We love golf. Sometimes we might even love it a bit too much, like the child who hugs a teddy bear so tightly that the head pops off. We discuss, debate and sometimes even argue the merits of everything golf-related — from designers and architecture to wildly varying lists of the best (and worst) golf holes, courses, resorts and destinations.
For me, this business has been nearly two decades of discovering, exploring, analyzing and promoting the world of golf travel through publications, websites and podcasts — and pretty much every media in between. And while the life of a travel journalist can seem glamorous when we’re traversing the planet’s lavish landscapes, few truly understand that it’s also quite risky, both personally and financially, for those who dedicate their careers to churning out content for the masses. It’s why I doff my woolen cap to anyone willing to put their livelihoods and reputations on the line to dive into the publishing business — print, online or otherwise.
It’s also why, when I met a golf-crazed sports journalist and tech-head named Ryan Ballengee three years ago, I admired the online platform he was building — and the simple fact that he was building much of it all on his own, through trial and error, just as my former publishing partner, Vic Williams, and I had done with the award-winning Fairways + Greens Magazine back in the early 2000s. For a number of years, Williams and I had a pretty good run with that little magazine. We grew it from local (Reno-Tahoe) to regional (the American West), eventually finding its way into mailboxes and onto newsstands across the country as we completed our transition to become GolfGetaways, a publication focused exclusively on content designed for traveling golfers.
When we powered down the computers on our final print issue back in 2014, a piece of me wondered if my golf-travel career had seen its best fairways. I was hopeful we could embrace new technologies — web, apps, social — to keep the GolfGetaways brand relevant, but I was in no way prepared for the level of work that goes into building a multi-content web platform entirely from scratch. After a lifetime in print, understanding the back end of digital publishing felt like relearning the golf swing all over again, but left-handed this time around. So after more than a few false starts, I partnered with actor-comedian-all-around-good-guy Mitch Laurance on what is now known as the “Talking GolfGetaways” podcast — 126 episodes strong at the beginning of 2019.
ONE FATEFUL ROUND OF GOLF
But that podcast might never have reached 125-plus episodes (or even 25 or 50) had it not been for a day in Myrtle Beach when Mitch hooked up with Ryan Ballengee for a casual round at True Blue Golf Club. It was a day that sparked an idea: “Instead of trying to build our own platform, wouldn’t it make a lot more sense if we simply provide golf-travel content for the already-established, and growing, Golf News Net?” Turns out, that mind-meld of experience made a lot of sense — for all of us. So Mitch and I brought “Talking GolfGetaways” to GNN along with the work and talents of our small GolfGetaways team — Midwest-based travel writer Eric “MobileGolfer” Hart and Utah-based “golf photographer extraordinaire” Brian Oar.
All of that brings us to the Now. And why you’ve landed upon this new Golf Trip Experts website we’ve branded as GolfTripX.com. Over the past three years, Golf News Net has seen significant year-over-year growth to the point where we, as a team, started brainstorming expansion plans. And the most logical solution was to give our growing catalogue of golf-travel content its own home — a website where we could highlight the courses, resorts and people who make up the destination golf and standout everyday courses that capture our imagination.
Why the “X” you ask? At its most basic level, the X is our “Experts” shorthand. But it’s much more than that. Sometimes the X is for Experience — the heart and sum of any great golf course visit or getaway. Other times, it simply stands for the variety of X-factors that make up the golfer’s life beyond courses and resorts — everything from essays about architecture, industry insights or musings on the game itself to the non-golf activities that elevate travel destinations.
A WEBSITE BUILT WITH YOU IN MIND
We hope you’ll use GolfTripX as a resource. We’re working to inform, entertain and inspire golf travelers, as well as provide you with a portal to dream about bucket-list vacations, uncover hidden gems, book buddy trips and custom golf packages, dive into golf-porn photo galleries, and even find ideas for family getaways with a golfing twist.
Between Ryan, myself, Eric, Mitch and Brian, we’ve experienced, written about, talked about and photographed our fair share of golf’s greatest playgrounds. And we want GolfTripX to be a place where everyone can share the best that golf travel has to offer. Not only will you find existing content migrated from Golf News Net, but we’ll also reach back into the archives of Fairways + Greens and GolfGetaways magazines to update some of our favorite stories from the past decade and beyond. And, of course, we’ll be updating the site frequently with a variety of new podcasts, standalone stories, multimedia pages and special projects.
Throughout the process, we’ve tried to build GolfTripX with the reader in mind. We’ve streamlined the experience so you can get to the stories you want to read without extraneous bells and whistles. And we’ve also limited the advertising environment in an effort to balance our need to generate revenue with keeping you reading and viewing instead of “jumping” hurdles and clearing popups in each story — especially on smaller mobile devices where so much of our reading is done these days.
We’re also working to build GolfTripX with the “average golfer” in mind. Sure, we love the megaresorts and exciting excursions as much as anyone, but that’s not where the majority of us play each day, week or month. It’s our goal to search out and spotlight more community golf hotspots such as New Mexico’s Rockwind Community Links, Central California’s Ridge Creek and Florida’s Winter Park 9, among others. And we want you to speak up — frequently — to make the case for your favorite “Golf Course You Wish Everyone Knew About.”
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM GOLFERS
Along the way, we hope you’ll bear with us throughout the growing pains, understanding that we’re just getting started and bound to make a mistake or two (or more) in our infancy. Your feedback is always welcome on our @GolfTripExperts social-media accounts, and we’ll do our best to correct errors and address customer-service issues. And we also welcome writers who are passionate about golf and the playgrounds on which we play the game. If you seek an online home to amplify your unique opinions and perspectives as part of the GolfTripX team, contact us via the Team page with any ideas you might have for contributing to our growing platform.
So now I find myself back in the editor’s chair — a seat to which I never expected to return. The rush of excitement in launching a new(ish) venture such as this reminds me of the opening tee shot at Tobacco Road, my favorite Mike Strantz-designed course: We can’t quite see where we’ll land, but there’s a big fairway out there, and if we make our best swing, we’ll be rewarded.
Thank you in advance for reading and listening and contributing — and supporting our efforts in this new chapter of highlighting the best in golf and travel.
GolfTripX managing editor