Major Basil Haversham O.B.E. Contributing iGTN Editor. If you are reading this, then the chances are that you are considering a golf tour with a group of selected golf buddies. Obviously, we strongly believe no other golf travel resource can present you with an expedition which compares, in quality or value, with one designed and organized by Haversham & Baker Golfing Expeditions
Our golfing expeditions offer comprehensive service, including everything from tee times to dining reservations, to shopping advice and sightseeing arrangements.
We will be happy to custom prepare a golf vacation specific to your unique aspirations, needs, and desires.
So, here are some suggestions on how to avoid wasting your time and money whilst making your golf tour to Scotland, Ireland, England, Wales, Spain, or Portugal an experience with memories that last a lifetime.
1) Choose your traveling companions carefully. You will be traveling together for a week or more so all of you need to wear well on one another. Nothing can enhance your golf travel experience more than sharing it with good friends and nothing can detract from it more than spending every day with a contentious person. If a guy doesn’t always get along well with the Saturday foursome, leave him behind. He will be absolutely unbearable by the end of the week overseas.
2) Everyone in your group should have similar budgets and interests. Your golf travel experience will be diminished if you have to make numerous compromises over how much golf to play, where to stay, where to eat, what to do off the golf course and so forth.
3) Plan a guys’ trip, a gals’ trip or a couples’ trip, but not a combination of singles and couples. Admit it: most guys behave differently on guys’ trips than they do on couples’ trips. And, single guys usually don’t mix well with couples on the road. If you plan a couples’ trip, decide whether your group is going to be golfers only or a mixture of golfers and tourists. Keep in mind that the best golf and the best touring are not always near one another. For itineraries to appeal equally well to both golfers and tours, both sides may need to make compromises.
4) Try to recruit at least 8 compatible travelers so you can easily afford to be chauffeured about by one of our Haversham & Baker driver/escorts. Nothing adds more to the golf travel experience than being attended constantly by someone who knows the local territory intimately. With 8 travelers, there is a modest premium for a driver over a self-drive; with 12 travelers, there is no premium at all.
5) Pick the destination that best matches the experience you seek. No country or region within a country is uniformly better than all others for all people under all circumstances. Numerous destinations offer wonderful combinations of golf courses, lodging, touring and other features. For those golfers who want to play all the “top 100” courses, for example, nine are in England; eight in Scotland; six in Ireland; and, three in Spain & Portugal. As the Irish say, “It’s different horses for different courses.” Your best choices depend upon the kind of travel experience your group seeks.
Our golf travel planners can match your needs and expectations with the myriad of options available. After more than a decade of listening to what thousands of our travelers liked-and didn’t like-about the various destinations, we’ve amassed considerable knowledge about what works and what doesn’t.
6) If you want to experience the history and traditions of the game, then there is no better choice than Scotland. Confine your golf to seaside links courses if you want a unique golfing experience. Despite labels to the contrary, there are no true links courses in the States. True links exist only in Scotland, Ireland, England & Wales.
7) If you want to play several excellent golf courses without driving very far or changing hotels much, consider the Lancashire Coast of England, the Ayrshire coast or St. Andrews areas of Scotland, Dublin, south Wales, Costa del Sol of Spain or the Algarve in Portugal. Some of the best combinations of great golf and great touring are St. Andrews, Edinburgh and the Highlands in Scotland; Dublin and the southwest of Ireland; suburban London and Kent on the Channel Coast of England; southern Wales; the Costa del Sol of Spain; and the Sintra area near Lisbon, Portugal.
8) Very special events or experiences not to be missed include the golf day at Muirfield, Sunningdale or Valderrama; the evening bagpiper at Turnberry; a traditional banquet on your final night in Scotland; and, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
9) The most spectacular scenery: driving the Ring of Kerry to and from Waterville Golf Links in Ireland; driving along the Caledonian Canal from Loch Lomond to Loch Ness in Scotland; Ireland’s Old Head or Tralee courses on a clear day; and the view from the first tee at Portstewart, the seventh tee at Gullane #1, the ninth tee at Cruden Bay or the eleventh green at Valderrama.
10) Choose the best time to go. Travel anytime from early April through late October in Scotland, Ireland, England & Wales; anytime from early October to late April in Spain & Portugal.
11) Establish as wide a travel window with your traveling party as possible before you start making specific travel plans and reservations. Many of the courses you will want to play are private clubs that are closed to visitors at various times throughout the year. Some of the most exclusive hotels and inns are quite small. The wider your travel window, the less likely you will miss one of your desired courses or hotels.
12) Match the length of your stay with what you want to do. Don’t diminish your travel experience by trying to accomplish too much in too little time. It’s a vacation, not a death march! Because of the travel time between golfing regions, for example, it takes a minimum of seven or eight nights in the country to play the top five or six courses in Scotland, Ireland or England. Stay as long as possible but no less than six nights in- country. It is simply not worth putting up with the rigors of transatlantic travel and jet lag for a three or four-day stay. Besides, the longer you stay, the more you can see and the more leisurely you can travel.
13) The old saying, “You get what you pay for” is especially true in overseas golf travel. The advertised prices for seven-night packages of lodging, greens fees, ground transportation and some meals (but not airfare) range from around $2000 to more than $5000. If you buy one of the cheapest packages, you’ll stay in the worst rooms in dumpy hotels without private baths and you’ll never play the most famous courses. Because our clients stay in the better rooms in the better hotels in each locale and play the most exclusive courses, our packages generally price at the upper end of the cost range.
14) Begin planning as early as possible. The earlier you begin planning your golf trip, the more likely you will be able to reserve all the hotels, golf, touring and other arrangements that meet your expectations precisely. (Exclusive courses like St. Andrews, Muirfield and Ballybunion must be reserved at least a year in advance.) But if you cannot plan that far in advance, don’t despair. We have the contacts needed to provide you with a marvelous travel experience planned only weeks before your departure.
15) Choose an experienced, reputable golf tour operator, like Haversham & Baker, of course, to make your arrangements. An overseas golf travel package is a myriad of details that must be selected wisely and assembled seamlessly for you to make the most of your limited time in the country.
For instance, did you know?
a) You should play Tralee in the early afternoon so you can have dinner at the marvelous Oyster Tavern before you return to your hotel
b) You can play the courses in the Scottish Highlands without a lot of extra driving if you fly into the Inverness airport
c) Placing yourself in Dornoch on the weekend gives you the opportunity to see the weekly performance of the local pipe band
d) Booking early morning tee times that are reserved for only two golfers lets you play more golf in less time
e) Northern Ireland and western Scotland is a great combination when you take the Hovercraft ferry across the Irish Sea
f) Dinner at the Witchery is the perfect prelude to the renowned Edinburgh Military Tattoo
g) You can avoid a long, boring bus ride across Ireland by taking the train (complete with bar car) from Dublin to Killarney
Of course you didn’t know that. You’re not the expert. The sad thing is that many who purport to be overseas golf travel experts don’t know the important details either.
16) So the most important tip is: contact Haversham & Baker Golfing Expeditions. We are purveyors of the finest golf travel experiences to Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Wales, and England. Why the finest? Your arrangements will be custom-planned to your precise requirements from the widest array of choices by the most knowledgeable golf travel planners in the industry. You’ll receive unlimited consultation and service from your first conversation until long after your expedition is over.
The result? You and your golf buddies will enjoy a golf vacation experience with memories that last a lifetime.
Haversham & Baker Golfing Expeditions
7356 Wooster Pike
Cincinnati, OH 45227
Phone: 800 U TEE OFF (883-3633)
Local Phone: 513-561-1500