Golfers usually travel in even numbers, which is reason enough for the single golfer on the tee sheet to feel like the odd man out, and if you’re the odd woman out on a tee sheet filled with men, well, that can feel even more awkward.
But maybe you’re traveling on business and got wind of the bucket-list course 10 minutes away from your hotel. Or, you just need a quiet, no-stress vacation with your golf clubs. Or perhaps you’re simply a bold adventurer who loves the opportunity to make new friends on a golf course, any golf course.
As a golf writer, I’ve done a lot of solo traveling. I’ve been the only player on the forward tees in many foursomes, the woman wishing she had headphones on the bus, and the self-conscious female high-handicapper paired with the analytical director of the resort golf school. And I have learned that no matter your reason for making a golf trip solo, in every case you can make the odd number 1 feel like a lottery winner. It just takes a fearless attitude and a bit of planning.
Here are a few tips from travel industry experts and intrepid travelers on how you can make the most of golf on the road by yourself.
Carefully consider your travel dates and destination.
If you plan a golf getaway at a destination popular with families in the summertime—the Orlando area, for instance, or Maui—you may find more elbow room and better deals on local golf courses than during times when snowbird couples flock to the area. This means, though, that restaurants, hot tubs, and other attractions, may be kid-filled. On the other hand, you don’t really want to book yourself at a resort that’s famously romantic, do you?
Make your golf package all about you.
Golf packages are usually made for two, so pick up the phone and make a package all about you. Resorts want your business, and, if you get the right person on the line, the staff will be willing to customize at least your lodging and golf to your liking. If not, there’s always the book-your-own Airbnb-plus-golf option.
And don’t forget to check out our expert golf packing tips. On a group tour, somebody else usually handles the luggage, but on a solo golf trip, one pulled muscle can ruin your plans.
Ask for what you want out of your golf trip.
This next one takes a bit of nerve but can make all the difference between a day of golf and a fun day of golf: Even if the resort is making your golf reservations for you, pick up the phone during your destination’s weekday business hours and talk to the golf course staff. Be honest about your situation.
“I would rather not be in a group with three men.”
“I would love to go out and play by myself.”
“When does your women’s club play? Could I join them?”
“Do you have any members who might enjoy showing a visitor around the course?”
There are golf industry professionals who haven’t valued or even considered business from solo, female golfers, and your inquiry might open a new world of possibilities for them.
Plan for other activities outside of golf.
What else do you want to do on your trip? The surveys say that while groups of men are inclined to play 36 holes daily on a golf trip, women tend to want to play 18 and then have other experiences. Many golf resorts offer, or even include, yoga classes, guided hikes, and even some off-property experiences such as zip-lining and off-roading. This way, a solo traveler doesn’t necessarily have to go it alone after her round.
Don’t be embarrassed to eat alone.
Now that you’ve had a great day of golf and activities, here’s the part many women hate: Dinner for one. For some reason, it’s comfortable to have breakfast and lunch alone, but dinner at a table covered with white linens feels awkward. Maybe you’re thinking about ordering up a pizza instead? Try this: Grab a seat at the bar of a lively, four-star restaurant and have your dinner right there. I once dined my way around Culinary Nirvana, better known as Charleston, S.C., without sitting down at a table. Under the protective eyes of the friendly bartenders who served me, I met people coming and going who wanted to trade food notes. If this doesn’t work for you, you could always ask for the TV to be tuned in to Golf Channel.
And there you have it! If you’ve ever been adventurous and trekked out on your own to the links, let us know your tips in the comments below.