Lots of reasons to give a 'fore' thought
Dan Fitzpatrick of Worldwide Golf Vacations in Reading, which sells golf packages for about 120 resorts, has seen a downturn in business this year.
“It’s all based on how customers perceive the economic climate,’’ Fitzpatrick said. “People have to feel confident about making the investment in their health and well-being by taking a golf vacation.’’
Fitzpatrick also said that the resorts his company works with are less likely to discount rates than they are to add value, by offering daily breakfast or unlimited golf.
But there are savings to be had, from traditional golf hotbeds such as Myrtle Beach, S.C., to marquee resorts.
Why Pinehurst, a resort in the Sandhills region of North Carolina? The USGA thinks enough of Pinehurst that the 2014 men’s Open will mark its third time hosting the event in 15 years. No course has been awarded three Opens in such proximity in more than a century.
USGA executive director David Fay has described it this way: “The United States may not have a St. Andrews, but Pinehurst is the closest thing to St. Andrews [the sport’s birthplace] we have in terms of the history of the game. The whole place just exudes golf.’’
Since it is not a private club, anyone can stay and play at Pinehurst, where eight courses beckon, including four by Donald Ross, who considered the No. 2 course the masterpiece of his more than 400 designs. Ross lived at Pinehurst and tinkered with the layout for decades.
Pinehurst is offering what it calls the Back 2 Back package from Sept. 9-Nov. 7. Golfers will receive two rounds on the No. 2 course, a third round on another Pinehurst course, two nights’ stay, and breakfast and dinner daily. The package starts at $1,265, and those who book a midweek stay receive a $300 resort gift card per room.
Pinehurst also offers the Summer Tee package through Sept. 8, which includes three nights’ stay, four rounds of golf, breakfast and dinner daily, plus afternoon tea, and use of bicycles, pools, beach club, and fitness center, starting at $864. The No. 2 course carries a $175 surcharge on this package. Children age 12 and under stay and eat free with a paying adult, and children 17 and under play golf for free with a paying adult, except No. 2, where a $215 fee applies. www.pinehurst.com, 800-487-4653.
Resort guests can take advantage of a discounted afternoon rate - and leave their clubs at home. It costs $99 between noon and 2:30, and $69 after 2:30 to play either course. The rate includes a cart and rental clubs and is available to two guests per room per day.
The resort also offers unlimited golf and family golf deals. www.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com, 808-886-1234 or 1-800-HILTONS (445-8667).
The Fairmont Scottsdale offers the Practice to Pamper package, a combination of indulgence and instruction to help lower the handicap. Women take a two-hour lesson at TPC Scottsdale’s Tour Academy, followed by a 60-minute golf performance massage at Fairmont Scottsdale’s spa, Willow Stream. The package, including accommodations, starts at $489 per person and is available year-round. www.fairmont.com/scottsdale, 866-540-4495.
Through Sept. 30, the Sunsational package offers unlimited golf for each night of stay and accommodations in a three-bedroom villa for as low as $119 per person. Along with its 54 holes of golf, Reunion Resort features a nature preserve, Annika Sorenstam’s golf academy, a boutique spa, pools, water playgrounds, and a lazy river. It’s also just 6 miles from Walt Disney World. www.reunionresort.com, call 888-418-9611.
The courses include Nairn Golf Club in Scotland, which is one of the top 25 courses in Britain and has an opening stretch of holes along the coastline; and Glen Arbour Golf Course in Nova Scotia, which features lots of elevation changes and tricky greens.
Fares start at $4,745 per person, double-occupancy, and golf excursions start at $339 per person. The trip can be taken back-to-back with an Aug. 23, round-trip London golf cruise, which offers play in six British Isles ports, for the ultimate golf vacation. 888-799-4625, www.crystalcruises.com.
Also at “The Beach,’’ those looking to tweak their swing can spend a day at the Steve Dresser Golf Academy, which has two of South Carolina’s top six teachers in a recent Golf Digest ranking. The one-day weekday class includes four hours of instruction, a take-home video analysis, a round of golf on either of the well-regarded on-site courses (Caledonia and True Blue), plus lunch, for $199. 800-397-2678, www.dressergolf.com.
Ron Driscoll can be reached at email@example.com.