Travel mailbag: Is now the best time to book a bargain golf trip overseas?

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Is now the best time to book a bargain golf trip overseas?

In the United Kingdom last week, the numbers hit historic lows, and we don’t mean the scoring at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. We’re referring to the British pound, which bottomed out against the U.S. dollar. Though it has since rebounded slightly, the pound’s value is still down.

The drop has been good news for those on the right side of the currency markets. But what, if anything, does it mean for golfers? Is now the time to book a bargain trip across the pond? If only it were that simple.

Let’s start with the short term. The offseason is fast approaching. It begins in mid-October, bringing shorter days and iffy weather. A strong dollar can buy a lot of things, but it can’t prevent darkness or a frigid downpour. And last we checked, they don’t make rain gear out of greenbacks, either.

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In the low-demand months of late fall and winter, you’ve got a better chance of landing tee times, but even that is not a guarantee; some courses shut down to outside play in the offseason. The real risk, though, is getting washed out altogether at a time of year when the window to play is already small. The question becomes: do you want to roll the dice on what’s supposed to be a dream trip?

Which takes us into spring and summer of 2023. Longer days, higher likelihood of nice weather. The bigger issue becomes availability. In the wake of the pandemic, tee sheets are packed from pent-up demand.

“The premium courses in the British Isles maybe have a tee time or two still available scattered through the season,” says Gordon Dalgleish, president of PerryGolf, a leading golf-travel operator. “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 for 2023.”

That doesn’t mean a trip is entirely off-limits. You might just need to adjust your expectations and swap out certain headline courses for lesser knowns, many of which are nothing to sneeze at. The UK is brimming with memorable courses that don’t always make the cover of glossy magazines. Murcar, say, might not be as famous as Carnoustie, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be every bit as fun.

If you absolutely, positively insist on pegging it at certain marquee courses, the hard truth is that you might just have to wait. The first clubs will open their tee sheets in March 2023 for the 2024 season.

By then, of course, the exchange rate might not be as favorable. How much that matters to you is a separate question. PerryGolf, for one, guarantees its prices in U.S. dollars when you book, so your costs are unaffected by currency fluctuations. Dalgleish says that customers appreciate that certainty. But he also notes that dollar-to-pound comparisons are rarely a deciding factor for golfers planning a dream getaway. Such trips, he says, “are bucket-list experiences and not driven by saving a few dollars on the exchange rate.” On the flip side, the pound could skyrocket and — let’s be honest here — you’re probably going anyway.

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