. Holding an Event on a Golf Course | Successful Meetings

Holding an Event on a Golf Course

Forget having a tournament--have a reception on the links

World of Alice in Wonderland in Tranquilo Golf Club

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.


Expect the Unexpected 
Wolfdancer Golf Club at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa near Austin/Bastrop, TX doubles as a flexible event venue, an extension of the resort's function space. It is often used for teambuilding activities and receptions. Groups are attracted to the panoramic views.   

"The 12th hole overlooks the entire footprint of the resort and offers views where you can see miles and miles of Texas in the backdrop," says Kim Britton, Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa's director of sales and marketing. "Yoga is popular there as is group breakfast, a beautiful way to start the day."

 

 Games like kickball, flag football, and croquet are often organized on the driving range. "These games are great for teambuilding even for groups without a big budget. We give them a ball and they have fun," explains Britton.

Wolfdancer has surprised many a group by having bows, arrows, and a target ready on one of the greens. There have even been instances where trap shooting was set up. "These are highly competitive people and just when they think they have their score card tipped up, it's all shaken up when they have to partake in archery or shooting," says Britton. "Just as nothing is guaranteed in business, this change in the game is unexpected."

Creative alternatives to the typical 18 holes abound. After enjoying nine holes at Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel, CA, a Land Rover will arrive to transport the group to a cliff where they are encouraged to hit balls off of. Then they are immersed in the Land Rover Experience Driving School where a qualified instructor guides them to make steep descents down a two-track trail, climb pile of logs, and navigate tight hairpin turns.

Golf courses are also becoming popular concert venues. An example is the Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club in Portland, OR, the site of Ten Grands on the Green in early 2015, where ten of the most accomplished pianists in the world performed music ranging from classical, jazz, new age, to pop contemporary arranged by composer and musician Michael Allen Harrison. The concert was such a success that it is returning to the green in 2016.

"Golf courses are beautiful venues for much more than golf including good causes, team building, celebrations, and cultivating business relationships," says Cheri Brennan of Ten Grands on the Green.

With the time constraints of groups in mind, Marriott Orlando World Center offers groups FootGolf, a combination of soccer and golf that only takes about two hours to complete. The game is played with a regulation soccer ball on a golf course with 9 or 18 shortened holes and 21-inch diameter cups. The rules of FootGolf mirror the rules of regular golf with the object being to complete the course with the fewest amount of strokes or "kicks" as possible.

The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando also offers FootGolf but has added a twist. It recently arranged a Glow Golf event for a group that held with a glow-in-the-dark soccer ball at night.

Since foot golf started in June on the Kaanapali Golf course, the facility has hosted over 20 outings, including several team building events for hotel staff and several corporate groups.

For groups looking for an activity that is golf-focused although not on a course, there is Topgolf, a fast-growing premium entertainment option, rapidly becoming a popular corporate events venue. With 23 venues in the United States and United Kingdom, 75 percent of the events it hosts are corporate.

"Statistics show that the number of rounds of golf played annually has decreased," says Ryan Nowicki, Topgolf's national director of sales. "One of the reasons is a game of golf can take four to six hours. At Topgolf, groups can play by the hour. These are great outlets to get more exposure to the game of golf."


Expanded Audience
This creative use of golf courses is helping to make golf offerings appeal to a wider audience.

Everyone from golfing novices to the fanatic duffer can enjoy moonlight golf at Trump National Doral. At night, the Blue Monster Putting Green can be transformed into a glowing miniature golf course where glow-in-the-dark golf balls and clubs are used to navigate the dark terrain of the putting green, situated between the first tee and 18th green. A night driving contest can be held on hole one, lined with glowing lights.

"Golf courses in particular provide a lot of flexibility for meeting planners, with plenty of space for anything from receptions and cocktail events to sit-down dinners and special events such as concerts," says Melinda Reilly, director of group sales, Trump National Doral. "We have four 18-hole championship golf courses across our expansive 800-acre property, meaning we can host simultaneous events on the courses seamlessly. Meeting planners particularly enjoy hosting events such as our signature Moonlight Golf Group Event on the Blue Monster, our famed course, home to the PGA Tour's World Golf Championships - Cadillac Championship."

During a reception at the Association for Iron & Steel Technology (AIST)'s annual conference, attendees had the opportunity to hit glow-in-the-dark balls from a balcony into a grassy area where different size circles created with glow sticks were set up. "It was fun, everyone had a great time," says Shannon Kiley, AIST's manager of meeting services.

The Legends Walk Course at Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orange Lake Resort is a challenging nine-hole course that is far from an ordinary pitch and putt. It is the only lighted nine-hole golf course in central Florida. Night golf here offers several vantage points that allow for a full view of the Disney fireworks.

