Golf Vacation Travel

Your Picks for Golf’s Greatest Off-Course Experiences


The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is one of the memorable off-course experiences in Northern Ireland

The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is one of the memorable off-course experiences in Northern Ireland.

Last week I shared 14 of “Golf’s Greatest Off-Course Experiences” and asked for your help in getting us to 18.

All I can say is, “Wow.”

And, “Thank You.”

More than 50 great ideas came pouring in from you and your fellow, well-traveled readers.

Here’s a short list of the best experiences; those I either left out…or didn’t even know about (plus the full list of 65+ ideas if you want to see everything).

Attend the PGA Merchandise Show (submitted by Gary S.)
“Chum up with a buddy in the biz and attend the PGA Merchandise Show in Florida every year…Looks like a weeklong session to get golf juices flowing.”

True, unless you work in the golf business, you can’t simply register for this incredible, annual event (held at the end of January), but attendees can purchase a day pass for you for $100….and it’s totally worth it.

Visit the Heritage of Golf Museum (submitted by Fourball)
“A visit to Archie Baird’s museum next to Gullane [Golf Club in Scotland] is worth the trip. We were fortunate to spend a few hours with him and his pooch. His stories are wonderful.”

While his museum is open only by appointment, Archie Baird is one of the friendliest and most accommodating people you will ever meet. His historic photos, artifacts and memorabilia trace golf’s development from 1400 after it arrived in Scotland from Holland.

Coach or Attend a First Tee Program (submitted by Craig M.)
“Even if just for a day. It reminds you of when you fell in love with golf and to see some of these kids who would have no access to golf but for First Tee is life/attitude changing.”

The First Tee has programs running in all 50 U.S. states (and four other countries) and there are many ways to get involved, including by donating money, equipment, or as Craig M., suggests above, simply your time.

Visit the Bushmills Distillery, Etc. (submitted by JG, Steve H. and Scott S.)
“In Northern Ireland take a bike ride along the Antrim Coast starting at the dunes at Portstewart Golf Club and ending at the Bushmills Distillery. Stop along the way at the harbor in Portrush, Dunluce Castle, Portballintrae Harbour, the Giants Causeway, and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge before ending at the Bushmills Distillery for a tour and a tasting. You need to double back to get to Bushmills, but if you stop along the way you will never get to the rope bridge. As a recommendation, when the guide at Bushmills asks for volunteers, jump at the opportunity. Difficult to pass the Royal Portrush Golf Club and not stop in, but that will be for another day.”

Visit the Old Sport Gallery and Bookshop (submitted by Walter M., Jr.)
“When in Pinehurst N.C., be sure to visit Tom Stewart’s “Old Sport Gallery and Bookshop”
in the Market Square in the village – you will not be sorry.”

Indeed, Mr. Stewart (who played professionally around the world) has been called, “the Lord Mayor of Golftown,” and his shop — “part art gallery, bookshop, and memorabilia museum” befits this lofty title.

Click here to see my original 14 experiences and all 50+ ideas submitted by readers…or leave a comment below you like to add your own!


  1. chuck cantillon

    February 27, 2014 at 11:17 am

    visit ” lonnies karaoke bar “-printers ally, Nashville, tn….also consider a tunica ms golf
    vacation. right now there are 3 courses tunica national and cottonwood are great course…riverbend is a little behind, but very playable. there are 2 more under construction.

  2. Harrison Hine

    February 27, 2014 at 11:47 am

    Take in the Wellington Sevens World Championship
    “While on a three week tour of New Zealand’s finest golf courses (we played 16 courses) we attended the Rugby Sevens World Championship in Wellington. All I can say it was the best sporting experience ever! There were 34,996 rabid rugby fans in a full range of exotic costumes and then there were the four of us in Golf Clothes. One guy came up to me and asked me if I was dressed up to be like Tiger Woods. It was see and bee seen, drink beer, have fun, and “OH BY THE WAY THERE IS A GAME GOING ON.” Of course the home “ALL BLACKS” won the title but it was an energy like we have never experienced and we have been to Super Bowls and BCS Championship games.

  3. Spanky McShameous

    February 27, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Off road jeep track at The Greenbrier is tremendous….then skeet shoot and / or fly fish later on….plenty to keep the ladies busy too…

  4. Steve Pearson

    February 27, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Sit in front of the Turnberry Hotel sipping a wee dram of single malt while listening to the piper. If you can’t make it to Scotland ,Spanish Bay provides a good alternative.

  5. Steve Pearson

    February 27, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Read “Final Rounds” and “A Course Called Ireland”. The first will make you cry with sorrow.The second will make you cry from laughter.

  6. Steve Pearson

    February 27, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Sit on a bench behind the 18th at the Old Course and watch golfers finish. It’s particularly fun when the Royal and Ancient is having a members competition. Some of the old timers hit bump and run shots that are amazing.

    Watch the gloaming from Ben’s Porch at the Sand Hills Golf Club in Mullen,Nebraska.

  7. Randolph

    March 2, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Sip the best Bloody Mary you’ll ever have while watching the sunset over Grand Traverse Bay in northern Michigan from the veranda of Arcadia Bluffs, closest course to Scotland east of the Mississippi River in the USA

  8. Paul in albany

    March 14, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    I plan on having a great nonplaying golf experience On april 7 when I walk the grounds of the Augusta National. It has been a life long dream. I agree with Steve about Final Rounds, or anything by James Dodson for that matter. I also highly recommend reading Follow the Wind!

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