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Golf continues to be a popular sport among all age groups and ethnicities. According to a report by the National Golf Foundation, 36% of the US population played, watched, or read about golf in 2019. There were 24 million on-course golfers. The junior golf program continued to recruit a new generation where one in four juniors were ethnically diverse and one in three were girls.
As the sport continues to grow, domestic golf vacations continue to be popular forms of travel for many amateur golfers. Most avid golfers are familiar with the top courses such as Augusta National, Pinehurst, Pebble Beach, Cypress Point and Shinnecock. These courses should be booked well in advance if you plan to play them and be aware there may be requirements to produce your handicap in order to get on the course. If you are not a handicapped golfer and just enjoy the sport for fun, there are lots of options to play and hone your skills, or just have a fun day on the course.
There are some tricks however, to planning a successful golf getaway. To start, the type of getaway will help determine the best place in the U.S. to visit, as well as the structure of your trip. There are numerous types of golf getaways, but these are the most popular.
Guys or gals groups, where the entire focus is on the golf. These groups of friends and family will play as many courses as possible, and sometimes golf up to 36 holes in a day. They are focused on spots with evening entertainment and good restaurant options nearby, so they don’t need to drive too far. Typically, moderate style accommodations, condos or villas are the preferred style of accommodation and locations with numerous and varied types of courses to diversify play. Great locations include the Carolinas, especially Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach, Arizona, normally Phoenix/Scottsdale or Tucson, and Nevada, especially in and around Las Vegas or Mesquite. These are some of the best locations for winter and spring golf getaways, but during the summer months there are other fantastic locations in the Pacific Northwest, Midwest and along the East Coast.
Couples golf vacations will usually have a more upscale focus, desiring a nice environment with a full- service resort or hotel, scenic courses to play, and other sight-seeing or cultural activities. Couples may also be seeking exciting culinary opportunities and perhaps some local wine or beer tasting. It combines the best of both worlds and seeks out destinations that have a lot to offer.
Such destinations include Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, The Robert Trent Jones Trail in Alabama, multiple locations in California, and in the summer months there are great options in upstate New York, or Bend, Oregon, depending how far you want to travel. There is even an opportunity for a golf cruise along the lower Mississippi combining the best of river travel with a bit of golf in some new and unexplored areas. There are limited sailing dates for 2021 so ask your Signature Travel Network travel advisor to check availability.
Family golf vacations usually involve junior golfers, and time devoted to family. These trips need to be well-planned to be sure there is something for everyone, especially the non-golfers. With younger children, obviously Florida is a good choice with Universal Studios and Walt Disney World as options for the younger members of the family, and a lot of challenging courses in the Orlando area to choose from for the golfers.
Other options with older children or teens could easily include San Diego, with great beaches and attractions, as well as numerous courses, like those in Torrey Pines or the Carlsbad area. San Antonio, TX offers great family attractions with the Alamo and the River Walk, and well rated golf courses. Tucson, AZ, with fantastic golf resorts and options like Old Tucson Studios, Saguaro National Park, and Pima Air and Space Museum to entertain the family. Williamsburg, VA or Hershey, PA also provide some unique opportunities for family golf.
When working with your Travel Advisor, be sure to mention the number of rounds you wish to play, how many people in your party, the handicap scores or level of play you desire, a target budget for the trip, and the style of accommodation you prefer. If you plan to bring your own clubs, great, but if you need to rent clubs on site, be sure to specify if you need a left or right-handed set of clubs. There are a wide variety of options for planning a successful golf getaway, so reach out to your favorite travel planner and tee up your next golf vacation.
After being up since 4 AM, a 12 hour flight from Rome and lost baggage we sprinted through LAX to hopefully catch our connecting flight to Phoenix. Along the way we met “Hunter” sporting a “Pet Me” red vest! Part of the LAX “Pets Unstressing Passengers” program (PUP), Hunter & his handler provided us a “PAWSitive” experience relieving our stress & anxiety. After a few hugs his little wet nose & wagging tail dropped our blood pressure and we were good to go! There are approx. 20 airports across the USA & Canada including Miami, San Francisco, Mineta San Jose, and Edmonton International Airports having therapy dogs helping frazzled flyers! We made our flight and our bags arrived undamaged on our front steps in 48 hours later…Life is Good!
