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Played Internationally? Tell your stories!


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For those who've travelled internationally to play (and lets be sure to include our non-US members here: traveling to the US to play counts): talk about your experiences! How did you go about planning and booking your golf? What arrangements did you make for shipping your clubs? What worked and what didn't, and what tips would you give for someone looking to book a future overseas golf trip?

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I've played a few courses outside Germany, but the distance driven was probably the same as when you go from one state to another in the US lol

When it comes to air travel, I've taken my clubs to Costa Rica and to Taiwan. My tickets included one free oversized baggage, so I just took a travel bag, stuffed with clothes and a PVC T to protect the driver. Things arrived in one piece, no extra charges, so pretty positive experience.

All planning and booking were done locally after arrival, easier for me, since I got family there and can remain flexible.

I would say my biggest concern is having the airline lose or damage my clubs. I've read horror stories and most of them end up with no compensation. Perhaps your credit card company includes insurance for such cases? I've played with rented clubs and it was no fun. So I think I'll still risk taking my own babies with me, so they don't get lonely at home.

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This is a fantastic topic!
I'll do a quick rundown on two of my trips. Sorry not so quick....
The first was January 2019, I was assigned a event in a tiny tourist town of Naseby New Zealand. When I found out I was going to have a couple extra days I hopped on here and made a thread asking to see if there was anyone here who had any recommendations which got me in touch with @Nunfa0. Although he lives about 6 hours drive away from where I was going to be, when you're flying across the world and can meet up with someone with common interests it was well worth it. He gave me a list of courses that he recommended and we planned out days that would work. From there I picked a course that interested in Christchurch and we also played at his home track. Pegasus was a awesome course that had a good amount of variation was in good condition and a great finish to the trip. Templeton was his home track (we were kind of entered into a tournament) which was very different to Pegasus, but in a good way. Was more treelined and just a great course to play. Before I met up with him to play those two rounds, I played 1 other round in the town where the event was being held (9 holes) and it was on the honor system, just walk up drop your money in a box and go play (more on this later) it was fun and so HOT... summer in NZ is no joke. Finally I also checked out a course in Queenstown, if you check out my gallery there are some photos from there. This course was hilly as all get out and tough for a first time around. That being said it was so much fun and the staff were very friendly. I couldn't tell you what I shot as the views were awesome at all of them and was just so much fun. Nunfa0 also has awesome food recommendations and craft beer selections, for those of you who get the honor of going to NZ and Christchurch be sure to give him a shout for some recommendations.

Second trip was not long after in August of 2019. I was newly single and wanted a get away. I had been offered work for another event in the same town in NZ and decided to tack on Australia to my trip. I did 1 week in Cairns, I picked Cairns for the great barrier reef and it came highly recommended by the travel agent I used. Plus there were several courses close by. I rented a car (remember they drive on the wrong side there) and had a hostel booked (6 nights $85US for the whole time with breakfast) and simply emailed the courses I wanted to play before the trip and booked my rounds through them, they were all very accommodating and happy to have visitors playing. In Australia I played Cairns golf course and Half Moon Bay, both fun and challenging courses with lots of bunkers and a few crocodiles swimming around. I then flew to Aukland (North Island NZ) and had to drive down to Naseby (South Island).

Here is where it gets interesting.... I had two things planned when I landed. My rental car and a morning I was going to meet up with Nunfa0 at a links style course called Waimari on whatever day it was. Other then that nothing. Admittedly not a way to travel for all, but my plan was I would drive the east coastal road and if I found or saw a course I would stop and try and play. It was winter so most the courses were all honour system, no staff, just park/pay/play. I tried to get onto Cape Kidnappers, but the timing didn't work 😞 Instead I managed to find 2 courses in the North Island and I honestly don't remember what they were called. Price was $15 for each and I played the 18 in about 2 hours. I also squeezed in 14 or so holes at a mountain goat track in Wellington which is the single most hilly course ever. Seriously ever.  Waimari with Nunfa0 was awesome, early morning round some good shots and good company and beer after. Then I hit the road again and did the same thing, drive find a course play, keep driving get tired book a Air BnB and repeat. This was for about a week then I had to work for 10 days. Finally to finish off the trip I played Arrowtown Golf course just outside of Queenstown which to date is a top 3 course for me. No bunkers on the entire course and the whole thing cut naturally into the land which made for some really weird but fun holes that make you think creatively. Highly recommend! Sadly that was it I had to fly home. In the end it was another 7 courses in NZ and 2 in Australia. 

