Field Notes: Don’t sleep on New Zealand

New Zealand may be halfway around the world but don’t be so quick to dismiss the island as one of the best golf trips you may ever take, according to former touring pro Mat Perry and wine judge and food enthusiast Bill Hird, the founders of Golf in New Zealand

The duo bills their company’s travel experiences as a refreshing perspective on golf tours and luxury travel throughout New Zealand with its offerings that include such courses as Cape Kidnappers Golf Course, Jack’s Point Golf Course, Kauri Cliffs and Paraparaumu Beach. 

“What Bill and I do with Golf in New Zealand is provide education on how to get there, how long to stay, where to go, and what’s possible with guided journeys for golf, food, wine, culture and more,” says Perry, who adds that the average length of stay for those golf vacationing in New Zealand is 17 days. “With it being a bucket list trip, you don’t want to come for a week and try to squeeze it all in and go home tired.

A non-stop flight from New York takes about 18 hours, Perry says. The larger Australia, a five-hour flight from New Zealand, is often most associated with vacationing in that part of the globe, but Perry said there is no use comparing the nearby countries. 

“I lived in Melbourne for seven years, so Australia’s great, but they’re contrasting countries,” he says. “Australia is a big sandbox with beautiful beaches. New Zealand is volcanoes, stunning beaches, hilltops, mountain ranges, lakes, glaciers — it has the works.” 

Such varied topography allows for stunning golf layouts. Architects include such notables as Tom Doak, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, and Jack Nicklaus.  

“Tom Doak has been on record as saying there’s nowhere in the world that’s advanced more in golf in the last 20 years than New Zealand,” Perry says. 

And while many of the top golf courses have been designed over the last quarter century, The Otago Golf Club, established in 1871, is the oldest club in the Southern Hemisphere and the fourth oldest golf club outside of the United Kingdom.  


An unparalleled golfing experience in the heart of London is coming in early June with the opening of The Inspiration Club

“This has been an exciting, enjoyable and unique project and, if we have done our job well, then the same should apply to playing the course,” said Tom Mackenzie of the renowned links style architectural team of Mackenzie & Ebert. “We hope that following a first trip round the course, golfers of all standards will want to return with their friends.” 

The Inspiration Club is being described as “a modern links in the city.” 

“We wanted to ensure that we had the right designer to create our vision and the result is a golf course unlike anything London has ever seen — a modern-style links,” said club director Tony Menai-Davis. “To experience the shapes of the greens and runoffs we have here you would normally have to travel to the coast. The Inspiration Club offers the drama of the absolute best courses in the United Kingdom in sight of the capital.”

The Inspiration Club is the third golf course in the growing portfolio of the family-owned Bridgedown Golf Group. The Menai-Davis family has a proven track record of creating world-class golf experiences that are inclusive and affordable. They are the only British family to have built multiple courses in the United Kingdom — The Shire designed by Seve Ballesteros and The West London Golf Centre being the family’s other two courses.

The Inspiration Club measures 6,610 yards and features Pure Distinction bentgrass greens. To protect the greens, an initial investment of more than $750,000 has been made in the bunkering alone, Menai-Davis said. 


The first of five U.S. Opens in 23 years is coming to Pinehurst in approximately four months and the building of initial course infrastructure is already underway. 

It’s not too late to secure some lodging or reserve a tee time in the North Carolina Sandhills the week of Father’s Day, but it’s better to book sooner than later, golf travel experts in the area say. And if you’re renting a house, expect to pay somewhere in the range of $2,000-$10,000 per bedroom tournament week. Golf could cost $300 per round. 

U.S. Open week is always a busy time in and around the host site, but the fact that the national championship is being staged at Pinehurst No. 2, a resort course that anyone can play instead of a private layout, seems to peak interest among traveling golf patrons. In addition, Moore County is home to more than three dozen golf courses. 

