Golfers have an itch to travel. Why and where they're going

A Longitudes Group golf travel study and marketplace report reveals that 90% of the respondents have planned at least one golf trip for the remainder of 2023

Golfers with means and opportunities have greeted the ease of pandemic restrictions by enthusiastically traveling to play the game.  And they plan to take even more golf trips in the future, according to a golf travel study and marketplace report conducted and published by Longitudes Group of Portland, Oregon.

Golf was one of the unanticipated beneficiaries of the stay-at-home nature of the pandemic and participation numbers shot up impressively from 2020-22. However, golf travel was the one category hurt the most as golfers were compelled to play close to home due to safety restrictions on airlines, hotels, resorts and other accommodations.

But when travel was considered safe again, golfers got the green light and hit the road. In fact, as of May, 47% of the survey’s respondents have traveled for golf in the past six months, and 31% in the past 12 months.

The 2023 Golf Travel Report surveyed 411 traveling golfers who had either taken one or more golf trips during the past year or were planning a trip in 2023. A full 90% of the respondents planned at least one golf trip the remainder of this year, while 29% will have taken three or more trips.

The Southeast region, made up of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, is the most popular area of the country for future golf travelers, according to a golf travel study and marketplace report conducted by Longitudes Group. Pictured is Primland Resort is located in Meadows of Dan, Virginia.

The most popular area of the country among the respondents for future travel is the Southeast coast, comprised of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia — tagged by 46% of the respondents. The choice is driven due to the temperate climate much of the year, easy access from the eastern megalopolis metros like New York and Washington D.C. and the number of quality golf courses along the coasts of the four states.

Placing second (42%) was Arizona's Phoenix-Scottsdale area, particularly as a winter destination. That area has a concentration of top-tier resort and daily-fee golf, while the restaurant choices, shopping and night life of Scottsdale continually receives high marks among visitors.

Perhaps looking for a cooler summertime getaway, 39% of the respondents chose the Pacific Northwest for a future golf trip — considered for purposes of the survey to be Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. The longtime golf travel stalwart, Florida was picked by 37% of those surveyed. “The surprise to me is that Winter has fallen to the bottom of the four seasons for golf getaways. Fall, which used to be a shoulder season, is now the No. 1 favorite at 64% followed by Summer at 61%.”

BUY: Longitudes Group 2023 Golf Travel Report

Most respondents seem to know where they want to go, without doing much — or any — research on destinations in which they might be interested. As 63% of golf travelers plan their trips three to 12 months in advance, 58% use the website of the golf course or resort as their only research. And almost 25% of respondents don’t do any research at all, presumably acting on their own past experience or the recommendation of friends.

Traveling abroad is popular among respondents; about one-third took overseas golf trips this year. Most of that group visited Scotland (41%) and Ireland (30%).  Among those looking toward the future, 60% have Scotland and 59% picked Ireland at the top of their wish lists.

Nearly all respondents are upbeat about their golf travel plans. Middle and higher earners have seen their incomes remain strong post-pandemic, which coincides with an increase in willingness to spend on golf travel.

The survey indicates that 44% of respondents plan to spend more on golf travel in 2023 than they did the previous year — with 12% planning to spend “significantly more”. Female golfers, who often in control of household finances, are twice as likely to budget $10,000 or more on a golf themed trip than men. About one-third of the entire group surveyed say they will spend about the same.

Of course, much of the decision-making about golf travel will be tied to the condition of the country’s economy. More than half (51%) of respondents say they are “cautiously optimistic,” while only 5% are “financially confident.”

No matter the budget, golfers' primary determinant is their passion for challenging their skills on new courses and seeking escape via a fun, golf adventure.

Note: Longitudes Group is part of the research division of Buffalo Groupe, which owns and publishes The First Call.