Tee for one? Golf travel tips for the woman who dares to go it alone

Golfers usually travel in twos and fours, so it’s unusual to find a solo golf traveler, especially if the solo golf traveler happens to be a woman. If you’re game, here are golf travel tips to go.

Image of cocktail at Kapalua Plantation Course

I embarked alone for my June 2017 week in Maui, but the Maui Visitors & Convention Bureau sponsored the trip and so every day my golf course hosts had lined up fun, interesting partners for me to play with. Yet I learned that it is neither unheard of nor scandalous for a woman golfer to vacation by herself in Maui. A trip to the Hawaiian Islands represents a worthy reward for a stressful year of hard work, and solo travel sometimes feels so much more self-indulgent and simple than coordinating with others.

I talked with the local women and the golf industry pros about how any woman golfer could have a great vacation all by herself in Maui. Here’s your mission, should you decide to plan a solo golf travel getaway.

TIPS FOR THE SOLO LADY GOLF TRAVELER

  • Consider when to travel. I noticed that winter is high season for Maui golf, but summer is high season for Maui family vacations. So golf courses are not so busy in summer and rounds can be quick. However, resorts overflow with kids. The latter need not spoil your de-stress time if you follow the next bit of advice carefully.
  • Choose a resort that has the amenities you want and is close to shopping and restaurants, so that you do not have to drive yourself every night to dinner. I can recommend three from my visit:

The Wailea Beach Resort Marriott sits on the ocean and has three pools, including one peaceful oasis designated for adults only, two restaurants, a spa, a movie theater, free yoga and exercise classes and a Starbucks. It’s also undergone $115 million in recent renovations.

And, if you prefer to have more indoor space, consider the Ka’anapali Alii. All of the units have full kitchens and lanais, yet you can step out your door and find yourself in the middle of a happening beachfront resort area, on a beachside path that meanders past other resorts, restaurants and shopping. I loved the beach here, and the Alii takes care of its guests with beach chairs, umbrellas and optional cabanas.

A combination of the Marriott and the Alii is the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, a full-service resort where about half the rooms have kitchens yet six restaurants lure you out and about. Some will prefer the seclusion of Kapalua to happening Ka’anapali, yet a shuttle makes all of Kapalua’s restaurants, golf courses and activities accessible into the evening hours.

  • Wherever you stay, make sure you know where your unit will be situated. If you’re next to the family pool or Starbucks, you’ll have a different experience than if you’re on the 11th floor overlooking the beach.
  • DON’T FORGET TO PACK: Golf glove, hat and shoes. Your swimsuit, sunglasses and visor. Bring a water bottle for the plane and you can use it at the beach.
  • I recommend opting out of romantic resorts. Nowhere have I missed my husband more than I did during my nonetheless wonderful stay at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai. I hear the Sheraton on Ka’anapali Beach also is better suited to honeymooners than to solo travelers.
  • For dinner, whenever possible sit at the bar or counter. Sitting at a table isolates you, unless some prince (or worse) decides to come join you. At the bar, you will no doubt be protected by the bartender and you can either talk to those around you or become engrossed in the golf tournament on the TV screen. My first night on Maui, I had a fabulous meal at the Pint & Cork, with a nice conversation with the man on my left and even a bit of conversation with the cell-phone-glued man on my right, who was asked to leave once he had been overserved.
DON’T BOTHER TO PACK: Sunscreen and beach towel. The resort can take care of you, or you can visit Target, Walmart or Costco near the airport. Leave your heavy jeans at home with your fancy shoes.
  • Consider playing golf at Wailea, Ka’anapali or Kapalua. I saw women at all of these courses, and if you call the pro shop and say, “Hey, I am visiting by myself, I’m a 20-handicapper, do you think you can set me up for a round?” the staff will do its best to serve you up a good time. At Ka’anapali, a group of women that plays the short but scenic Kai Course Mondays and Wednesdays welcomes outsiders, and the women’s club welcomes guests at its monthly tournament. Up at Kapalua, the Plantation golf staff knows of a couple that loves to play golf with visitors to the island. Remember, you can’t post your round if you play by yourself.
  • Do not take your wallet to the beach or pool and do not write down your room number. This way you can comfortably leave your belongings alone when you jump in the water. Room keys no longer have room numbers on them so unless someone plans to go room to room in your resort to find your door, and can do that in the time it takes you to get wet, you’re worry-free. Of course, it follows that you must remember your room number!
  • To ease one of the major hassles of golf travel, consider renting clubs if you plan to play just two or three rounds. You’ll spend $50 to $75 a round and probably receive a sleeve or two of balls, another item you won’t want to carry through airports. And the top resorts change out their rental clubs every year, so you’ll get to try the newest equipment.
  • Finally, remember that advice your mom gave you about not talking to strangers? Forget that! Do the opposite! Go to the edge of the Marriott’s infinity pool and remark to someone about the view, next thing you know you will be chatting with everyone around you. Said Wailea Golf Academy instructor Renee Lee: “The networking is great here. And if you’re from Ohio, I guarantee you will meet someone from Ohio.” Maybe even a golf travel lover just like you!

Have you had a solo golf travel experience? Please tell us about it!

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