With many long-awaited golf trips being canceled or postponed during these unusual times, and with many courses and destinations beginning to re-open in some form, “Talking GolfGetaways” podcast hosts Darin Bunch and Mitch Laurance decided to revisit an interesting debate about golf, travel and, most importantly, money. Sifting through numerous responses to their recent social-media query — “How expensive is too expensive for golf and travel?” — the two spend an interesting hour (and a half?) revealing a wide range of answers and dollars spent while discussing what makes or breaks the bank for golfers of all financial shapes and sizes.
Answers fall into different categories — from charity events to group trips, from pure golf getaways to golf as part of a larger vacation experience — and, expectedly, range from a low of about $200 for a round (numerous responders) to the winner in the “Most Expensive” category: $17,500 for a charity round at iconic Pine Valley Golf Club. With the variety of responses and fees involved, Darin and Mitch not only share various destinations and amounts paid but also talk about the important question of “Would You Do It Again?” (Spoiler Alert: the overarching theme is a “yes” from many.) But more importantly, no matter the money spent on a round or a complete trip, the most important aspect — and reason to go back — is almost always based on the total experience of the trip or destination, not simply the course (or courses) played.
As expected, the list of course and destinations discussed runs the gamut of well-known bucket-listers: the aforementioned Pine Valley, plus Sleepy Hollow, Kiawah Ocean Course, Kapalua Plantation, Palmetto (during Masters week), Riviera, Erin Hills, international favorites such as Cape Kidnappers (New Zealand) and Adare Manor (Ireland).
Laurance and Bunch discuss the overwhelming positive response for Streamsong, plus the most often referenced destination when it comes to pricing comparison (and example of value): Bandon Dunes Golf Resort on the coast of Oregon to which followers continue to flock based on the totality of the experience and exceptional service (in addition to the obvious draw of five — soon to be six — spectacular golf courses).
And they dive into the “poster boy” of expensive golf in the United States: Pebble Beach, with polarizing responses from golfers on what is arguably America’s most iconic golf resort. What becomes apparent is that money is a relative commodity — and that those who are able to pay for a trip are happy to do so, provided the ultimate experience makes that trip memorable.
Mitch and Darin then dive into various options are for pricing a destination trip, why we’re all fortunate that golf offers a wide variety of options and pricing, and finish the podcast recounting their own personal experiences of the most expensive trips they’ve taken and courses they’ve played. You’ll find out why Mitch has been lucky over the course of his acting and golf media career to have been able to enjoy some of the great courses and trips available for very little (or no) money, and why Darin was willing to spend an outrageous wad of cash on a weekend with his wife Jill at the fabulous Post Ranch Inn on the California coast.
Above all, we hope this episode will get you back to dreaming — about golf and travel and planning your next memorable adventure, which is always a wonderful thing.
—Words by Mitch Laurance