Last story I promise. As soon as I found out I was going a second time I wanted to go to Tara Iti. My dream course and I found there was a way via NLU to get on. I went through all the steps, emailed, had my home course write a recommendation letter and I was accepted to play! I would have just been able to fit it in, however then the price came. You have to stay on site, which makes sense its remote. I don't remember the entire breakdown, but it would have come out to $4000 for 2 rounds of golf with a caddie and 1 night with no food or drinks included. It truly is a once in a lifetime experience as if you do this route you are not ever allowed to play again unless you magically get a membership which you need to well be rich and somehow get a invite. Even still I couldn't quite justify it and I kinda wish I had, but maybe another time? 

Okay that's it sorry for being so long... but wow what a few trips and cannot wait to read others experiences. 

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 ⛳🛄 as of April 15, 2022

SuperSpeed 2020 from 100-112 and climbing!

Driver:   :callaway-small: Mavrik Sub Zero - Set at 9.5* with Aldila Rogue Max 65 gram 

Wood:    :cobra-small: F7 3 wood 14.5* w/ weight back

               :ping-small: G410 Crossover - 2 and 4 iron

Irons:     :ping-small: i210 5-U w/ Nippon Modus 105 stiff (2018 Tester)

Wedge:  :ping-small: Glide 2.0 54* 58* w/ Nippon Modus 105 Stiff

Putter:   :odyssey-small: Stroke Lab 7 35* and oversized grip (2019 Tester)

Balls:      :srixon-small: Z Star

Other:     :Arccos: 

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@Apolloshowl now that is what I call well planned lol

I guess when I don't have to worry about transportation or lodging, it's easier to just wing it and see what tee times are available...

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:callaway-small: X2 Hot 3 Deep 14.5* w/ Aldila Tour Green 75 S
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The easiest way (for me) was to join the military and have them send you all over the world so you can play golf.  I've been blessed to play some nice courses all over the world, but one that was not so nice was also the only one I've had a caddie for, and that was in Africa at Lusaka Golf Club in Lusaka, Zambia.  It wasn't in the greatest of conditions, and I had to use rental clubs, but it was cool to say that I golfed in Zambia.

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1 hour ago, Kanoito said:

@Apolloshowl now that is what I call well planned lol

I guess when I don't have to worry about transportation or lodging, it's easier to just wing it and see what tee times are available...

I was lucky it was off season so nearly all were open, just drop in. One round I played with the president and a couple other board members which was great fun and they were able to go through a lot of the history of the course. My way of travel is not for everyone, I don't mind not having a plan or just seeing how things go. I had clubs, car and phone for gps so was able to find some really unique and cool spots along the way.

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 ⛳🛄 as of April 15, 2022

SuperSpeed 2020 from 100-112 and climbing!

Driver:   :callaway-small: Mavrik Sub Zero - Set at 9.5* with Aldila Rogue Max 65 gram 

Wood:    :cobra-small: F7 3 wood 14.5* w/ weight back

               :ping-small: G410 Crossover - 2 and 4 iron

Irons:     :ping-small: i210 5-U w/ Nippon Modus 105 stiff (2018 Tester)

Wedge:  :ping-small: Glide 2.0 54* 58* w/ Nippon Modus 105 Stiff

Putter:   :odyssey-small: Stroke Lab 7 35* and oversized grip (2019 Tester)

Balls:      :srixon-small: Z Star

Other:     :Arccos: 

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I don’t have much to offer as to making travel arrangements since I was a guest for this trip, but it was a golfer’s dream trip so I’ll share a little. I had the privilege of traveling to Scotland in the summer of 2016. Because I live in Detroit, it was actually significantly less expensive to fly out of Windsor, CA via Air Canada Rouge (the budget vacation line of the Air Canada family). No frills flying (no refreshments, no video, etc.), but way cheaper.

Arrived in Edinburgh on a Monday morning. Traveled to our hotel in St. Andrews (the Old Course Hotel), then we played 18 at The Duke’s Course as a late add-on to the trip and to avoid just sitting around in jet lag condition. Only round that we rode carts and least memorable, mainly because of flying through the night just prior to playing.

On Tuesday we played the King’s and Queen’s course at Gleneagles. The 2014 Ryder Cup was played here, but on the PGA Centenary Course. The old courses provide an incredible pastoral setting and I really enjoyed these two courses. I beautiful walk through the countryside with some incredible views of the castle along the way. 

Wednesday we played 36 at Kingsbarns Golf Links and it was absolutely gorgeous. It is cut right along the coast so that you can see the shoreline from every hole. If you’ve played or seen Chambers Bay, it’s similar in that regard. Two of the guys I was with have either played or walked Pebble Beach and they rank Kingsbarns at or over that. All I know is that it was a great course and I would love to play it again.

Thursday brought the brutal Carnoustie for 36 holes. These were my highest scores of the trip. The week after we played Carnoustie was hosting the Senior Open Championship, so that may account for some of the toughness. I did birdie Hogan’s Allie, so that was a high point. My playing partners said they would not want to play it again, but part of me would love to give another whack at it. The contrast to Glenneagles (hills) and Kingsbarns (coastal views) was pretty drastic. The second round took all most six hours so it was a very long day. Still would like to try it again.