Making the World Your Playground!
TSA screeners beginning June 30, 2018 are scrutinizing powdered substances such as dry spices, protein and baby powders making it more difficult for international passengers to carry these types of items through airport security in a carry-on. Inbound international flight passengers with 12 ounces or more of powder, may be subject to additional screening. However, if the powder cannot be identified, it may also be confiscated. https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/all On the lighter side, antlers, Harry Potter wands and bowling balls are accepted in carry-on or checked bags but alcoholic beverages with more than 70% alcohol over 140 proof and Bear Spray are prohibited.
Making the World Your Playground!
Orlando International stated it will be the 1st airport in the U.S. using facial recognition to process arriving and departing passengers. In less than 2 seconds with use of a tiny camera they can compare traveler’s photos with their Department of Homeland Security on file images processing travelers quickly and with 99% percent accuracy. Visa photos or Passports on file are used to compare to the traveler’s face helping to create a secure and seamless travel experience.
The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority and U.S. Customs & Border Protection joined together to create this program which was already being tested in Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, New York JFK, San Diego, Washington Dulles and pre-clearance tested in Aruba, Abu Dhabi, and Ireland. By the end of 2019 the program will be fully operational at Orlando International Airport.
Making the World Your Playground!
The Governor of Hawaii signed recent legislation to become the first state in the U.S. to ban sunscreen containing oxybenzone and octinoxate believed by scientists to be causing damage to Hawaiian coral reefs. The chemical contamination is renewed daily by beachgoers and swimmers resulting in coral bleaching the main cause of coral mortality. Other acceptable sunblock on the market which contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide do not harm coral. The ban will take effect 2021.
Making the World Your Playground!
500+ million plastic straws are used and discarded daily in the United States. American Airlines, Bon Appétit Management (on-site restaurants), Hilton, HMSHost (airport food-service), Hyatt, IKEA, Royal Caribbean International, SeaWorld, Starbucks and Walt Disney Company have announced plans to stop using single-use plastic straws. For example Marriot will be removing them from all their properties eliminating approximately 1 billion straws annually.
Some companies are switching instead to an eco-friendly paper straw alternative. Finding show that discarded plastic straws in the oceans are a danger to sea creatures especially sea turtles. Alaska Airlines was convinced by a Girl Scout to switch to a marine-friendly alternative. Santa Barbara has threatened “time in the slammer” for those who distribute straws, while San Francisco prohibits one of the biodegradable alternatives.
There also is a fear that environmental policies causing drinking straw bans don’t consider people with disabilities who rely on plastic straws as tool of daily life. Sturdy plastic straws can sometimes be the difference between independence and needing help to drink for people with hardship conditions like cerebral palsy.
These days many of the world’s most popular destinations are concerned about “over tourism”. In response to this Rome’s Mayor Virginia Raggi , issued new laws banning bad behavior by tourists. The days of sightseers bathing in public fountains, dining on monuments and treating monuments with disrespect are over. Law breakers will now be greeted with “Zero Tolerance” in Rome’s city center areas.
Comparable efforts are being imposed around the world. Tourists on the Spanish Steps will be warned to stop drinking beer and keep their footgear on. Fines are being distributed in Florence for feasting in doorways and walkways near the Uffizi Galleries. Eating is being restricted in St Mark’s Square unless done in a local café or restaurant in the square and the red-light district of Amsterdam will begin prohibiting guided tours. Not to be left out, locals who dress themselves in fake Roman Soldier attire posing near ancient monuments seeking money from tourists who take selfies with them will also be fined.
Our advice to travelers - when you’re in a foreign country be respectful of the culture and have a wonderful experience! Enjoy your surroundings and appreciate the culture which is your host.