Greg Austin, who was a golf pro at Pinehurst Resort in 1999 when Payne Stewart won the U.S. Open there, has owned AME Golf, a full service golf package and tour provider in the Village of Pinehurst, for 25 years. He says the area had already been swamped with players since COVID-19, and an Open year just adds to the golf frenzy.  

“I don’t see many gouging people, but it’s all about supply and demand,” Austin says of the pricing. “And Thursday is now a weekend rate price. Golf has gotten silly busy since the pandemic.” 

Golfers traveling to the Pinehurst area should also note that peak season rates for most courses will be extended from mid-May until the last week of June, an extension of six more weeks of prime-time play, Austin says.

Steve Saye, owner of Sandhills Golf Packages and Clubhouse Properties, agrees with Austin on the golf traveling trends in an Open year, and notes that all the attention placed on the area over the next two decades will result in major changes to the iconic golf community.  

“We’re adjusting to that — even globally — whether it be restaurants, bars, businesses as a whole. It’s like this area is changing and changing very rapidly,” he says. “Yes, it has always been golf centric, but now it’s like volcano hot golf centric.”



Each January, GolfPass creates the Golfers’ Choice lists to recognize top courses as determined by recreational golfers who shared nearly 300,000 reviews through NBC Sports Next’s leading online tee-time service, GolfNow. The five courses topping each of the warm weather state lists for 2024 include TPC Scottsdale, Stadium Course (Scottsdale, Arizona); Journey at Pechanga (Temecula, California); Tiburon Golf (Naples, Florida); Mauna Kea Golf Course (Island of Hawaii); and Wildhorse Golf Club at Robson Ranch (Denton, Texas). “Even the golfers who don’t live in these warm-weather states will be very interested in these lists,” said Jason Scott Deegan, managing editor of GolfPass. “Golfers looking to chase the sun can use these best-of rankings to inspire their next winter getaway.” … Get your tickets now. In less than 100 days, the PGA Championship will teeing off at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. Reigning champion Brooks Koepka will be seeking his fourth Wanamaker Trophy in six years. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, this is Valhalla’s fourth time hosting a PGA Championship (1996, 2000, 2014), and the first time the championship will be played in May at the venue. …  McConnell Golf, with a golf course portfolio of 16 properties spanning North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, partners with gaming platform Underdog Sports. Sedgefield Country Club, host of the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, has appointed Underdog Sports to host, manage, operate and support the Underdog branded online gambling services in the state. North Carolina legalized online sports betting, which could include golf waging at PGA Tour stops such as the Wyndham Championship and Wells Fargo Championship, in June 2023. 

Argentario Offers Tempting Tuscan Fare Alongside Championship Golf

With its ‘Farm to Table’ Half Board Package

Tuscany, Italy, February 2024The Argentario Golf & Wellness Resort, a 5-star destination in the Maremma, is offering tempting Tuscan fare alongside championship golf with its ‘Farm to Table’ Half Board Package, with prices starting at Euros 418 (US$449) for two people per night.

The half board option, which includes a daily 4-course dinner and buffet breakfast, gives golfers the chance to embark on a gastronomic journey that places emphasis on local cuisine made with organic produce from the Resort’s own vegetable garden and orchard and carefully selected local farms in the Maremma with a few seasonal specialities from the rest of Italy. Many of the dishes, created by the Resort’s award-winning chef Emiliano Lombardelli, are unique to the Argentario kitchen, which prides itself on producing delicious, healthy dishes accompanied by wine from the region.

Argentario’s organic olive oil & a local Tuscan pasta dish from Emiliano Lombardelli

During the day, golfers can enjoy 18 holes over the par 71, 6,218 metre course that features a front nine that weaves in and out of natural Mediterranean vegetation and ancient olive groves on the inward nine holes. Designed by the architect, David Mezzacane, and professional golfer, Baldovino Dassù, the layout is a varied, spectacular and technically challenging course.

