushed... and don't enjoy any of it as a result. By all means pack plenty of golf in, but be realistic in terms of how long your round will genuinely take, and ditto in terms of the travelling between them.
#2: Climate control
While you are googling the climate of your destination, it's also worth considering how important playing in sunshine actually is to you. On a week's holiday, you can accept the odd indifferent day, but if you want sun and you're only going for three or four days, select accordingly. In the Algarve for example the sun shines every month of the year, and it is never cold. But if the sun is crucial, you need to restrict yourself to May to September. You might get lucky in April, October... even January, but don't book those months and then moan about clouds or drizzle. Don't gamble with the weather. Finally, book your GB&I trips in April and May – we think you've got a better chance of a dry break then than the summer!
#3: To hire or not to hire?
Airline club carriage charges are extortionate – we often pay more to throw our clubs in the hold than ourselves in the cabin. And with companies like Clubs to Hire offering new kit for reasonable prices, it is tempting to hire.
1) if you do this, remember to pack gloves, tees and especially lots of balls in your luggage – no- one wants to be buying these in an upmarket pro shop, and
2) do you really want to use up one of your long-anticipated holiday rounds getting used to different clubs.
#4: To hire or not to hire II
Having a car can be very useful, but probably only worth the hassle if the courses you are playing are significant distances away. But if you just need two or three short taxi journeys, there is every chance the cost of the car, the tolls, the fuel and the insurance might outweigh the taxi fares. And it means everyone can have a beer after the round.
#5: Choose your base carefully
Even if you don't plan to spend much time in your hotel/room, it's worth making sure the location is appropriate, because no-one wants to spend hours travelling to and from the courses. Don't dismiss travelling times with a cursory look at a map thinking 'it looks about 20 minutes'. Find out exactly, before you create a complete pain in reality. Even consider having two bases on a trip – even with the annoyance of packing/unpacking. And don't book an out-of-town hotel if you are golfers who like going out at night.
Booking your own travel, green fees and accommodation can bring great savings through early birds, shoulder rates, Twilights, play and stays, group discounts... but don't totally dismiss the buying power of a golf travel specialist.
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