by Andrea Doyle | January 04, 2016
Lush fairways, sand traps, and divots are common sights on a golf course. But colorful mushrooms, the Cheshire Cat, and Mad Hatter?

That's exactly what was featured in "Welcome to Wonderland," an evening party at the Tranquilo Golf Club during Engage!15, a luxury wedding-business summit held at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort in November.

"Being able to use the golf course space opened up a world of options to the creative team to have a blank canvas in which to design an incredible experience for our discerning guests -- 350 of the world's top event producers," says Rebecca Grinnals, founder and president of Engaging Concepts, who attended the event. The Celebration, FL-based company provides strategic consulting to the wedding industry.A "down the rabbit hole" experience awaited guests as they walked to the driving range from the main resort, with appetizers and drinks along the way, accompanied by props and music.

"Once at the driving range, we could spread out under the star-filled sky on the manicured lawn," adds Grinnals. "An added bonus was the Disney fireworks just a few miles away."

"Welcome to Wonderland" seems like a pretty peculiar way for a meeting group to use a golf course. But while golf remains a go-to activity for networking, incentives, and executive retreats, planners are finding that these courses can serve many other purposes. To appeal to a broader range of attendees beyond die-hard fairway fans, planners are getting more creative to get meetings on the green.

Driving Range
Less Alice in Wonderland and more car showroom best describes Michigan's Grand Traverse Resort and Spa's Spruce Run golf course in a recent summer, when it played host to the Porsche Club of America's Porsche Parade.

For the 10-day event, 200 Porsches were rolled out on the green for the Concours d'Elegance (the French tradition of the "concourse of elegance" going back to the 17th century when horse-drawn carriages were displayed in Parisian parks).

"A golf course is the perfect setting for this event as it has the vistas that are perfect for photo ops. Plus, there is the space needed for attendees to walk around the cars," explains Ann Arbor, MI-based Frances Palms Kish, Porsche Club of America's facilities chair.

The recently renovated Trump National Doral Miami served as similar backdrop for vehicles in September -- though these weren't exactly Porsches. On the property's Imperial Ballroom's lawn , just off the first tee of Trump National Doral's legendary Blue Monster golf course, food trucks were lined up as part of the Associated Luxury Hotel International's annual Industry Advisory Council. atAttendees chose from the wide range of food truck fare on offer, and sipped on beverages served from a wooden painted bar. Again, the open air and manicured lawn offered an ideal setting for the gathering.