Far too often, I find myself getting stuck in my same routine. It’s too easy sometimes, especially when I keep playing the same local golf courses every other weekend. But when the airline TAP Portugal and emerging golf app Hole19 partnered to fly me to Portugal to play in the Portugal Masters Pro-Am, I realized just how much I had undervalued the power of travel and immersing yourself in another culture.
As for me, I guess I’m what you’d call a “social influencer”. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the term at first, but that was before I realized how much social media could help me experience golf in completely new ways.
Despite my 7 AM arrival flight and the five hours of jetlag wearing me down more than my golf bag, I wasn’t even thinking about how tired I should be; I was too busy soaking up all the beauty that we don’t often see on golf courses back in the United States.
Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in Europe, and even though the golf courses themselves hardly go back a century, there’s something wonderful and classical about how they blend perfectly with the environment—almost as if the rolling hills of the course were created along with the coastline’s cliffs and white-sanded dunes.
After the Pro-Am, I spent the next couple of days exploring Lisbon. I stayed at the Dom Pedro Hotel in the heart of downtown with a gorgeous sixteenth-floor view of the Tagus River and part of the historic city.
Walking through the cobblestone streets surrounded by old buildings made me feel like I was strolling through a fairytale. I couldn’t believe that only a few days ago I was slouched behind my desk at work and that in a few more hours I would be back on a plane, leaving the beauty of Portugal behind.
Before this trip, I had no idea Portugal was named the world’s best golf destination four years in a row by the World Golf Awards, or that the country welcomes over 420,000 golfers to its nearly 90 golf courses every year. After playing a couple rounds, I started kicking myself for never planning a trip there before.
But that’s the best thing about golf—you never know where it’s going to take you. This trip proved to me that golf isn’t just a sport. It offers you the opportunity to travel the world, experience new things, and meet new people. Time a time again, I’m amazed by where golf has taken me, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next!
Hailey Hunter started documenting her golf life a little over a year ago on Instagram to share with everyone just how amazing the game can be for them too. Follow along with her golf journey here.