Friday was the big day—St. Andrews. We played the New Course in the morning. It was rainy for much of it, so I didn’t come away with the greatest impression of the course. That, BTW, was just about our only rain of all the days we played. The Old Course was in the afternoon. It was incredible and oddly ideal weather for golf nuts—starting in rain, middle holes were in very strong winds, and then we finished in beautiful weather. Evening sun as we headed down the road hole and toward the 18th. One of the highlights of the trip was bombing a draw right past the Old Course Hotel and into the fairway on the road hole. Hard to describe how cool that was. I know the line I chose for the drive (which was right of my caddie’s advice), but everyone else in the group gasped when it left the tee, then celebrated as it slowly bent leftward as it glided by the hotel. I put a picture from the tee area (not me). A golf highlight.

Saturday and Sunday we attended The Open Championship at Royal Troon (Stenson’s victory). Loved watching it with very knowledgeable Scottish fans. No Bubba Booeys or Get in the Hole shouts! And we got to follow Phil and Stenson on Sunday for a good bit of the round. Pretty awesome.

The last two rounds were Monday at Turnberry. Another gorgeous course. Beautiful sunny day. All of the locals we talked to were thrilled with the renovations that the Trump team did to the course. I really enjoyed playing it. And the hotel was incredible.

All told, it was just an incredible trip across the board. Great time with the guys. Incredible golf courses. If you are a golf nut, like I am, it was the perfect trip. If walking 36 holes a day isn’t your deal, I’d recommend playing the same courses, but only once. I am sure the way we did it was on the high side of cost, but it was good to have locked tee times and folks making sure everything runs smoothly. Having a travel group run interference for you really lets you keep your focus on golf.

I came away hoping I get to go back again some day. I’d play all the same courses, but also would enjoy seeing some of the other famous ones. Heading to Pebble at the beginning of June so maybe I’ll circle back with my own comparison to Kingsbarns.

 

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Played at the White Witch golf course in Montego Bay Jamaica the course was awesome, This was booked with the trip as a free round of golf with the package so we jumped on it, really simple we just had to call a head to get a tee time like a day in advance and the hotel shuttled us to and from the place. Since it was a vacation trip and not a golf trip we called a head to make sure there will be rental clubs available which is probably pretty common but we all knew we wouldn't be bringing the clubs. Suppose to go back next year and will most likely bring my clubs.  

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  • 2 months later...

A big Servus from Bavaria in Germany!

I worked (and still do a bit, if Covid allows more traveling again) as a golf writer and was very lucky to play quite a lot of courses all over the world. These are my highlights so far: 

  • St. Andrews (Old Course) in Scotland 
  • Old Head in Irleand
  • Royal Porthcawl in Wales
  • Royal Portrush and Royal Belfast in Northern Ireland
  • Oitavos in Portugal
  • Valderrama in Spain
  • Bogogno (Bonora und Del Conte) and Castiglion del Bosco in Italy
  • Grand Saint Emilionnais and Le Kemperhof in France
  • Vasatorp (Tournament Course), Falsterbo and Barsebäck in Sweden
  • Pebble Beach, Streamsong Red and TPC Sawgrass in the US
  • The Links @ Fancourt and Pearl Valley in South Africa
  • Nirwana Golf in Bali
  • Rio Olympic Course in Brasil
  • Cabot Links in Canada
  • Barnbougle (Dunes und Lost Farm) in Tasmania
  • Kingston Heath and Royal Melbourne in Australia
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  • 8 months later...
On 5/5/2021 at 10:49 AM, GolfSpy MPR said:

For those who've travelled internationally to play (and lets be sure to include our non-US members here: traveling to the US to play counts): talk about your experiences! How did you go about planning and booking your golf? What arrangements did you make for shipping your clubs? What worked and what didn't, and what tips would you give for someone looking to book a future overseas golf trip?

I am trying to arrange playing in Kenya when we go there later this year.  I will have an initial day to spare before the actual family trip begins.  It says they have public rates so I'm hoping this means I can get a round in, at either Karen Country Club, or Muthaiga Country Club both in Nairobi.  Both have hosted the DP Tour Magical Kenya Open.  Fingers Crossed!

Driver: Cobra King Speedzone

Irons:  :callaway-small: Mavrik 4-GW

Wedges:  :cleveland-small: CG-14 56 & RTX 52

Putter:  :ping-small: Scottsdale Wolverine

Woods:  Gigagolf  3W, 2H, 3H

Ball:  :bridgestone-small: E12 Soft Yellow 

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I have been fortunate enough to play quite a bit internationally and my best tip is to use credit card points to cover the cost of flights and hotels so you can splurge on the golf.

