Good To GreatJune 20, 2018

7 sneaky ways to upgrade your golf trip

There are the obvious keys to a great golf trip, and then there are the elements you might not consider, some of which aren’t even that costly. With a little bit of foresight and creativity, there’s an opportunity to turn your next getaway into an all-time classic.

Hire a driver

Depending on how spread out your itinerary is, investing in someone else to ferry you around has real benefits. This is especially true abroad, when you’re left to navigate unfamiliar driving conditions and higher alcohol-concentrated beer. But even in the U.S., hiring a van or a small bus with a driver eliminates the stress of having to stay awake for the whole trip, or having to teetotal, and it puts the onus on someone other than you to get everyone out of bed at 6 am and on the road. It sounds cost prohibitive, but broken down among eight or 12 of you, it’s money well spent.

Request caddies beforehand

The opposite of traveling every day to play a new course is hunkering down at one resort for an extended period. Here we not only recommend requesting caddies beforehand, but trying to lock down the same one for the week. Especially when you treat them well, caddies tend to forge a bond with their player over the course of a given round, and it only strengthens when it extends over several days. They start to understand your game, know the shots you can and can’t execute, and become more invested in the ongoing competition than even you. You might not play like a tour pro, but meeting the same caddie at the course each day will at least make you feel like one for a little while.

Related: 18 things to know before planning a trip to Bandon Dunes

Invest in your own trip merch

There is an element of legitimacy that accompanies an outing with its own logo. Whether it’s ordering some pre-stamped balls or hats, or even designing team uniforms (yeah, we actually did that one year), the logo is less about the trip itself, and more about the memories that will linger long after you’ve returned home. There are countless ways to have your logo monogrammed, and when it comes to designing one, you can either turn to a professional, or even take a shot at one yourself. It’s really the thought that counts.

Embrace the live leaderboard

We are assuming—or at least hoping—that your trip involves some type of running competition, because even a running tally of double bogeys is more fun when there’s something larger at stake. If your trip consists of more than one foursome, there are ways to keep tabs of what else is transpiring on the course, be it through formal online services that track your score, or even a simple group text.It doesn’t really matter how the information is delivered so long as you can stand over every six-footer knowing what’s on the line.

Mix in alternative formats

Playing 36-a-day for five days straight sounds like fun until you’ve got blisters the size of golf balls on your hands and feet by Day 3. To avoid that, but still spend nearly the same amount of time on the course, try mixing in a par-3 course in the afternoon or playing a round of alternate shot, preferably on a course you’re not playing for the first time. The change of pace will keep you fresher — and could even wind up being a surprising highlight of your trip.

Consider short- and long-term prizes

There’s nothing better than competing for one ultimate prize throughout your golf trip. For us, it’s a faded, tattered green jacket bought at a thrift store 20 years ago that gets presented, carefully, to the winner following the final round. But we also have payouts on a nightly basis for singles matches, team matches, skins, and even stats. Getting cash in hand is a nice feeling, especially when you’ve already shot yourself out of green jacket contention.

Get a room on the course

This isn’t always a possibility, but seize the opportunity when it presents itself. And make sure it's a room on the ground floor. Why? Two words: chipping contests. After a long day of golf, you just can’t beat more golf, especially when you’ve already mixed yourself an Arnold Palmer John Daly (or two). So grab your lob wedge with your other hand, slide the porch door open and walk out on the course in your bare feet for a few side bets with your buddies as the sun goes down. Good times.