First published in Business Day – February 2020
Modern golfers, even if those from much earlier vintages, no longer need rely on a travel agent when planning a golf trip and the primary resource will be the internet.
However, going on-line, even if you are from the ‘APP’ and social media generation, can be daunting.
A recent Google search, showed the following: ‘Golf travel’: +/- 183 000 000 results (0,51 seconds) ‘Golf courses’: +/- 5 750 000 results (0,67 seconds).
In a digital sea of information, too much of which is redundant, it can become a problem trying to source what you need on line.
In booking several flights recently, I reverted to using a travel agent. This admittedly antediluvian approach puts a booking in the hands of a real person, who will then take on the slog and frustrations that can come with finding the best deal and booking.
Human involvement also provides an extra sense of insurance, against some service levels in the booking environment.
During 2018, a major EU ferry company’s online reservation system could not correlate my trans-channel booking with sending the email confirmation to my .co.za address.
The solution required a friend’s UK email address to receive the e-ticket, which was printed and got to me by hand after my arrival in the UK.
In the same year, a regional airline here took 29 days to respond to an online request for business class seats to London.
A listing is FOC for golf clubs on GolfVistaSA, while in tandem with Destination Golf Travel, which offers a shop window for this region’s golf to over 560 000 international subscribers and users, the sites can remove much of the finger numbing uncertainty from planning the next golf vacation.
Both websites have information about golf venues and destinations: DG Travel covers the international markets, while GolfVistaSA provides golf information on South Africa.
Together they showcase complementary service providers such as hotels, B&B’s, restaurants, things to do and places of interest, which will all be in proximity to the selected course, and presented within an easy to use framework.
Using the sites in tandem, the itinerant golfer will have a comprehensive overview of selected courses and access to the support elements needed to complete a trip.
All of this means that a golfer no longer needs to sneak over the back fence just before dawn, so as not to wake up the entire household.
The range of information available allows for the inclusion of the family and booking an overnight stay, long weekend or a longer vacation that includes something for everyone.
While this is great news for the individual golfer, the sites are also a very effective shop window for golf estates and golf clubs.
Combining the various elements ensures that the golf courses are not seen in isolation, but in concert with other attractions that their area has to offer.
Golf travel, as a niche in South Africa within the tourism sector, has very strong growth potential. For the travelling golfer, these services make finding out more about, or booking at, some of SA’s marvellous venues such as Pecanwood Golf & Lifestyle Estate or Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club, much easier.
Pecanwood Golf and Lifestyle Estate
Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club
Both of these clubs are visionary in management terms, early adopters with both DG Travel and GolfVistaSA and pathfinders with golf travel initiatives and in demonstrating the types of activities, travel products and calls to action that all golf clubs will need to activate to benefit from golf tourism.
These types of initiatives have included setting up an in-house travel desk at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington, to working in collaboration with other royal golf clubs on a Royals’ Tour. The latter ‘call to action’ reflects the need to both showcase the facilities, but also to offer a defined product which golf tourists can use to access the region.
Pecanwood is positioned as the ‘Gateway to the Northwest’, but also offers access to the rest of SA with its proximity to Lanseria Airport. It is also using a similar call to action with the Jack Nicklaus Designed courses tours, and this itinerary will include the wonderful golf courses at Pearl Valley and St Francis Links.
Pearl Valley Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course
St Francis Links
As a template, both the tours offer the visitor a chance to see multiple regions and offer extensive non-golfer programmes. This last element supports a core them, which is to promote the region to golfers as an ideal destination for family vacations.
Teamwork is an alien concept to golf, which is a highly individual sport. However, with clubs working together and supported by information sites such as GolfVistaSA and DG Travel (www.destinationgolf.travel), the whole experience of booking a golf trip, whatever the intended duration, should soon feel no more challenging than hitting a downwind drive, from an elevated tee to a very wide fairway.
John Cockayne – Golf Editor.
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Business Day feature – Better Travel Options for Golfers and Golf Clubs.
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