As rand hits the rough, SA golfers are looking East
JOHANNESBURG (1 December 2014) - "Go West, young man," might have been the call for travellers in earlier years. But in the case of South African golfers, more and more are looking East for the golf experience of a lifetime.
According to Warren Weitsz, the Sales and Marketing Director of Giltedge Golf & Safari who are the official travel partner of the PGA of South Africa, better value for money is leading more local golfers to book tours to countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.
And Vietnam could very well become the next big destination for not only South African golfers, but for the rest of the world as well.
"The main negative for South Africans wanting to travel to Scotland or the world's great golfing destinations in the West is the value of the rand," says Weitsz. "It's hard to travel to Scotland and not think that every pound you spend is approximately R18. It's a wonderful destination, the home of golf, but when golf costs you between R2000 and R4000 a round and you still have to factor in accommodation and flights, it's a big ask for most local golfers."
According to Weitsz, a 10-day to two-week trip to the East, with golf included, can cost you between R20 000 to R30 000 per person depending on the level of accommodation required.
"Thailand has always been a popular destination for leisure tourists from South Africa, and now golfers are starting to see it as a quality destination that offers great value for money. When it comes to China and Japan, the lack of English spoken and higher costs on the ground are still a factor that South Africans need to get over. But Vietnam is going to be the next big thing for golfers in my opinion, not only for South Africans, but for Europeans and international golfers alike. The big names in golf course development have built amazing championship golf courses in the country, and if you mix this with a vibrant history, an incredibly warm culture and quality accommodation at 4- and 5-star levels, it's a destination that South Africans will definitely enjoy."
Weitsz says some of the challenges regarding golf in the East are South African perceptions of the quality of golf courses, and the time difference and jet lag encountered when travelling there. But the positives are becoming far more attractive.
"What South Africans are liking about these destinations is that they're tropical, the weather is good all year round, the golf courses are quite different to what we have and that's appealing, the nightlife is brilliant, the culture is engaging, and you get incredible value for money."
Giltedge Golf & Safari and the PGA of South Africa are on a drive to encourage golfers to book tours with their club's PGA professional for the full golf experience which could include professional instruction whilst on holiday.
"At the moment we have PGA professionals from Europe who travel with groups from their golf clubs to South Africa during their winter months. And we are encouraging our PGA professionals to offer similar winter packages to their club members as they can develop their network and see the world at the same time," says Weitsz.