Playing Golf Overseas: Tips and Tricks from recent experience

August 30, 2011

My recent review of the New Delhi Golf Club inspired me to put these ideas together for our readers.

One thing we appreciate more than most here at the PowerFade is a good deal.  If you are thinking about teeing it up abroad, the following tips are for you.  Note:  I strongly advise you to take a little time to plan your foreign links adventure with someone who has done a similar trip to the one that you envision for yourself.  They are usually the best sources for local knowledge and may even have connections to get you onto a nice private course you would otherwise never get a chance to play (maybe even for free!).

Let’s assume you’ve already picked out your course(s), or are simply relying on good fortune to land a tee time when you get there.  Let’s consider packing for this trip.  The first question you need to answer is whether you are going to be taking your clubs with you.  To this point, unless you KNOW you will be happy with the rental clubs provided by the course(s), I STRONGLY suggest bringing your own clubs.  The point cannot be made strongly enough.  Your own clubs will make the round exponentially more enjoyable than a set of cheap, worn, and generally dilapidated clubs that are available for hire at most (even very nice) courses abroad.  If you need any further reading on this subject, please refer to the review of the Delhi Golf Course.

While most of us in the US are used to Southwest Airlines (bags fly free – including golf clubs), this is NOT the case with respect to nearly every international flight.  Some carriers will allow you two bags (and may charge extra if one contains clubs) or may even be so stingy as to only allow one bag.  Lufthansa, for example, only allowed me one checked bag on a recent trip and was requesting $70 for a second!  (absurd).  Assuming you make the correct decision to bring your own clubs, you should really have no issue with enjoyment of the round due to equipment.

If you choose not to bring your own clubs, then do your best to pack the following: shoes, clothes, socks, balls, gloves, tees, range finder, and any other on course necessity.  While these things can take up a large amount of space even in your checked baggage, the premiums that most international clubs charge for these items makes the larger checked bag worth it.  For example, during my recent trip, a standard FootJoy golf glove cost Rs. 900 or about $20 U.S., while a sleeve of Pro V1X’s ran around Rs. 810 or $17.50.  While these prices don’t sound too far off from U.S. club prices, keep in mind the greens fee at this highly exclusive club was a mere Rs. 1500 ($32), and Rs. 400 ($8.70) is enough to feed a fully grown man for roughly 3 days.  All in all, I paid about Rs. 1000 more in assorted fees (shoe hire, club hire, caddie, etc) than I did for my actual round because I neglected to pack these essentials.

Also, with respect to local custom, it’s a good idea to find out from local caddies if the pro shop is the best place to get equipment (if you’re in a pinch).  It was only after paying Rs. 810 at the pro shop did I learn that the caddies carry balls with them that they sell for about Rs. 50 each.  At highly exclusive clubs, it’s not difficult to imagine the quality of balls they tend to find.

Additionally, be sure to get to the club extra early whenever you are playing abroad.  Customs in different countries vary widely, so being prepared is always the best plan.  I was told that my round would begin “after 12:30” and arrived accordingly.  I teed off at 2:30pm.  If nothing else, you get chance to soak in the local differences that make the international game a little more interesting.  Also, be sure to bring official record of your handicap.  It’s a good idea to keep this on you generally for playing tournaments, but international clubs tend to be sticklers for this information before letting you tee it up.

Finally, be sure to check local rules for details such as required dress for men and women.  While these things are more trivial in the U.S., these details can create problems in other countries that either result in your not being allowed to play without purchasing clothing from the clubhouse, or at the very least, an embarrassed host to the club that is not likely to pass a favorable recommendation the next time.  Calling the clubhouse and talking to the pro shop will generally resolve these issues.

As always, enjoy the links!

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