Testament to its quality and its facilities, Argentario joined The PGA’s growing list of exceptional branded resorts as the ‘PGA National Italy’ in 2019 and earlier this year it was announced that the golf club would host the Italian Open on the DP World Tour in 2025.

Then in the evening, guests can indulge in Emiliano’s delicious dishes at the stylish Club House Restaurant that overlooks the 9thgreen with views of the Orbetello Lagoon. Here each meal is begun with local homemade bread and the extra virgin spicy olive oil, made from fruit harvested from the ancient olive trees that line the Argentario golf course, which employs only organic practices.

Some of the Club House Restaurant’s mouth-watering plates include traditional Roman pinsa with cured ham and organic mozzarellaand roasted octopus as an antipasto, followed by pastas such as homemade green ravioli filled with pink shrimps in Mediterranean sauce and tortelli filled with ricotta cheese and chard in ragu Maremma style.

For the second course, one of the standout dishes is braised veal cheek in wine sauce accompanied by celery root. The gastronomic experience concludes with a choice of homemade desserts such as the Club House tiramisu.

“Our menus change in line with the seasons and according to the vegetables and aromatic herbs harvested in our vegetable garden. At Easter, for example, we will have asparagus, artichokes, courgettes and various types of aubergines that are paired with all our Mediterranean aromatic herbs including basil, thyme, parsley, sage and marjoram. In late spring, we will have peas and celery as well as fruits such as peaches, apricots, pears and plums,” explains head chef Emiliano Lombardelli, who was born and grew up locally.

The 13th hole at the Argentario Golf Course (l) and the stylish, comfortable surroundings of the Argentario Club House Restaurant

The package also includes an element of wellbeing as all guests have access to the 2,700 metre square spa and all its services and facilities, as well as the use of the golf driving range, padel and tennis courts, mini football pitch and jogging paths around the property,

This half board package includes:

  • Buffet breakfast
  • A daily 4-course dinner (beverages excluded) at the Club House Restaurant
  • Spa Access
  • Use of driving range, padel and tennis courts, mini football and jogging paths
  • Indoor garage parking (upon availability and reservation) or outdoor parking (no reservation required)
  • Wi-Fi internet

For those seeking an alternative dining option outside the Half Board package, the Resort is also home to the Dama Dama Restaurant. This fine-dining haven celebrates the fusion of traditional local ingredients with premium international products, including the likes of Tahitian vanilla and Sichuan pepper. Each dish is carefully presented in a creative and modern fashion, ensuring that the dining experience at the Dama Dama is a captivating journey through both the local terroir and cuisine; a sensory experience that excites the palate and takes you to the heart of gastronomic delight.

Whilst for those wanting to take a taste of the Argentario ‘Farm to Table’ offering back home, the Resort also offers Foodie Boxes that include Argentario extra virgin olive oil, jars of wild boar ragu typical of the Maremma region and cabbage soup made with ingredients from the onsite organic farm. The boxes also make delicious presents to give to friends and family and can be viewed at

“In addition to being farmed organically, the olive groves on our property are grown in a very particular type of valley that features both high and low Mediterranean scrub that experts have found creates an oil that is the absolute essence of the Mediterranean,” comments Nicola Alocci, the Resort’s in-house expert taster of olive oil. “The cultivars from which we harvest our fruit are made up of three types from Tuscany and one from Lazio as Argentario is on the border between these two regions, which combine to give the oil its unique and distinctive flavour.”

Argentario is the first 5-star Resort in Italy and one of the few Golf Resorts in Europe to belong to the golf portfolio of the largest and most prestigious hospitality group in the world, the Marriott International group. As a member of Marriott Bonvoy, guests benefit from a loyalty program that allows all travellers to collect points and transform them into benefits, free stays and much more.

Argentario is just 90 minutes by car from Rome Fiumicino Airport and two hours from Rome Ciampino Airport.

To book a Tuscan vacation, call the Resort on t: +39 0564 810292 or e: