It’s never too early to start planning your next golf holiday in the sun, and any seasoned golfer will know that packing for a long haul golf holiday isn’t something you can leave to the last minute. To help you get prepared, while you consider the perfect resorts and courses on our website of course, here are a few golf holiday travel essentials we think you’ll want to contemplate too.
Travelling with a suitcase and a carry on can be enough of a burden, so when you’re adding golf clubs to the mix you really want to ensure that you’re making life easy for yourself while protecting your equipment during transit. When looking for a golf travel bag it really is best to buy what you can afford – as more expensive bags will be more durable and have more room. When choosing a new golf travel bag, try to get one with wheels for ease of transport and making your clubs easier to manage when getting through an airport (ideally pivoting caster wheels as these offer excellent manoeuvrability). Also check the bag dimensions carefully for the roomiest one, and of course check that the zippers run the full length of the bag for easy loading and unloading.
We’re all guilty of a couple of new clothing purchases before a holiday, but when it comes to a golfing http://onhealthy.net holiday in the sun there are also practical reasons to invest in new golf shoes. If you’re used to playing in less than accommodating conditions, you will really feel the benefit of a pair of golf shoes designed for warmer climates which are light and allow your feet to breathe. Design advancements have meant that golf shoes are now extremely flexible, offering comfort, support and style. Here’s a great article to read on the top 10 golf shoes for men for some inspiration and to help you pick your perfect pair.
Of course you wouldn’t go on a golfing holiday without packing the essentials – golf balls, tees, coins or markers, but when on holiday, especially somewhere exotic, don’t forget that you’ll need to make room in your bag for those extras that you can sometimes overlook at home. These include sunscreen, insect repellent, antihistamines and after sun lotion. Better to be prepared, so that you can enjoy every day of your golf holiday.
If you’re new to golf and you’re planning to spend time on your holiday brushing up on your skills and improving your game, you might decide to pack a handheld golf GPS device to help you judge distance to the green and to hazards on a new course you are unfamiliar with. If you do pack one of these devices, remember to download the courses you are playing and also take any chargers and adapter plugs you might need. An important point to remember is that not all courses allow the use of these devices, so always best to check before you travel.
Avoid a fuss at the airport
Long haul travel can be frustrating at the best of times, so make the airport experience that little bit easier by being prepared. Golf travel bags will be considered as oversized items, so don’t leave checking in for your flights to the last minute as you will need extra time to do this. Make sure your golf bag is easily identifiable at luggage reclaim by having a marker or identifier attached to it, whether it’s a keyring or a piece of coloured ribbon tied through the zipper.
If you have any other questions about packing for your golfing holiday or want to know more about our long haul golfing holiday destinations, just give us a call on 028 9023 2112. Our travel experts have done all of this several times before and have learnt a few tips and tricks over the years to make golf holiday travel as painless as possible.
Rovos Rail exists in a world far removed from the stresses of everyday life,one where luxury is just the starting point for a golf adventure like no other.
Paul O’Hagan reveals all…
Anyone who has ever visited South Africa will know that the country is blessed with a beauty and magic all of its own. But experience it on a Rovos Rail train, and the country comes to life in a way I could never have imagined. While impeccable service, mouthwatering food and a seemingly endless supply of the finest wine would be the highlights of many a holiday, these aspects form just a small part of the Rovos Golf Safari experience. I didn’t know that a holiday that offers so much for golfer and non-golfer alike even existed!
Step back in time
There is much to talk about specific to the golf element of my incredible Golf Safari trip, but let’s start with the Rovos experience. The brainchild of South African businessman, Rohan Vos, the Rovos story began with the purchase of a number of train carriages at an auction in 1985. Vos’ intention was to restore these coaches and hitch them to a South African Railways train for trips with family and friends. After struggles with the South African Transport Services administration, a locomotive was purchased so that he could pull his own coaches. This idea slowly morphed into the first ever commercial Rovos Rail journey in 1989, when four paying passengers, friends and press set off on a four-day trip to the Eastern Transvaal.
Years of financial and emotional stress followed, but slowly the Rovos fleet and reputation grew into the thriving family business it has become today. There are now seven Rovos Rail adventures, ranging from a two-night trip from Pretoria to Cape Town, to a 15-day journey from Cape Town to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
My own South African adventure was a trip that would provide entertainment, relaxation and excitement in equal measure. The Golf Safari is an eight-night trip stopping off at some of the best golf courses and safari spots in South Africa. It starts out from Rovos Rail’s very own station in Pretoria, before heading up to Sun City, then down to Durban via Estcourt and Ladysmith. From Durban, the train heads north once more through Swaziland before reaching Kruger Park and heading back to Pretoria. During the nine days there is the option to play golf at Sun City, Champagne Sports Resort, Durban Country Club, Royal Swazi Country Club and Leopard Creek. Excursions are planned for golfers and non-golfers alike, including game drives, battlefield tours and city tours. The cost of the trip includes all golf, excursions, food and drink.
