Avoiding WinterAvoiding Winter's Madness
By J. Peter Hellman, President Classic GOLF Tours
Days shorter, leaves turning and soon to drop, anticipating winter's bone chill. Hurry! Go play. Warm days are soon gone. Use what skills you gained this summer and pray you won't lose them over the freezing golf-less months ahead. Oh sure, there will be a few short days when the temperature rises into the 50's and the snow slowly melts for a while. So, bundled up and venture out to your favorite course, drive your ball down a brown, geese pooped fairway to a frozen lumpy green and say to yourself as did Peggy Lee in her song, "Is That All There Is"?
Well, my golfing friends don't despair, there is more. A world of golf awaits and all you have to do is find it and I'm here to help. I'll share with you places I have visited during winters past to find green fairways, speedy greens and warm sun. Perhaps you will get ideas for your own escape.
Southern USA: There is no question that Florida, Arizona and the deserts of California can give you some of what you seek. The advantages of these locales is that they are not far away, getting there is fairly inexpensive and even driving is an option. The disadvantages are that everyone else has the same idea, prices are at high season rates and because it is still winter, the days are short, often cold with unpredictable weather and frost delays. I haven't even mentioned one of my pet peeves – over-seeding of fairways and greens.
But, if time and budget allow, here are three ideas of places to go where Spring is just starting, Summer is our winter, Fall is our spring and water drains counter-clockwise in toilets and sinks – it's the Southern Hemisphere.
Argentina: What can I say? I love this place. It's scenic, huge, inexpensive, sophisticated, has cowboys (called gauchos), grass fed beef and great wine. And, it has a long golf tradition thanks to English railroad engineers who came here in the late 19th century to build the nations rail system. You will swear that you are in England or Scotland when you arrive at some of the golf clubs around Buenos Aires such as San Andres (Spanish for St. Andrews) and the Jockey Club. Like other foreign destinations, Argentina suffers a weak currency (the Peso) and your dollar gets you 11% more spending power this year than last. You might even want to slip over the border to Brazil (you will need a visa) where your buying power is up 50% this year.
New Zealand: This has to be one of the world's friendliest countries and they even speak English – with an accent of course. I am not kidding when I say it's a long flight to Auckland, the capital and major city, but if you have 10 to 14 days for travel, New Zealand is a super place for golf. Both the North and South Islands are festoon with great wineries, stunning mountains, endless beaches and some of the top golf courses in the world. And, though I would not call New Zealand inexpensive, your dollar still gets you $1.60 New Zealand dollars, 23% more than last year. I recommend New Zealand as a great couples' destination because there is so much to do and share. Even a non-golfing spouse will be happy here and would not forgive you if you went golfing without her/him.
South Africa: Speaking of a great couple's destination, add South Africa to the list. The reason? Well, first of all, there is great golf. I played seven top courses on a visit two years ago and barely scratch the surface of what is available. To get the best experience, I played courses from just outside Kruger National Park in the north, to courses south of Elizabeth Town, north of Cape Town and around Cape Town. This vast country is both geographically and ethnically diverse and has wild life only seen in zoos. The accommodations are first class and so is the wine. But, you don't go all the way to South Africa just to play golf. Whether it is the massive Kruger National Park or one of the many private game reserves, a safari stay has to be part of your South African experience. A couple of days in Cape Town is also a must. Like New Zealand, you need to commit to 10 to 14 days as the flight is long. South Africa is also a bargain. Not only are price low, you get about 13.50 rands to the dollar and that's almost 17% lower than last year.
Naturally, there are other fine place to find pleasant weather, green grass, great values, splendid accommodations and world class golf this winter, but these are a few you may want to consider. Call me at 303.874.7134 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I will share my experiences with you so that you can make up your mind about your winter escape. Fight "winter madness"- play golf in shorts.