- February 22, 2021 // The Consummate Pro
To state the obvious, the Covid-19 pandemic has decimated international golf travel. Thankfully however, with the arrival of effective vaccines, there is light at the end of the tunnel. There is significant demand from golfers from all over the world to take an Ireland or Scotland golf trip, so it is simply now a matter of when. There would appear to be limited opportunity for international golf travel this year, so folks are understandably looking at 2022 and 2023 for that golfing fix. With that in mind, I thought I would use this post to highlight 6 of the things to consider when planning that post Covid-19 golf trip.
Availability post Covid-19
Travel is currently banned from multiple destinations into Ireland and Scotland. As a result, many golf trips that had been due to arrive by the start of June 2021, have already been moved to 2022. Therefore, despite golf club diaries not yet open for the 2022 season, nor likely to be for some months to come, they are effectively heavily booked for next year. In Ireland, it is normal for some clubs, such as Royal Co. Down for example, to open their diaries in early May.
The majority of a “normal” years’ tee times will be booked out in a matter of hours, so it is likely there will be even fewer times available next year. This will be replicated at many golf clubs across the UK & Ireland. If some of these courses are on your bucket-list, we advise that you either plan now, or look towards 2023. The latter option may sound far-out, but it may have many advantages. You will likely have your pick of tee times and accommodations. The phrase “the early bird catches the worm” may never be more true. Getting ahead of the crowd as far as tee times is concerned is a must when compiling the perfect itinerary.
One other bonus is that for those of you thinking of making a dash across the pond as soon as it is permitted, the golf courses are in as good a conditions as they have ever been due to their lack of traffic. So if ever there was a time to get some of the best golf courses in the world in their prime, this is the year!
Rates & Prices
One of the upsides to the pandemic, if there is such a thing, is that rates have remained relatively flat, year-on-year. This is not unusual considering the global turmoil, but it will be interesting to see how long it lasts. There has never been a better time to book, in terms of value for money.
Furthermore, international currency rates have been reasonably static for the last 9 months, post Brexit and pandemic. At the time of writing the US Dollar is sitting around about €0.82c and £0.72p which is around the 5-year average. It may well be a good idea to consider locking in some deposits at the right time should fluctuations go in your favour. Furthermore, for those of you planning on travelling in 2023 or even beyond, consider a payment plan for your group to spread the cost.
As we all know, the airline industry has suffered badly during the pandemic. As a result, transatlantic rates are highly suppressed and at historically low levels. That won’t last forever, and if you do have a golf vacation to Ireland planned, you would be advised to plan your flights as far in advance as possible.
Most US based airlines will allow you to book approximately 330 days in advance of travel. If you are planning on using air-miles, some will extend that even further, to 365 days out. It is important to check with your airline however, as each operates slightly differently. There will be an inevitable spike in demand once borders open and governments relax their rules, so it is best to keep informed on the regulations in both your departure and arrival destinations.
The Old Course in St. Andrews
Some folks may be looking ahead to a bucket-list trip to Scotland, and a round at The Old Course in St. Andrews for their post Covid-19 golf trip. Well, who wouldn’t, but there are some things to bear in mind. First, so has everyone else! Every year sees demand far outstrip supply for an Old Course Tee Time by a multiple of hundreds, and we have just had two years where golfers couldn’t play there, so demand is off the charts.
Add to this the fact that the 150th edition of The Open is now being played in July of 2022, and you have a further complication. The Old Course will likely be closed from early June through to a week to ten days after the tournament. Furthermore, there is likely to be a period of time in advance of its closure where artificial mats will be mandatory in order to protect the St. Andrews turf. So, if you are keen on a tee time for 2022, availability is significantly curtailed, with demand at an all-time high. Our genuine recommendation: start planning now for 2023 and beyond.
With so much time on your hands to plan, why not consider building your post Covid-19 golf trip around a significant golf event. As we discussed above, the 150th Open Championship is in St. Andrews in July of 2022. This might be the perfect opportunity to play some of those other magnificent courses in Scotland that you’ve always dreamed of.
The 2023 Ryder Cup will be held at the Marco Simone Golf Club just outside of Rome. If you have not visited the eternal city, this might be your opportunity. Then, the 2027 edition of the tournament returns to Ireland at The Adare Manor Resort in Limerick. What a better event to build a golf vacation in Ireland or Northern Ireland around.
In addition to The 150th Open in St. Andrews, it is strongly rumoured that the tournament will make a return to Royal Portrush in the next 4 or 5 years, so a Northern Ireland golf trip might be the way to go, and tie both together.
The Solheim Cup will be played at the magnificent Finca Cortesin in Andalusia, Spain in 2023. This part of Spain is blessed with magnificent golf courses, beautiful landscapes and stunning beaches and weather, making a golf trip to this part of the world a real joy. A combination of golf, culture, sunshine and a great tournament is always a great option.
Planning the extra details post Covid-19
If you have time on your hands to prepare your golf trip, why not look at doing some extra planning. There are no excuses not to get your perfect itinerary in the bag, so why not take this time to plan accordingly. Might there be an option for an extra 18-holes on some of the days? Could you extend the trip by a few days either before or after to do some personal/business travel? What about making the group a little larger. Instead of your usual party of 8, what about bringing in an additional four ball or more, to add to the group dynamic? Have you thought about shipping your golf clubs ahead? All of these options are open to you and achievable with some time and planning.
As always, the team here at The Consummate Pro are here to help you navigate the multitude of challenges and options when planning a post Covid-19 golf trip, or golf vacation to Ireland or Scotland. Take a look here at why you should choose us to plan your golf trip, and why not take a look at our Tours Section which gives you an idea of some sample vacations.