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Posted March 14, 2017 in Golf Travel, Lifestyle, Podcasts by Tom Brassell
Fulfilling golfers’ “bucket lists” and making their dreams of worldwide golf travel come true.
That’s the mission of our new golf destination and travel partner, Golfbreaks.com.
And making that golf travel abroad simple and easy!
And who better to explain to us how it works than one of their founders and CEO of USA operations, Daniel Grave.
Starting in the 1990’s in the UK planning and executing weekend getaways for citizens of Great Britain, Golfbreaks.com is now known and respected as Europe’s leading golf gravel specialist, handling golf vacations and getaways around the world.
They easily handle any or all of the 4 components necessary for golf travel abroad:
Working with them is easy and simple.
Take a listen to the recent conversation that we had with Daniel. You can find it on our Soundcloud link (below), on our website or by subscribing free in iTunes.
Then, be sure to visit their site at http://usa.golfbreaks.com/. Better yet, pick up the phone and speak with one of their Golf Vacation Specialists at 843-779-6462. And be sure to tell them you came their way because you heard of them from Worldwide Golf Shops!
Tom Brassell: Welcome to GolfBetter at Worldwide Golf Shops. Episode 224. Hello everyone my name is Tom Brassell. Thanks so much for joining us. Whether you’re first time listener, long time subscriber. Maybe somewhere in the middle. Doesn’t matter, either way we are just glad that you joined us. Our special guest joins us today, he is part of our new golf destination and travel partner at Worldwide Golf Shops. He is CEO of Golfbreaks.com USA. Mr. Daniel Grave. Daniel, thanks so much for joining us.
Daniel Grave: Very nice to be here Tom. Thank you for having me.
Tom Brassell: Yeah before we get started that just, after I looked and researched and talked a little bit with you beforehand. I wish we could change the title to like, golf bucket list because that’s kinda what you guys do. Make dreams come true, isn’t it?
Daniel Grave: Yeah we are essentially a travel agency for golfers. So the specific purpose of a trip is to play golf. Yes, we do bucket list golf and destinations but we also like to cater for all different budget types. So it’s not just the top end.
Tom Brassell: Tell us a little bit how you guys got started. How you found your niche and what you guys are really, really good at because this is not something you just started yesterday. You’ve been in this for quite a while.
Daniel Grave: Yes, we set the business up in 1998. There are four of us that set the business up and owned the business. We set it up over in the U.K. When we set the business up in the U.K there were other golf travel specialists that were sending Brits overseas for golf vacations but there was no one actually helping Brits with domestic golf travel and this was particularly for the one and two night weekend type breaks hence the name, Golfbreaks.com. So we felt that there was an opportunity there to appeal to this mass market really. Everyone could afford a one and two night or three night break, close to home where they just literally had to jump in their car and drive two or three hours and they would get to a resort and stay for a few days. Have dinner, bed and breakfast, play golf and then drive home.
So that was our initial model and because it was so easy and affordable it meant that we did a huge amount of volume very quickly. So we built a database of golfers really quickly and then over time we added overseas destinations to that. Eighteen years later we now send around two hundred and twenty thousand Brits on a golf vacation worldwide every year. Still, half of that business is domestic U.K travel and the other half of that business is Brits going overseas. So, Spain and Portugal are really popular for the British market because that’s probably the closest place to go where you’re gonna get some guaranteed sunshine. Coming to the states is really popular, places like Mauritius. Turkey was pretty popular until they had some troubles there but that will come back. South Africa, the Canary Islands, places like Lanzarote and Tennerife. So yeah there are so many destinations around the world that we now do send people to and we’ve always had aspirations to expand overseas and you know, the North American golf market is huge. It’s more than seven times the size of the U.K so it was a natural choice.
Tom Brassell: Well with our customer base over here as far as the United States I think that is one of the bucket list things in the back of every golfers mind is, “Boy, I’d love to go to Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland. Just too expensive, I can’t afford it” but not necessarily the case, especially working with Golfbreaks, correct?
Daniel Grave: Yeah, because of starting this in 1998, so eighteen years ago and because we started with the domestic U.K travel. Our bread and butter, you know, our historic banker type packages are to Scotland and Ireland and around the U.K, that’s where we have our most formidable relationships and because of the volume that we do, we have great, great strength in our negotiations. So our strap line, you know what we do for golfers is we save golfers time and money when it comes to arranging their golfing vacations. So we’ll do all the running around and all the leg work. We’ll book up the tee times, we’ll book up the accommodations. We’ll book up the ground transportation and we’ll even do the flights for people. So we’ll do all that and then we’ll also make sure we get them the very best price.
So when a golfer comes to use us there are no booking fees as some people might perceive. So our objective is really to make golf accessible, easy to book and affordable for people who want to go on these trips.
Tom Brassell: Daniel, as someone who’s absolutely brand new to this like I would be. What would be an ideal number of nights that you would recommend if you’re going to go from the States over to the U.K?
