Why Airbnb might not be a great idea for your buddies golf trip

You may be able to save money, but consider these inconveniences.
There are many reasons why you should get a house for your buddies trip, but be mindful of these potential pitfalls.

I'm a big fan of Airbnb. In fact, not only do I regularly book them for family vacations, I'm a certified "Superhost" myself and rent out a little garage apartment on my property.

But vacation rentals aren't always the best option for your buddies golf trip. I learned that earlier this year when I led a group to San Diego. In hindsight, I should have dug a little deeper into options at traditional hotels and resorts or golf packages.

To be clear, the idea of a home rental is appealing. For buddies trips, it's better to be in whole houses with common areas than having everyone retreat back to separate hotel rooms. You can also save time and money by eating in and stocking the fridge with your favorite beverages.

Few golf resorts are convenient to city centers, so if that's a big part of your itinerary you will be drawn to lodging closer in. You can also find some pretty affordable options if you're not too picky. My group ended up paying about $70 per person, per night, for a big place just a few blocks from the ocean.

But I came away from my trip with some remorse for a few reasons. For starters, Airbnbs are independently run, so there is not much of a brand standard when it comes to furnishings. Some cabinets are loaded with soaps, coffee, cooking sprays, spices, you name it. Others are bare. We were rolling 12 deep in this place, and I made the host aware of that, but there weren't enough towels or blankets for everyone. Some of the beds were iffy as well.

And when we booked it, everyone liked the idea of being near the beach. But we forgot that in San Diego it's not warm in May and never actually went to the beach. It was walking distance to bars and restaurants, though, and some of my buddies got a kick out of using motorized scooters for the first time (no one tore an ACL, thankfully).

We also ended up being so busy that we didn't cook anything at all in the house.

But the biggest drawback was that we were staying in an established neighborhood, Pacific Beach, that had grown hostile to short-term rentals. Local ordinances are evolving when it comes to home rentals (some Airbnb rentals even operate stealthily), and it could put you in a precarious spot. There were signs up and down our street saying things to the tune of, "Keep hotels out of our neighborhood."

Not exactly a warm welcome.

Then, when I checked in, the manager called and warned me that the previous buddies trip was too loud on the porch at night and the neighbors called the cops on them and they were evicted with a heavy fine.

How on earth was this Buddies Trip Captain supposed to sleep at night, gripping his blanket in bed, waiting for his buddies to roll in from a late night out in the Gaslamp District? That was the tensest part of the trip for me. I felt like a nervous grandparent.

Here are a few other things to consider before booking a vacation rental on Airbnb, VRBO or similar:

Golf resorts give preferred rates and access for official accommodations. Consider Kiawah Island. They have official villa accommodations that come with the option for a Kiawah Island golf package, but you also get access to other various resort amenities on the island, not to mention preferred tee times. If you book with a third party, you don't necessarily get to use certain pools and other various amenities and services.

Or how about Bandon Dunes? It's not a cheap place to visit and the accommodations, while not lavishly over-the-top like other 5-star hotels, will still push the per-day golf & bed cost to $500 or so per person. So some groups will book nearby rentals, but the green fees for non-hotel guests are $40-50 more per round and you'll need your own car instead of being able to use the great and free shuttle service on the property. Saving on the front end can often mean more outlay on the back end.

Booking at a resort is definitely easier, and more and more of them offer golf packages that include courses outside their property. Phoenix-Scottsdale and Palm Springs are prime examples. Golf course management companies often partner with local hotels - not just resorts - that provide a little more value.

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And don't forget the home rental's checkout instructions! Some can be very detailed and onerous, especially in a large house. The operator will likely ask for the trash to be taken out, beds stripped, dishes cleaned, etc. You can't just pack up and walk out of some of them like at a resort. Due to an early flight I had to leave checkout in the hands of those departing after me.

And keep in mind that you, the booker, can be reviewed by the host. Are all of your buddies mature enough these days that you don't fear them spoiling your online reputation? Consider yourself lucky.

All told, I think booking independently-managed Airbnbs as a couple or as a small family might be a little safer bet than rolling a dozen guys deep in a big place for a golf trip. In meccas like Myrtle Beach, virtually all the hotel accommodations feature full kitchens and there are many two- and three-bedroom units with open living spaces. The convenience of home rentals is paired with the professionalism and consistency of a hotel, and it's a huge reason why the destination is as successful as it is.

More and more golf resorts are wising up to the idea of offering villas and cottages for rent, too. They see these third parties and homeowners getting a piece of their pie, and they also know they have the hospitality experience and infrastructure to deliver a superior experience.

I'm not sure which destination my group is going to next year, but I am going to crunch the numbers and browse official options a little more closely before considering a third-party vacation rental.