  • Using the signup bonus from just one or two credit cards, you fly in business or first class to Europe for just taxes and fees (usually <$200) while getting a good nights sleep in a lay-flat seat!
  • When you fly using points/miles, your bags are typically free so you don't need to worry about shipping your clubs.

My most memorable flight was between Abu Dhabi and NYC where I flew in an Etihad first class suite which includes a bed and shower (yes, a shower on an airplane).  My total cost for this flight was 115k American Airlines miles + $62 in taxes (for a flight that would cost over $10k cash).  

IMG_2554.jpg.e774b31d348e2a4e85124c0be4ee3414.jpg

While in UAE, I was able to play Yas Links, Saadiyat Beach, and Jumeirah Golf Estates (home of European Tour Championship), in part because of the money I saved on the flights.  

IMG_1016.jpg.1034d546626afc56ce194f36eca1b28d.jpg

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I've been fortunate enough to play golf in many parts of the world.   Arrangements to play ranged from spur of the moment decision to play, having local friends getting tee times and planning ahead with resorts or golf companies.  I've always carried my clubs with my Club Glove travel bag, which has to be close to 20 years old.  It's had more frequent flyer miles than many people.  I've never had a problem having them lost in the black hole of baggage handling or had clubs broken.  The one thing I did to help protect the clubs is add a broom handle 1/2 inch longer than the driver to help against head on collisions.  To help protect your golf investment, make sure you invest in a quality travel bag.  Saying that, I've recently decided to rent clubs if I'm playing just once.  Somehow, the trouble of carrying the clubs through the traveling process or the expense of shipping clubs doesn't seem quite worth it.  

Some of the unique experiences include the following:

On our Aruba honeymoon in the early 80's we found out that they had a nine-hole golf course.  Seems that the oil refinery executives wanted to have a course.  After the refinery closed, there was really no one to maintain it.  What made it unique was it had oiled sand greens where each hole included a heavy roller to compact the oiled sand between the pin and your ball.   It also had owls nesting in the fairway traps and goats roamed the course.  One more experience that made the honeymoon special.  

One of my favorite trips was visiting friends in Singapore.  We played twice in Singapore, once in Indonesia (ferry ride across the Singapore Strait to Binton), once in Maylasia and once in Phuket, Thailand.  The one course in Singapore had a golf bag conveyor system that transported your bag along the course and up and over hazards.  They gave you a clicker that would start and stop the bag on the conveyor. It was a less stressful way of walking the course.  It was interesting crossing a bridge, doing immigration and customs in the car just to play golf in Maylasia for the day.  In Phuket, I was amazed at a female caddy who was maybe five foot tall and couldn't weight 80 pounds dressed in a full cotton white boiler suit (like the Masters) who double bagged my friend and I in the pouring rain.  In the end, her suit had to weigh as much as she did.  

Likely the most impressive international golf trip was to Ireland and playing Old Head (within its first year of opening) and Ballybunion (one of the oldest courses in Ireland) back-to-back.   

An interesting experience was going to a multi-level driving range in Japan.  I've traveled to Japan several times and had an evening free.  I noticed a driving range just down the road and thought I'd give it a try.  It was interesting looking at all the golfers up and down the line decked out in expensive golf clothes, perfect golf shoes and full sets of premium golf clubs knowing that most would likely play only a few times a year (given the expense of playing there). 

One of the strangest golf experiences (without playing) was in the late 1970's on a trip to Seoul, South Korea.  I was giving a technical talk to engineers at Lucky Goldstar (which is now LG).  After the talk one of the young engineers came up to me and asked if I played golf?  He continues to say he picked up the game in the US during his overseas college days.  Once he returned to Seoul, he joined a club and continued playing.  At one point of the conversation, he said it was late in the day and he had to go and string wires across their fairways.  Looking a little puzzled I asked why?  He responded that the long, straight fairways made excellent landing strips for a North Korean invasion.  Luckily, most of us do not have those same concerns.

I hope to add to my list in July when we play Gullane # 2 and 3, outside of Edinbough, Scotland.

Ping G400 SFT with a Matrix MFS 5 Korean Prototype Senior shaft, 12 degrees
Callaway Epic Flash 15 degree 3 wood, with a stock Project X Evenflow 40 grams senior shaft.  
Calloway Epic GBB Epic 20 degree Heaven Wood, with a stock Diamana 40 gram senior shaft
Ping G 20.5 degree 7 wood, with a stock Alta 65 gram senior shaft
Ping G hybrid 5 (26 degrees) with stock Alta 70 gram senior shafts.
Ping G30 irons 6-W, Yellow dot with graphite Fujikura EXS 60i R2-Flex shafts
Edison wedges:  50 degrees, 55 degrees and 60 degrees, 2 degrees up with KBS Tour Graphite A flex shafts
Putters:  New Evnroll ER10 Outback
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