Golf Article

Help the Economy - Play More Golf!

Help The Economy – Play More Golf!

By Peter Hellman

Classic GOLF Tours


Economists and our "wise me" in Washington have told us that one of the major causes of our current economic malaise is "spending".  The problem, they say, is not that government is spending too much, but that we (you and me) aren't spending enough. 


Well, if you have golf balls enough to spend some of your horded cash, here are some more ideas (refer to last month's article for other ideas) that will not only help the economy, but place you and your over-sized driver on some of the best golf courses in the world.


We have all read about banks and other financial institutions rewarding employees or customers by entertaining them at fancy golf resorts while accepting government bail out funds.  Along with huge bonus for top executives, these expensive corporate golf outings have been shamed into virtually disappearance.  The Ritz-Carlton resort at Half Moon Bay in California, for example, reports that over 30 corporate groups have canceled since last fall.  Goldman Sachs recently canceled its annual hedge fund conference scheduled for March at the Turnberry Isle resort in Florida and Wells Fargo, though defending employee recognition stays at fancy golf resorts with full-page ads, canceled virtually all of these events. 


What does this mean to you?  Other than expressing yourself as "being mad as hell", you may want to consider the opportunities these cancellations may provide.  An airline seat has no value after the airplane leaves the gate.  This is also true for hotel rooms.  There is no revenue on yesterday's room there is only cost.  Therefore, a resort or hotel has plenty of incentive to get at least some revenue on a room that might otherwise go empty.  One strategy hotels use to sell these unsold room nights is to discount the rack price of the room.  They might also offer, free nights or upgrades, free dinners, discounted green fees or other amenities.   Check it out.  You may be surprised at the savings.


I have written before about 2009 being the year for international golf travel.  I mentioned the strengthening dollar, reduction in VAT tax rates and the impact of fewer American travelers on prices of green fees, accommodations, rental cars and airfares.  Fewer travelers also mean that there are more available tee times on the most popular courses and greater room selection at the best hotels and guest houses. 


As an example, I just finished building an itinerary for some clients to Northern Ireland.  In years past, it would have been virtually impossible to get prime or any tee times in July at this late date (March).  Not only is the group playing Royal Portrush (ranked 5th in the British Isles and 13th in the world), Portstewart and Ballyliffin on the days and times they wished for, they are playing Royal County Down (ranked 1st in the British Isles and 2nd in the world) on a Sunday at a time generally reserved for members.   We also had no problem reserving rooms at Bushmills Inn, my personal favorite and just down the road from Royal Portrush Golf Club and the famous Bushmills Distillery.  In years past, Bushmills Inn would have been sold out for the summer by this time of year.   Now here is the frosting on this cake.  In the summer of 2008, this trip would have been about 35% more expensive than it is this year.  Is my client happy?  You bet!


As we get closer to the summer season, golf courses and hotels are revaluating prices and offerings.  Many of our Irish and Scottish vendors have revised their prices or enhanced their offerings for this summer and fall.  Though there are plenty of good deals in Scotland, Ireland is where you will find the best ones.  Ballybunion Old (ranked 10th in the British Isles), for example, offers a free round on the Cashen course with an Old course round.  At nearby Tralee Golf Club (a Palmer designed course ranked 47th in the British Isles), you can get two rounds for the price of one and you can play any time within a seven day period.  Carton House, located just 14 miles west of Dublin and Winner of the European Golf Destination of the year 2008, just dropped their prices 25% for 2009.  A two-night package for two including full daily breakfast, one dinner and a round of golf on one of their two fine courses is just $170 per person.  This is deluxe and an unbeatable value.


Another client is saving so much on his trip to Ireland, that he decided to treat his non-golfing wife, who will still have loads of fun experiencing Ireland, to a 6-day transatlantic crossing from England to New York on the Queen Mary 2.  Their cabin costs less than $1,000 per person.  As you can see, discounts go beyond golf this year.


In conclusion, whether you decide to stay within the USA or travel to Canada, the Caribbean, Argentina, Mexico, Spain, England, Scotland or Ireland, great deals await you.  Be patriotic and help our economy.  It is really quite simple.  All you have to do is spend!