What on earth made you book that golf holiday?

A number of news releases dropped into the Global Golfer inbox in the past two weeks and switched on the lightbulb for this blog post.

We all love to play golf.

You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t love golf and travelling to play it.

But how do you decide where you are going to go? And whether it’s worth the money and the effort to get there.

What is it that seals the deal for you when you are choosing a golf holiday?

Ever since the earliest days of man gathering around a fire and sharing news, word of mouth has been the greatest marketing tool on earth.

Nowadays we’ve swapped a tribe for a social network, a camp fire for an iphone and face-to-face for digital and virtual. So does this rule still stand up?

Do you still walk into the pro-shop and say to your Pro: “Hey, Jim, if you were going to go anywhere on a golf holiday where would it be”?

And, if Jim came back to you with a suggestion, would you still go and look it up and maybe even act on it and book that golf trip with your wife or buddies?

And then an hour later, after you have warmed up on the range, would you quiz your fourball playing partners for tips on where they played golf on holiday lately and whether they’d go again?

Or, would you pull out that smartphone or tablet and hit Trip Advisor for an average rating on the hotel and golf course in Turkey that Jim said was amazing.

Or, would you request a brochure on the hotel’s website or even visit a golf travel company webpage offering a video guide to the resort.

One of Europe’s biggest golf tour operators, www.golfbreaks.com, has just launched a series of video guides to the resorts and destinations to which it sells packages.

Another big player Your Golf Travel, uses social media networks like Twitter to post links to interesting features, course reviews and Top-Ten guides.

Even with its social media savvy, Your Golf Travel was still traditional enough to promote the launch of its new 2012 Brochure.

Yes, that’s right, a brochure with pages, ink and pictures and phone numbers for a person you can actually speak to and who’ll tell you things about where you might be going.

There’s plenty of “noise” out there to influence our decisions but does it come down to bigger more worthy things like reputation, history and heritage.

The older, the better, right?

That way, you are never going to choose Donald Trump’s new course in Aberdeen over the Old Course at St Andrews. It’s the Home of Golf – there is nowhere else to even consider.

The Swilken Bridge at The Old Course St Andrews
The Swilken Bridge at The Old Course St Andrews by David J Whyte

Maybe you like to discover new places rather than walk down familiar paths.

Maybe you want to be a trailblazer rather than one of the herd, and play somewhere as yet undiscovered.

I read something once about Nick Faldo and how he liked to take time off and visit the most remote and far flung courses in theBritish Isles and play them with a friend or on his own.

The more remote the better, if he had to put a £5 in an honesty box he was happy.

Thinking of Nick doing this makes you realise this is a hard question to answer.

Maybe it’s all down to the individual, but for the majority the safe ground is usually the tried and tested, which perhaps explains the enduring popularity of Spain and Portugal for the British and Scotland and Ireland for the American Market.

No doubt about it, we golfers are a traditional lot.

And so are we really impressed by this new digital world?

I hope so, I edit an online Golf Travel Magazine for heaven’s sake – but what I really want to know is what is it that makes you book your golf break?

If you have a few minutes spare, I’d love to see you spark up this discussion in the Global Golfer Forum, or in the comment thread below.

I know what the golf travel industry says is the most important.

In a recent survey of UK golfers revealed at the IGTM (International Golf Travel Market) in Belek,Turkey last year, research showed that 70% of golfers said “Word of Mouth” or “Friend’s Recommendations,” were still the most important factor in choosing a golf holiday.

 Do you know what came next?

  • Golf magazines 43%
  • Golf Pro recommendations 42%
  • Online Blogs and Course Reviews 35%

It seems then that even in this age of technology, we still like to gather in the bar or the pro-shop and share our opinions, especially when it comes to something as important as booking a golf trip.

It may not always be this way – and I’d like to hear what you think about these trends and whether digital or social can ever really exchange the “camp fire” mentality in the way we communicate?

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