4 tips to make your dream golf escape come true in 2023

Tetherow Golf Club in Bend, Ore.

Tetherow Golf Club in Bend, Ore.

Brian Oar

Ready for a spring golf trip? Of course you are, and our spring trips package has you covered. Through the next week, our experts will name their top destinations, value spots, favorite resorts and more for spring getaways, all with the goal to educate — and motivate — you for your next trip. So read up, grab your family, tell your friends and book your next unforgettable golf trip right now.

MORE: 9 places you should play golf this spring | 10 golf resorts to visit this spring | 8 budget-friendly spring golf destinations

There are two kinds of golfers: those in the middle of a dream-golf trip, and those dreaming of being in the middle of a dream-golf trip. If you fall into the second camp and want to make your fantasy escape come true in 2023, keep these key pointers in mind. The demand is currently higher than the supply, but that doesn’t mean you can’t swing it.

1. Book your travel early (but not too early)

Like a hacker’s scorecard, the price of plane tickets and hotel rooms can fluctuate wildly, which makes getting the best rates an imprecise science. Timing matters. One travel-industry survey found that airfares tend to stay the same between 320 and 106 days ahead of travel and start dropping after that. It can pay to wait — but not till the last minute, as prices often soar at the 11th hour. Plus, if you sit on your hands too long, desired flights and accommodations sell out. If peace of mind is what you value most, it’s worth booking sooner rather than later, with the grudging understanding that prices might drop after you’ve paid.

2. Adjust your overseas expectations

Would you like to play the Old Course? Congratulations. So would pretty much everyone else. In a post-pandemic world, pent-up demand has put tee times at a premium at marquee courses across the pond, according to Gordon Dalgleish, president of the golf-travel company PerryGolf. The most sought-after courses in the UK and Ireland may still have a slot or two available in 2023, “but the ability to create and enjoy a cohesive trip over six to eight days on multiple courses is extremely difficult and unlikely at this stage,” he says. Which doesn’t mean you can’t go at all. Those same countries are loaded with terrific courses that don’t always make the covers of glossy magazines. Name a headline layout. Odds are there’s a quieter alternative nearby. Can’t get on the Old Course? Try its sister track, the Jubilee. Tee sheet at Royal Troon is booked solid? Western Gailes is 15 minutes up the road. No go at Royal Liverpool? Consider Hankley Common Golf Club. You get the picture. Sleepers abound, and many still have room for you.

La Cantera Golf Club in San Antonio, Texas.
La Cantera Golf Club in San Antonio, Texas. Brian Oar

3. Don’t go to sleep on the States

Here in the U.S., similar laws of supply and demand apply. “Most travelers are booking their golf vacations earlier than ever,” says Bill Hogan, business development manager for golf-travel company Pioneer Golf. The most popular destinations can be difficult gets, Hogan says, with “just bits and pieces here or there for twosomes or very small groups.” But it never hurts to call. Cancellations happen, and some A-list destinations still have some primo openings. At Streamsong, for instance, some 2023 availability remains for the Clubhouse Experience — the resort’s most exclusive buddies’ package. If you’re looking to play TPC Sawgrass immediately after the Players Championship, Pioneer Golf can still arrange that. A call to Pinehurst, Sand Valley or Kohler costs you nothing, so it doesn’t hurt to try. Even when every room is booked at Bandon Dunes, spaces often remain on the tee sheet, meaning you can play the courses. You’ll just need to find a place to stay in town. The point is, it’s worth checking around. If your schedule has some wiggle room and you can swing a trip in the shoulder seasons as opposed to prime time, more options start to open. “Golf travelers have to be flexible [this] year and not make any assumptions based on previous years’ expectations,” Hogan says.

4. Expand your horizons

For the golf industry, jam-packed tee sheets are a good problem to have. Another upside of the post-pandemic market, Hogan says, “is the ‘new’ destinations that are being ‘discovered’” by seasoned travelers from eastern Oregon to central Texas and beyond. Tetherow. Sunriver. La Cantera. Omni Barton Creek. The list could take up pages. Do some digging. Golf is an adventure. Consider lighting off to a place you’ve never been before.


Josh Sens

Golf.com Editor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.