It wouldn’t be difficult to imagine that lots of people in the travel industry believe that Rick Myles has the perfect job: he’s both an avid golfer and president of Golf Holidays International. That means he sits atop a company which has served traveling golfers since 1974; offers vacation packages to over 40 domestic golf destinations, along with more than 100 hotels and over 400 magnificent golf courses; and works with a staff of golf travel specialists who collectively have played the courses golfers at all skill levels want to play.
Another thing that Golf Holidays International does, according to its president, is work very closely with the travel agent community, its primary partners. “Golf travel is a good business,” says Myles, “and 70 percent of that business comes from travel agents. Golf travel is one of the most highly specialized areas of the travel business, and agents come to us for customized arrangements for their clients.
“Putting the pieces together, the various course plays at one destination, the tee times, and the special tickets to championship golf. This is what we do a good job on, and this is what agents call on us to do.”
Myles points out that for more than 35 years, the company has focused on planning and operating golf trips to U.S. courses, as well as those in Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe, and, “What we bring to the table is experience in arranging golf holidays for two persons or 200 persons, taking care of all details from start to finish.” He also points out that the company’s experience includes having the local contacts and relationships necessary to deliver the services that agents request for their clients.
With the popularity of golf here to stay, Myles looks forward to the continued expansion of Golf Vacations International’s circle of travel agent partners. “There are many ways for agents to get into this market, including establishing a working relationship with local golf clubs or special events held in cooperation with local sporting goods stores. With the strong increase in the numbers of women golfers, we have more bookings of couples who tee off together, as well as women friends traveling to play golf together. It might be useful, for instance, to have a look at such organizations as Executive Women’s Golf Association (ewga.com), with some 120 chapters in 40 states.”
According to Myles, some of the U.S.’s leading golf destinations are: • Florida—offering more courses than any other destination in the world and is home base for the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour.
• California—Pebble Beach is often cited as the game of golf at its worldwide best—ranked the #1 golf resort in America by Golf Digest. Golf Holidays International offers a Pebble Beach package for three nights at The Inn at Spanish Bay, and three rounds of golf at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, and The Links at Spanish Bay. Cost is $2,619 pp dbl.
• South Carolina—Hilton Head Island alone has more than 20 premier golf courses, but golf is also serious business at Myrtle Beach. Golf Holidays International offers a Myrtle Beach Super Special package, priced at $499 pp sharing and featuring four nights at the Myrtlewood Golf Resort and Villas (four people in a 2-bedroom villa), breakfast, minivan for four days, and one round each at Arcadian Shores, Azalea Sands and Eagle Nest courses.
The “International” part of the corporate name refers to golf travel covering the Caribbean—the Dominican Republic is strong; Mexico, where Los Cabos’ courses are considered among the world’s best; and Canada, where Whistler and Banff courses are world-famous. “In recent years,” Myles adds, “we have seen strong increases in golf holidays to Thailand, New Zealand and South Africa.”
However, Myles is quick to point out that Europe, specifically Scotland and Ireland, are the Shangri-las of golf. “There is something special about walking the fairways of The Old Course at St. Andrews, Turnberry or Carnoustie, where you’re following in the steps of golf’s greatest champions. And in the pecking order of dreams, The Old Course at St. Andrews offers an experience like no other and is the one that all golfers want to play at least once in a lifetime.”