Daniel Grave: That’s a great question. I would say, you know, a week is a good amount of time so seven nights. The important thing when going over to the U.K and I think this is a really common mistake for people who are doing it for the first time is they try to cover too much ground in a seven day period. Obviously the U.K landmass is way smaller than the U.S so I think North American travelers when they go over there they sort of feel, well they can probably just drive everywhere in a week and get it all done. When actually that just means you’re chasing your tail all week and you forget the purpose of the trip, which is to really relax and enjoy the courses and the scenery and the people. If you’re on the go, go, go, go, go the whole time then, you tend to lose that. Our advice with people is go over there for seven nights, play five or six different courses, but try and stick to either one or two regions of Scotland or Ireland or England or Wales rather than trying to cover it all.
Tom Brassell: And also I would guess everybody’s dream would be to, “Oh, let’s play every course on The Open rotation.” Instead of trying something like that there’s some, maybe mix in one or two of those but there’s some great other courses that are maybe open qualifying courses that are just fantastic, correct?
Daniel Grave: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, if you try and go over there and hit all of the open rotation, then that, you probably need two to three weeks to do that in a comfortable fashion. So if you’re there for a week, like I said, I would stick to one or two regions max. So, let’s just say you want to go to St. Andrews, you know St. Andrews is always the top of everybody’s list.
Tom Brassell: Sure.
Daniel Grave: Getting a pre-booked tee time on the St. Andrews Old Course is pretty hard to achieve. We can help people with that but it’s expensive. So, what we recommend and how we educate people is that when you go over there you can actually go into something that they call the ballot, which is where you enter your names 48 hours before the day that you would like to play, so it’s very much a last minute thing but you enter the ballot, you put your names into the ballot and then they will let you know the day before you play whether you’ve been successful in securing your tee time there.
So we say to people, look if you’re gonna go over there for a week and let’s just say you stay in St. Andrews for a week that means you can enter the ballot multiple times, which highly increases your chance of success and then while you’re there, I mean the amount of golf courses within an hours drive of St. Andrews, that are just breathtaking is unbelievable and that’s why we recommend staying in one or two regions for a week cause there’s so much golf in these regions. So much amazing golf, there’s no real need to just be in the car the whole time going here, there and everywhere.
Tom Brassell: Daniel Grave joining us, CEO of Golfbreaks.com, USA division. Our new golf destination and travel partner for Worldwide Golf Shops. Daniel some things, I guess if you’re willing to prepare for a trip like this, obviously if you’re not doing some walking now you better start because everything over there, you’re gonna be walking, correct?
Daniel Grave: Yeah and in the U.K it is very different to the U.S, especially these old fashioned links style courses and at the end of the day the North Americans that go across the U.K and Ireland, that’s the type of the golf they want to play. That’s the type of golf that we see on the television when we’re watching the British Open. So that’s the highest demand golf. Now with those types of courses, there’s two or three things that’s very different. Typically, those courses don’t have carts. Typically, those courses are in nine holes out and then you turn around and then you play your nine holes back and when you’re out five miles from the clubhouse, typically there is no halfway house to sit down and have a drink and a bacon roll or whatever you might want to eat, you know, before you come back and attack the back nine. So, yeah it’s a very different type of golf. You’re out there in the elements, you’re walking, you can usually get a cool trolley, I think that’s what you would call it here, a little trolley that you can put your bag on or a caddie but you need to fill your golf bag with waterproof clothing and some bananas and granola type cereal bars to keep you going for the full four to five hours of golf.
Tom Brassell: Yeah it’s a dream that everybody really would like to try over here. You mentioned earlier the four key elements to a trip like this that you guys can help so much with, not only the flights, the ground transportation, tee times and everything. Just a little bit on this because some people over here in the States have their own mileage accounts, wanna do it themselves as far as the airfare but trying to do all this is really, it’s gonna be super time consuming and just something that, well you guys have the inner edge on getting the rest of this done, don’t you?
Daniel Grave: Yeah, the three most important pieces to the trip are the tee times, the accommodations and the ground transportation. So it’s all of the elements on the ground when you get to the destination. Flights, that’s very much a personal preference. You know, we can help people with flights but what we find is in this day and age with flights being so easy to book yourselves online and also with everybody having different allegiances to different airlines, you know loyalty preferences, a lot of our customers tend to book their own flights but that’s not so we can’t help them with that.
The other three elements are the key elements. So tee times, you know especially for the big name courses in the U.K and Ireland, we recommend people, if they want to play those big names, they need to book 12 months in advance. Tee sheets fill up that far in advance for these places. It’s incredible and so yeah, that’s the recommendation. Accommodation wise, you know again, to get the really authentic experience we recommend that people stay in three to four star bed and breakfast type accommodation rather than the big five star resorts. That way they’re gonna really sample Scotland, Ireland, whatever it might be, properly and most places don’t have necessarily the same volume of bedrooms as the big five star resorts so they do get booked up pretty quickly. Those places that have all that character and then the ground transportation.