From the moment my wife and I arrived at the Rovos station, there was an atmosphere unlike anything I’ve ever experienced – a real sense of stepping back in time into another world of charming elegance and unadulterated pleasure. On arrival we were introduced to our hostess, just one of a team of incredibly friendly, yet unobtrusive train staff, and were shown to our suite, which was far roomier than I had imagined. Every Rovos train offers three suite sizes, each with a sleeping area and bathroom. We stayed in a mid- size Deluxe Suite, which offered ample room for the two of us and allowed us the luxury of lying on the bed during the day, soaking up the beauty of the South African landscape as the train rolled on through.
One of the many thoughtful touches that combine to make this such a special trip is that once you arrive at the station you can forget about your golf clubs. A coach follows the train for the entire journey and your clubs are ready and waiting on arrival at every golf course!
World class service
Every breakfast, lunch and dinner served on board is an experience in itself, with the food truly outstanding, The variety and tastes on offer would grace any top-class restaurant but the fact that it is all prepared in a tiny kitchen on board a train makes it all the more impressive. Dinner in particular offers an opportunity to dress up and indulge. The choice of wines is outstanding, with two sommeliers on board to make recommendations if required.
Any downtime onboard can be as sociable as you wish, with your room and quiet carriages available for relaxation and contemplation. The stunning observation car at the back of the train not only provides the best views of the countryside, but on our trip also acted as the social hub of the train. What surprised me most was the sense of togetherness among passengers from many countries, continents and backgrounds.
Before the trip we were intrigued to discover who the typical Rovos passenger might be, but we soon realised that this typical traveller does not exist. There were couples, friends and single passengers made up of golfers and non-golfers alike. Indeed, such is the strength of the non-golf itinerary that in some couples neither person played golf! A time for peace and contemplation can easily be found if so desired, but the opportunity to spend time with other passengers should not be missed.
Off the tracks
Although the itinerary might seem full-on at first glance, the balance between relaxation and off-train activities is just right. Early starts are to be expected to get the most out of the game drives, but they are then followed by relaxing afternoons onboard as the train makes its way through the beautiful and varied landscape.
We were lucky enough to see four of the ‘Big Five’ of lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino during game drives, along with a host of other animals in wonderful surroundings. As I was with my wife, who does not play golf, I decided to do the gentlemanly thing and pass on two of the five rounds, joining the non-golfers for extra activities instead. This request was willingly accommodated, as was anything else required throughout the nine days.
Beyond the multiple safari opportunities, the Battlefields Tour at Spionkop Lodge, with the Drakensberg mountain range as a backdrop, is not to be missed. The history of the Anglo-Boer War is fascinating and heart-wrenching in equal measure.
The trip does a great job of highlighting the fantastic variety of golf on offer in South Africa. First, we played the Gary Player course at Sun City, a layout familiar to many thanks to the annual Nedbank Golf Challenge. It combines stunning backdrops with exhilarating holes created in an extinct volcano crater. The final stretch is especially exciting with water playing a major role.
Durban Country Club is another to regularly host the world’s best players. It offers a very different, but equally enjoyable, challenge. Situated between the Indian Ocean and Durban city, the course mixes undulating fairways with lush vegetation to create brilliant variety.
Leopard Creek was undoubtedly the golfing highlight for me though, a breathtaking course usually reserved for members and their guests. Set on the borders of Kruger National Park, the memorable layout serves up regular sightings of crocodiles and hippos among other wildlife. There were golfers of all standards on my trip, but with a range of tees to choose from at all the courses, everyone is admirably catered for. There is even a PGA professional onboard every Golf Safari train to organise tee times, set up competitions, and help any golfer looking for advice, another neat little touch that helps trips run completely stress-free.
Left wanting more
It is telling that many of the guests onboard had been on a Rovos Rail trip before, and several had been on multiple Rovos adventures. After nine days on the train it was easy to see why. Holidays often end with an eagerness to get home, but our final night onboard was tinged with sadness that we would soon be stepping out of the time machine and back into everyday life.
There can be no better way to experience the beauty of South Africa than onboard a Rovos train, where the service, food and drink are of the highest quality, all delivered on a train brimming with charm, style and unrivalled character. The ability to combine this with some of the finest golf courses in the country made it a very special adventure that we will never forget.
Rovos Rail station is situated about 40 minutes’ drive from O.R. Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg. The Golf Safari departure times from the station mean that those flying in from the UK will need to stay the night before. Paul stayed at the stunning Castello di Monte Guesthouse in Pretoria, just 15 minutes from the station.
All green fees are included in the package
Gary Player Country Club
Stats: Par 72, 6,550 yards
Champagne Sports Resort
Stats: Par 72, 6,203 yards
Durban Country Club
Stats: Par 72, 6,463 yards
n Royal Swazi Spa Country Club
Stats: Par 72, 6,719 yards
Stats: Par 72, 6,629 yards
There will be three Golf Safari trips in 2015: April 2-10, October 8-16, November 19-27
A second nine-day African Golf Collage trip is also available, running from Pretoria to Cape Town and including golf at Leopard Creek and Fancourt Golf Estate