Five Tips for the Travelling Golfer

From bringing your own balls to wearing spikeless shoes, these pointers will make your next golf vacation a breeze

Suitcase open to reveal golf green and golf club

Whether you’re making a pilgrimage to Pinehurst for an annual buddies trip, crossing the pond to hit the links or planning on some hemisphere-hopping to experience the game on the other side of the world, these golden rules of savvy golf travel apply.

Go Spikeless

Lighten up your luggage by springing for a pair of spikeless golf shoes that can double as airport/street shoes—Ecco shoes are especially comfy. The moulded nubbins provide the requisite traction and stability while playing but it’s their utility that makes them keepers. Hybrids can also handle the rigours of running through concourses to reach your gate as ably as cross trainers. This way you can go from the terminal to the tee box without even having to change your kicks.

B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Balls)

When it comes to golf balls, consider stowing a few sleeves in your suitcase. Resort and club pro shops on courses that cater to tourists tend to inflate prices to capitalize on a captive market, plus, there’s no guarantee the course will have your preferred brand of spheres.

Short Trip? Leave Your Clubs Behind

You can feel like a pack mule lugging a golf travel bag through the airport along with your carry-on and regular baggage. Then when you get to your destination it’s often an equal hassle figuring out how to squeeze them into the rental car—especially if you’re travelling with buddies. Besides, clubs have a strange tendency of pulling disappearing acts like socks in a dryer. Graham DeLaet, who has high hopes of cracking Canada’s Olympic squad this summer, had his clubs lost en route to St. Andrews for last year’s Open Championship. Also, most golf resorts these days provide top-of-the-line sticks, so you’ll get to demo the latest from Callaway, Nike, TaylorMade or Ping by renting. However, if you’re going on a lengthy trip, say a three-week trek across Scotland, then it makes sense to lug that golf travel bag as your game consistency will begin to suffer if you keep playing with different sets.

Experience Tour-Quality Conditions

The average golfer is never going to see their name on the leaderboard of a televised tournament, but they can often play on the same courses where Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and company ply their trade. Strategically book your trip before or after (the more popular choice) a major tournament to experience true PGA-quality conditions, and make sure to book well in advance. With tourney trappings still in place, the stage also naturally lends itself to re-enacting highlight-reel moments.

“No one will judge you if you make a long putt and then tip your hat to the empty grandstands,” jokes Brian Riddle, head professional at TPC Sawgrass, home of The Players Championship.

“Playing the course right before or right after a major golf event really gives you respect for the amazing talents of the PGA Tour stars. How they break 70 on these course setups, much less 80, is beyond comprehension,” adds Bill Hogan, director of international sales for Premier Golf, who has had the privilege of playing Pebble Beach and The Olympic Club days before a U.S. Open. “The fairways looked as narrow as a Band-Aid, and the rough was ridiculously high. Rarely could you hit anything more than a pitching wedge from the rough, it was so thick!”

Driving south for a golf getaway? Check out these great spots along the way.