There’s two choices really to make there. People can either be driven around in like a Mercedes van or whatever or whatever and have their own private chauffeur but the more adventurous golfers and we actually really highly recommend this, because again you really get to feel the country you’re visiting. If you drive yourself around and I know it’s on the other side of the road but I can promise you within about 30 minutes of driving on the other side of the road you get used to it. One thing I would recommend though is if you are gonna drive, it’s probably best to, and we always recommend this, is to get an automatic vehicle rather than a stick shift, cause that’s what people are used to driving over here and you don’t wanna be driving on the other side of the road and having to try and remember to change gears. So driving around, that way you have all that flexibility and you can go wherever you want, whenever you want and it helps you get off the beaten track a little bit and see all these amazing spots.
Tom Brassell: And one other way to get the local feel I guess is to play some of those courses that aren’t necessarily on the rotation for the Open Championship and maybe some qualifiers because you’ll be mixing in with some of the locals. Is that too far from the truth?
Daniel Grave: No, you’re absolutely right Tom and we recommend this a lot. You know, naturally everyone wants to go over there and play the big names and come back and say they’ve played those courses and show people their caps and the shirts and all the different stuff that they collect from those courses but our recommendation is that you will have as good as, if not better experience by having a, what we would call a blended trip.
Where if you’re playing five or six different courses, two or three of those courses are the big names and the other three or four of those courses are what we would call hidden gems and they would typically be your Open qualifier type courses and these courses tend to be a fraction of the price of the big names. There tee sheets are less busy and when you’re playing those courses you’re gonna be playing in amongst more local golfers as opposed to more, visitors and tourists. So you do get that much more authentic experience and when you go into the clubhouse after the round and you sit there and have your pint of warm beer, whatever it might be, then you know, you’ll be sitting with the local butcher and the plumber and you’ll just have those more engaging local conversations than being the five star top end big name stuff all the way. Does that make sense?
Tom Brassell: Makes perfect sense. Now where would we go to find out more? Obviously we will have links on our Worldwide Golf Shops website on The Leading Edge blog but as far as where someone can go right now to find out more information take us down that path. Where should we go?
Daniel Grave: Yeah, so the website to go to is USA.golfbreaks.com and that’s g-o-l-f-b-r-e-a-k-s.com. USA.golfbreaks.com. When you go to that website you’ll see across the navigation bar that we, we offer Scotland, Ireland, England, Wales, Dominican Republic and Mexico. They are more recent additions to the trips that we’re offering and over time we’ll be adding more and more destinations, just like we did when we grew our U.K business. So if you go to that website you’ll see the different countries that we do trips to, you can click on those countries, within those countries we break them down into different regions and you can go through the journey of figuring out where you want to go and the types of golf that you can play. We have a load of sample packages up there so it gives you some really good guideline pricing of what you can do on a four day trip, a seven day trip, a ten day trip. You know it can give you a real sense of what’s achievable and how much it’s gonna cost.
If you wanna speak to somebody, which most people do when they’re going on one of these trips, there’s a lot of questions that people have and there’s a lot of guidance that they need. So we have an army of golf vacation specialists is what we call them. These are guys and girls that are experts in the destinations that we sell. They’ve been to these destinations, they’ve stayed in the hotels, they’ve played the courses. They know exactly what everything’s about. So in order to speak to somebody just call our dedicated Worldwide Golf Shops number, which is 843-779-6462, 843-779-6462 and one of our golf vacation specialists can literally hold your hand through the whole process.
Tom Brassell: Yeah usa.golfbreaks.com. There’s a wealth of information. Videos, like you said, just ideal places to go and stay and also like you said, pick up the phone, call them or you can online chat too. It’s literally their mission in life is making golf dreams come true. Daniel Grave thanks so much for joining us here on GolfBetter. We’ve been looking forward to this, this fantastic partnership. Some final words for our listeners from your side of the house.
Daniel Grave: We just very much look forward to helping North American golfers make these trips. In the U.K we’ve made our name by really growing the market. You know, when we got into the market in 1998 there were maybe 20 or 30 thousand Brits that would go on golf trips every year. There are now way more than 200,000 that go on these trips because we’ve made it so easy, accessible, affordable for people to book these trips. So that’s exactly what we’re trying to do over here in North America for the American and Canadian golfers. We’re here to make your life easy.
Tom Brassell: Yeah, Daniel thanks so much. Hopefully we can do it again soon. Appreciate the time.
Daniel Grave: Thank you Tom. Bye
Tom Brassell: Yeah, that’s fantastic stuff. Usa.golfbreaks.com. Daniel Grave, he’s the CEO of the USA side here and just making dreams come true. That’s what they do. That’s what they’ve been doing since the 90’s over across the pond and now they’re bringing it over here to and that’s everybody’s dream vacation, any golfer you seem like they, other than some of the normal spots here in the United States. Everybody wants to go to the U.K to Great Britain, Scotland and probably Ireland as well just to see some of those places and find where, find where their game sits, where it was all started. Across the pond. Give them a look, usa.golfbreaks.com or you can pick up the phone and call them on the Worldwide Golf Shops dedicated number at 843-779-6462. Our newest golf destination and travel partner. Well thanks so much to Daniel Grave for joining us and to you our listeners and we’ll do it again next time. We have another episode of GolfBetter at WorldwideGolfShops.com. So long everyone.