Planning a Golf Vacation or a Vacation with Golf

Planning a Golf Vacation or a Vacation with Golf?

Eric Benzenberg Courses, Travel Leave a Comment

Anybody who enjoys golf looks forward, maybe even dreams of, to planning a golf getaway. Instantly, places like Streamsong, Kiawah Island, French Lick, Savannah Harbor, and Pebble Beach start coming to mind.  

But before you make that first tee time, here are some things to consider:

What’s the Purpose of the Trip?

Really what this comes down to is whether this is an actual golf trip, or is this a trip that you’ll get to play some vacation golf?  

If this happens to be a trip that will let you sneak in a round or two (i.e., you’re with a significant other who tolerates your addiction), I would highly suggest looking at destinations that have lots of things to do with quality golf courses nearby. This makes sure that a) everyone is happy and enjoys the trip and b) you’ll get a chance to play more vacation golf in the future.

A perfect example would be a trip I took out to California a couple years ago. My girlfriend and I decided to spend a few days in San Francisco and a few in Napa Valley. I was able to play golf twice during the 10-days we were away at some really nice courses. How? Because I agreed/negotiated to play really early at Presidio Golf Course, which might be the nicest course in San Francisco besides the Olympic Club, and make a “trip” out of a round at Wente Vineyard (pictured below), which turned out to be an incredible opportunity between some great wine and playing golf in the vineyard.

To sum things up, know why you’re traveling, who you’re traveling with, what they’re into or will tolerate. Answering these questions will narrow down where you might be going fairly quickly (San Francisco yes, French Lick in Indiana no).

Now on the other hand, if you’ve been blessed with the opportunity to plan a golf trip, prepare to do a lot of homework and planning. But don’t worry, it’s all going to pay off the minute you step up to that first tee box.

Obvious But Necessary – Budget and Time of Year

Besides the obvious factors, like the time of the year you’re considering and the seasonal weather conditions, the budget will be a decisive factors.

Golf Resort vs. Non-Golf Resort

After determining when you want to go and how much you’re willing to spend, the next big question is whether you want to stay at a golf resort or a normal hotel. Golf resorts are great; they usually have incredible facilities, everything is on site, and it probably offers a Stay & Play package. That said, be prepared for it to be a little more crowded with like-minded golfers and, depending on how many rounds you’re looking to play, anticipate that the courses will be fairly similar, if there are even multiple courses to play.

For the more adventurous, find a hotel in an area surrounded by tons of quality golf. South Carolina, whether we’re talking about Kiawah Island or Hilton Head, is a great example. Both of these areas are flooded with quality golf, including the Ocean Course, Sea Pines, and Wild Dunes.  

While most of these courses are attached to golf resorts, you could stay there, but if you’re like me it’s nice to have some variety and stay at a non-golf resort. That said, staying at a non-golf resort probably means forfeiting a few perks, like discounted green fees, advance tee time booking, replay rates, etc.

Eric’s Short List

While there’s a nearly endless amount of places, here’s my Top 5 Golf Getaway list, in no particular order. This list takes into consideration a few factors; primarily golf but also what the surrounding area offers.

1. Streamsong Resort in Streamsong, Florida (~1 Hour from Tampa)

Beautiful, dedicated-golf resort with 3 golf courses–Red and Black, which are on the Top 100 Courses to play in America, and Black, which was just opened September 2017.  

Streamsong also has a few non-golf activities (Clay Shooting and Bass Fishing) if you need to change it up.

2. Kiawah Island or Hilton Head

There were too many places to list them individually, so here are a few. Barefoot Resort & Golf, Kiawah Island Golf Resort (home of the Ocean Coures), Omni Hilton Head, Palmetto Dunes, Port Royal Golf & Raquet Club, the Sea Pines Resort, and Wild Dunes.

3. Pebble Beach, California 

Obvious, but lots of options. Links at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach, Poppy Hills, and Spyglass Hill.

4. Arizona 

Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa, Four Seasons Scottsdale, Omni Tucson National Resort, Talking Stick Resort, and TPC Scottsdale

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5. Scotland

For those ready to make the all out, dedicated, international golf trip and pay homage to where the game started.

Castle Stuart Golf Links, Dunaverty Golf Club, Inverness Golf Club, Machrihanish Golf Club, Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club, Muirfield, the Nairn Golf Club, and St. Andrews.

Honorable Mention:

1. Hawaii

Kapalua, Manele Bay (pictured), Poipu Bay, and Wailea are just a few

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2. Las Vegas, Nevada

Cascata, Paiute Golf Resort (Wolf Course pictured), Shadow Creek, Wynn Las Vegas, 

A post shared by Graig Mantle (@rgmphoto) on

3. Pinehurst, North Carolina

4. The Coeur d’ Alene Resort 

Just because the Hole #14.  I mean, you have to take a boat ride to the green.

Parting words: before you finalize your trip, make sure you plan out how your clubs are getting to the final destination. I’ve flown with my clubs (in a SKB hard case) and I’ve used ShipSticks, and each method has its pro’s and con’s.


Cover Image via Instagram

About Eric Benzenberg

Ever since golf became a competitive outlet, nothing brings Eric more joy than a well struck 4 iron. And despite living in NYC, Eric makes it a priority to work on his game and fitness during the week, along with a round or two over the weekend. Fortunately, he’s got a very understanding fiancé who (for the time being) accepts him and his obsession. Follow Eric on IG @hozel_rocket.

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