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Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006

A site for the swingers

Saturday, May 30, 1998
BY DICK SNYDER

GOLF Travel Online considers itself the "premier site for online golf vacations." The company provides a variety of package deals, which can be booked online, as well as articles on the game, and mini-profiles of hot courses. The current edition of the U.S. Web site hypes Canada as a worthy destination. Recommendations include The Algonquin in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, N.B., the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta and Le Chateau Montebello in Quebec.

Many U.S. golf Web sites give Canada short shrift, so it's nice to see such recognition, even if one of the main draws at Whistler is "all the Cubans you want -- legally." Apparently, 95 per cent of the customers at Whistler's Old Village Cigar and Tobacco Company are from the United States. This information comes courtesy of a nice feature at Golf Travel Online: As well as listing vacation packages, the site provides an "Après Golf" article on what to do in Whistler after the game.

But the meat and potatoes of the site is, of course, golf. There are all kinds of handy ways to search for the perfect outing: by destination, rate and course attributes (including rolling hills, desert and tropical). Every course has a picture and extensive information on the course and resort, how to get there and a weather roundup.

A "Travel Package Store" includes such headings as "Real Steals," "Golf at Four Seasons" and "The Works." On offer under Real Steals is unlimited golf at the Etowah Valley Country Club and Lodge in Hendersonville, N.C., for $91.75 (U.S.) per person, per night (double occupancy, four-night stay, Sunday through Wednesday). International packages are also available.

A slightly different take on the golf-package online concept can be found at the Golf.Com site. Golf.Com has a travel section that provides a listing service free of charge to resorts and clubs. Beware: These haven't been vetted or reviewed, as have been the packages at Golf Travel Online.

The "Courses" section at Golf.Com provides information on more than 25,000 courses in the United States, Canada and Australia. Keep in mind that green fees are in U.S. dollars: so the $100 (U.S.) for a weekend round at Ontario's Glen Abbey course, for instance, is actually $155 plus taxes in Canadian dollars.

International package deals include a seven-day tour of Scotland for $3,095 a person. That may sound like a lot, but the pictures and descriptions at the Golf.Com site may convince you otherwise. (Although there are no details on just what is included with a "full Scottish breakfast.") Many have already appear to have been enticed: The Aug. 1 departure date has sold out. The June 20 outing, however, still has some spaces available.
Golf Travel Online: http://gto.com
Golf.Com Travel: http://golf.com/travel/
Dick Snyder can be reached by E-mail at dsnyder@globeandmail.ca .

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