As recently as 10 years ago, the phrase “women’s golf buddy trip” was not in the golf lexicon.
Today, women’s buddy trips are occurring with greater and greater frequency. Some are organized by outside firms specializing in this genre of golf travel, while others are organized by the group itself, with one or two participants doing all the pre-planning.
In a novel twist on this concept, the Florida State Golf Association organized a women’s only trip to southwest Ireland this month. It is believed that the FSGA is the first state golf association, now known as an Allied Golf Association (AGA), to organize such a trip.
The Ireland trip was done in collaboration with Sullivan Golf Travel, one of the leading travel packagers with an expertise in Irish golf travel. It is a family-owned business based in Ireland. Sullivan counts several dozen AGAs as customers.
Like many AGAs, group travel to popular high-end golf resorts, as well as to Great Britain and Ireland, is a membership benefit staple. The trips are open to all members of the association, and they are built around golf, but typically they are not competitions. All arrangements are pre-booked; the traveler simply pays a fixed fee (roughly $4,000 for a shared room and a bit higher for a single room in this case) and has a pre-set itinerary. Airfare is not included and is left to the traveler to arrange.
The FSGA announced the women’s Ireland trip in November of 2022; it sold out within a week. On August 5th, 24 intrepid women headed to the southwest of Ireland for five rounds of golf and seven nights of accommodations. They all arrived at Shannon Airport and were transferred by luxury coach to Randles Court Hotel, where they would spend the first five nights.
Day two was ushered in with a full Irish breakfast, followed by 18 holes at the famed Waterville Golf Links. Day three consisted of a two-hour ride to Old Head Golf Links, the stunning golf course built on a peninsula that juts into the Atlantic Ocean.
It was at Old Head that the Florida crew got the full flavor of Irish golf. On the back nine, a furious fog began to approach. Fierce wind and rain followed, and the fog thickened such that the players could not see 100 yards in front of them. They endured, and after drying off in the clubhouse, a cup of chowder and fish and chips made it all worthwhile.
“This was the trip of a lifetime. I thoroughly enjoyed my time. I look forward to going on a future trip.” — Nicone Gordon
Day four saw the golf take place at Dooks Golf Club, a charming course near Killarney. The fifth day was given to sightseeing, an important component for female group trips that is not so terribly important to men’s trips. Day six featured 18 holes at Arnold Palmer-designed Tralee Golf Links. After golf, the group transferred to the Woodland House Hotel in the quaint town of Adare. The ladies played the next day at Adare Manor, the site of the 2027 Ryder Cup.
In addition to the Irish breakfast, a welcome and closing dinner were scheduled as well. The luxury coach, loaded with refreshments and snacks, was their mode of transportation as they made their way around various counties. Small groups of ladies would gather and wander to find dinner each night.
On Saturday, exhilarated and a bit exhausted, the women returned home from Shannon Airport, full of memories and new golf friends.
Two FSGA staffers who had never been to Ireland before were part of the trip; Lindsey Spatola and Emily Stoker fully participated while acting as hosts. Stoker described the event as “awesome” and pointed to the very quick camaraderie that developed among the group. Many of the women traveled together with friends, but several came as singles and quickly made new golf buddies.
At the end, everyone had the same question: when is the next trip scheduled? Trip participant Nicone Gordon, who traveled as a single, expressed this sentiment best when she observed: “This was the trip of a lifetime. I thoroughly enjoyed my time. I look forward to going on a future trip.”
The FSGA may be a pioneer in the AGA community as far as creating a women’s buddy trip, but I suspect it will receive a lot of incoming calls from other associations. This is a welcome trend that could and should spread rapidly across the AGA community in America.
© 2023 Global Golf Post LLC
Top: Emily Stoker (from left), Mary Dishmon, Lindsey Spatola and Christine Corsini Pickens take a break at Old Head Golf Links. Photo: Courtesy FSGA
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