Golf is a popular recreation activity for retirees and with many other age groups. Regardless of ability, it is one of those activities where pals can get together to play a round, get some exercise, have lunch and kibitz about their counting accuracy, chips, divots, slices and how many balls have been lost.
Historically, golf was a sport for the privileged that could afford private club memberships, travel the world to play the legendary golf resorts and schmooze with the sports legendary players. However, in the past 50-plus years, the popularity of the game has spread and resulted in the development of numerous new community, executive and championship courses across North America. The once weekend golfer is now an aficionado who hones skills at driving ranges and putting greens, has exchanged the weekly poker game for a round of golf and found the course the ideal place to do business, to pal around with friends and to rub elbows with the communitys movers and shakers. And, they follow the sport and dream of the day they too will tee off where champions play.
Golf is now being enjoyed by a large and diverse population, young and old, men and women, spanning all economic levels. And, the sport is energized with a new breed of celebrity golfer who is young and amiable. Tiger Woods leads the pack and is joined by other greats like O Meara, Mickelson, Singh and Weir, and in womens golf by Sorenstam, Park, Ochoa, Mallon, Kerr, and Hee-Won-Hav. These and other professionals have set new benchmarks for the sport. They have become popular advertising icons, spokespersons for charitable causes, sport fashion trendsetters and they are in touch with the amateur golf enthusiast.
Golf continues to be a growing industry with 16,057 golf courses located in the United States and 160 new facilities scheduled to open this year, most being public courses. Many Western retirement residential communities feature one or more golf courses as part of their amenities packages and, at the other end of the golf age spectrum, high-schools offer golf in their sports program.
Golf is no longer an at-home sport for the amateur as players are eager to find the opportunity to include this recreation activity in their vacation plans. Golf may be the main focus for some trips while at other times it will be a bonus activity added to an itinerary plan. Trip planners eager to tap into this market need to look only as far as the local golf course to find eager golfers who want to play the sport on vacation.
Where are the Golf Destinations?
With the popularity of golf and the abundance of courses, most destinations offer an opportunity to accommodate visiting golfers. When planning golf trips you will find distinctive differences in golf destinations and there are considerations to be taken with regard to climate conditions, budget and players desired experience. A key element found at most golf destinations is the availability of a selection of courses which compliment varied ability levels. Another factor is to differentiate between public, public-private and private courses that may or may not have reciprocal club privileges. Most all locations will offer professional services for lessons, have equipment for rent (when not traveling with ones own), offer special packages for groups and may or may not require carts. Here are some basic guidelines in identifying various golf destinations:
The best known golf destinations have built reputations as golf meccas and include places like Palm Springs (115 courses), Monterey (22 courses), Phoenix-Scottsdale (200 courses) and Tucson (27 courses). You find these destinations are the principal sites for major tournaments tours (PGA, LPGA, Skins, and Senior) and while many courses are connected with country clubs and resorts, most all are available for play to area visitors. There are also many other popular destinations that offer outstanding golf options but are often better known for their other tourism attractions. These include places like Las Vegas (57 courses), San Diego (90 courses) and Hawaii (80 courses), and they also are frequently included on the professional tour circuit.
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