Skiing and golf have a lot of things in common, but one of the things most travelers overlook in golf is the concept of regional and nationwide passes. In skiing these have been wildly popular, and these days, most frequent skiers buy one. I have written extensively on the leaders, Ikon Pass and Epic Pass, and most recently, the best ski resorts to use these passes at this winter if you have one.
But golf has a similar concept that far few travelers know about – despite the fact that it is 25 years old and predates its ski peers – and this is the time of year to consider it, since it is an annual investment and New Year’s is coming fast.
Just as the most popular ski passes are offered by the two biggest operators in the ski industry, Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company, the golf industry’s leading frequent player program comes from Troon Golf, the global leader in golf course management. Troon is to golf what brands like Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton are to the hotel industry, bringing a high level of customer service, facilities, food and beverage, amenities and course conditions to the more than 750 golf courses it operates in more than 30 countries and nearly every U.S. state.
It is not only the world’s largest professional club (private and public) management company, it has many of the best resorts and courses on its roster. These include many Top 100 ranked stunners (2022 Golf Magazine, Golf Digest or Golfweek lists) such as Gamble Sands, The Quarry, Cascata, Princeville, Tetherow, Quintero, Wilderness Club, Giants Ridge, Wickenburg Ranch, and a favorite of mine, the Plantation Course at Kapalua, the number one ranked course in Hawaii. In the Scottsdale area, one of the nation’s best golf road trip destinations, they run the table with Troon North (36), Ak-Chin Southern Dunes, the Phoenician, the Boulders (36), Papago, Quintero, Kierland, whirlwind and more. Ditto for Hawaii: Kapalua (36), Ka’anapali (36), Mauna Lani (36), Princeville, and several others.
The Troon Card is not the same as a skiing pass in that it does not give you unlimited free rounds (I wish!), but it has similar geographic breadth and cost savings appeal for frequent golfers and especially golf travelers. All versions of Troon Cards also cover Troon’s international locations, such as the superlative Dumbarnie Links in Scotland’s St. Andrews, Spain’s famous Finca Cortesin, the new PGA National in the Czech Republic, and what is fast becoming one of the hottest destination golf resorts in the world, Greece’s Costa Navarino, which includes three 5-Star hotels and four 18-hole courses – and has a Mandarin Oriental on the way. There are courses in Australia, Central America, Mexico, Asia, and the Middle East, while notable Caribbean resorts include Bahia Beach and Rio Mar in Puerto Rico, the Ocean Club and Baha Mar Royal Blue in the Bahamas and PGA Ocean’s 4 in the Dominican Republic.
The National Troon Card is the top tier version, good at every public facility in the Troon network, more than 150 Troon-affiliated courses worldwide. For those who are planning a single road trip or stay closer to home, Troon cards also come in several lower priced regional and state versions (again, just like skiing): Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, and West Coast regions, plus state cards for Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas/Missouri, and New York. In addition, some state-specific cards also include nearby “bonus states” as well as international. For instance, Hawaii includes Nevada and Oregon, while Arizona includes Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.
All are available as either a TwoSome or a FourSome Card (for two or four golfers to enjoy preferred pricing). Card benefits include up to 50 percent off the standard rate for the Cardholder and a guest at all participating Troon-managed and affiliated courses for tee times up to three days in advance. For those who want to plan further out, advance tee times can be booked with Troon Card’s Best Rate Guarantee and 15 percent off golf fees at check in. Troon Cardholders also enjoy exclusive heavily discounted replay rates (from just $25), cardholder only 9-hole and twilight rates, and complimentary clinics to help improve their golf game. Cardholders can treat their friends to “2 for 1” golf offers (five times a year for regional cards, 10 for the National) and celebrate their birthday in style with a 25% “birthday round” discount. Additional savings include 10% off merchandise at participating golf shops and golf course restaurants, 25% off club rentals, and a new benefit added for 2023, discounts of up to 35% off Avis car rentals.
As a way of honoring and thanking first responders as well as active duty, veterans, reserve and U.S. military retirees, a specially priced Patriot Troon Card is available. The similar discounted Inspire Troon Card is for healthcare professionals and teachers. A portion of all proceeds from Patriot and Inspire Troon Card sales will be donated to charitable organizations that support military (Folds of Honor Foundation), first responders (Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation), healthcare professionals (Direct Relief) and teachers (Donors Choose).
The National Card is $699 for two and $999 for four, while the state cards range from $79-$869 depending on the number of golfers and state chosen. The regional cards offer some of the best values, and the West Coast is $189/$239 and includes California, Oregon, Washington and Utah. The Northeast ($199/$299) includes New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, and Virginia. The Southeast ($129/$189) includes Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee. The Midwest ($99/$149) includes Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Cards are now on sale and are good through the end of 2023.