Do you prefer to book with a resort or get a vacation rental for your buddies trip? Let me know in the comments below:

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Brandon Tucker is the Sr. Managing Editor for GolfPass and was the founding editor of Golf Advisor in 2014, he was the managing editor for Golf Channel Digital's Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and nearly 600 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at @btuck34.
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Our group have tried the home rental route but now prefer the “stay & play” route. Our home rental experience did not include decent beds, lack of kitchen equipment, it was a tired home and we didn’t ask if the pool was heated (our fault and lesson).
Although we always planned to do our own cooking, we chose to select a resort that offers free (nothings free) breakfast that gets us going in the morning plus no cleanup. Lunch is a burger and beer after the golf game (always reasonably priced at the course), then we head back to the resort for a shower and happy hour drinks. Dinner is again a time to chat about the day but let someone else to the cooking and cleaning. At the end of the 5 days it is straighten things up and turnkey.
We know we pay a premium to go the resort route, but are so many companies now that offer such low prices on accommodations and green fees it is hard not to go the resort route.

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Interesting article. As a regular traveller on golf trips I have done both but would never book a large trip in a rental. Hotels/resorts are better through an agent or direct, small groups are fine.
Safety of fall back to Resort is important we were in Hilton Head on a package had a real wet cold day on 3rd day I negotiated a cancellation and a return on our day all be it at differing tee times, you could never do that if in own rental.
No one thing suits all personal choice, my experience is cutting. Corners to save a few bucks is not a great idea and can lead to problems.

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Great point about being able to negotiate and get last-minute cancellations/rain checks. Thanks for sharing.

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Prefer to book with the resort. You can usually just walk away.

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I organize golf trips both personally and professionally along with owning multiple golf focused vacation homes in US and Scotland. Your article sounds like it was written in large part by resort pr staff. Resorts in general have been late in offering this type of product. But each group is different and budget always plays a large part in final selection. Homes and condos are my personal choice as camaraderie and food/drink flexibility are better.

Staff
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I agree. That’s why I mentioned Myrtle. They’ve had the best of both worlds for awhile. PR staff?? Ouch

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I have booked a number of group trips to various locations, Orlando, Scottsdale/Phoenix and Myrtle Beach, no less than 30 at a time. We had a great time with some very detailed planning, but for convenience and package, The Legends in Myrtle Beach stood out. Can’t wait to go there again.

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We have been going to Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland for golf trips for the past 12 years but in 2018, we decided to try that AirBnB thing in the Lahinch area because we were only staying up there for 3 nights and then going down south to Killarney for a week. Thinking that AirBnB would be the better option for the shorter stay, I booked a great place in town. Cancelled by the owner shortly afterwards. Not disillusioned, I booked another one which was cancelled by the owner. Only after the third try did we find a booking through AirBnb that "stuck" - it was a great option for our group of four.

After thinking about it, almost every house on AirBnb is on Homeaway, VRBO, Holidaylettings.co.uk and others to get as much exposure for their properties over all of the rental platforms. Since it is much easier to rent for a whole week (routinely Saturday to Saturday in UK and Ireland), the AirBnb owner will cancel the shorter week if a week's long stay comes along, booting you out of your booking. If at all possible, rent Saturday to Saturday in Great Britain/Ireland to avoid this from happening.

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I have organized a number of buddy trips and will be traveling in April to Scotland on a trip organized by a friend. In the USA, the golf resort packages are much better than trying to piece together housing + food + housekeeping + transportation + golf. Bandon, Kiawah, Whistling Straits, Pinehurst, and dozens of other resorts are best accessed through a package deal. In Scotland and Ireland, the number and quality of packages is very limited. A house, car, tee times, and pubs are the best options.

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That's so interesting. Looking at Bandon packages now and they're 3-4 times more expensive than going the AirBnb route, even with the premium of paying extra for tee times. We've done the resort thing in Pebble, and it wasn't our scene...overpriced resort food, and amenities we didn't use but paid for. Left a bad taste in my mouth about going the "resort" route, particularly at Bandon, where it seems like accommodations are fairly basic.

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Always a condo or house. No brainer for us. I’ve organized over 30 golf trips of 7-10 days and would never stay 2 to a small room again. Cramped , no cooking facilities ( especially for breakfast) resort restaurants are way overpriced. It just doesn’t seem like a group trip when everyone is separate. Never had a rental problem. Been everywhere from Myrtle Beach and Orlando to Seattle and all points in between.eating 3 meals out a day ( not to mention the price of drinks and the problem of driving when drinking ( we don’t))

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Why Airbnb might not be a great idea for your buddies golf trip