It's not uncommon to find yogis in downward dog and warrior poses on the green. Sunrise yoga on the Makai Course at the St. Regis Princeville Resort in Kauai is held on the back of the Makai's seventh hole tee box.

Another way non-golfers are enjoying the Makai course is with sunset golf cart tours. There are six scenic stops during the tour including views of the Kilauea Lighthouse, Anini Reef, numerous North Shore Beaches including Secrets, Lumahai, Haena, Anini, Hideaway, Waikoko, and Hanalei Bay.  

The Puakea Golf Course in Kauai offers disc golf, similar to traditional golf in that players "tee" off from the various sets of golf tees on the course using golf discs, instead of golf balls and clubs. A golf disc is similar to a Frisbee. Players continue to throw their disc down the course, until the are able to get it in the Disc Pole Hole, a separate area from the regular golfing green

With three award-winning courses and two full-service clubhouses in the heart of Maui's Wailea Resort, there have been instances where meeting professionals have used the Wailea Golf Club in ways that have little to do with keeping a scorecard.

This year, one planner arranged a highly exclusive and private film screening for a corporate client immediately following the star-studded Maui Film Festival at Wailea, making full use of the film festival's "Celestial Cinema," a spectacular outdoor theater set up each year at the Wailea Golf Club's 12-acre driving range, complete with a giant screen and professional sound and projection systems.

Other meeting planners have taken advantage of the golf driving range's natural amphitheater shape, private location to stage sunset picnics, complete with gourmet dinner baskets, wine, and a private concert by such performers as the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, Barenaked Ladies, and Seal.

Wailea Golf Club's grassy Molokini Lookout offers commanding views of the golf course and ocean, and is an ideal site for smaller functions. Some meeting planners have utilized its location above the driving range to coordinate exclusive evening parties accompanied by a private fireworks show launched from the range below.

Mauna Kea Resort's Mauna Kea Golf Course and Hapuna Golf Course offers a fun alternative to riding a golf cart, a GolfBoard.

New and unique team building activities at Mauna Kea Resort. With Hawaii's largest fleet of Golfboards. riders can "surf the earth" during a game of golf or during a group activity at sunset on the golf course.

The courses offer an activity that is a worthy alternative and addition to conventional golf, Aero Golf, which is golf with safety tipped, highly aerodynamic arrows, propelled by a conventional reverse curve bow, the kind most generally associated with target archery, or a compound bow.
Building Their Own
Home of THE PLAYERS Championship, birthplace of the TPC (Tournament Players Club) Network, and backdrop to the PGA TOUR headquarters, the TPC Sawgrass golf course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., is world-renowned. THE PLAYERS Stadium Course sports one of the most recognizable and challenging holes on the PGA TOUR. The notorious par-3, 17th hole, features an island green that makes or breaks many a PGA TOUR pro's round.

There is not one, but two PGA TOUR championship courses at the club, both designed by world-renowned architect Pete Dye.

These factors made it all the worse when a group woke up to learn the weather wasn't conducive to a day of golf. Fortunately, TPC Sawgrass had a backup in place. The group was broken into teams and presented with the challenge of designing, building, and naming their own signature hole. Each team was given the same materials that included PVC pipe, cardboard, pipe cleaners, artificial turf, colored tissue paper, cups, Popsicle sticks, and markers.

"It was great to see these C level executives on their hands and knees getting creative," says TPC Sawgrass's Golf Group & Leisure Sales Manager Kym Jones. "The greens they made had to be playable."

The activity culminated with each team presenting their holes to a panel of judges. An added surprise was when Steven Stricker, an American professional golfer who plays on the PGA TOUR, gave each hole a try.


Expanded Audience
This creative use of golf courses is helping to make golf offerings appeal to a wider audience.

Everyone from golfing novices to the fanatic duffer can enjoy moonlight golf at Trump National Doral. At night, the Blue Monster Putting Green can be transformed into a glowing miniature golf course where glow-in-the-dark golf balls and clubs are used to navigate the dark terrain of the putting green, situated between the first tee and 18th green. A night driving contest can be held on hole one, lined with glowing lights.

"Golf courses in particular provide a lot of flexibility for meeting planners, with plenty of space for anything from receptions and cocktail events to sit-down dinners and special events such as concerts," says Melinda Reilly, director of group sales, Trump National Doral. "We have four 18-hole championship golf courses across our expansive 800-acre property, meaning we can host simultaneous events on the courses seamlessly. Meeting planners particularly enjoy hosting events such as our signature Moonlight Golf Group Event on the Blue Monster, our famed course, home to the PGA Tour's World Golf Championships - Cadillac Championship."

During a reception at the Association for Iron & Steel Technology (AIST)'s annual conference, attendees had the opportunity to hit glow-in-the-dark balls from a balcony into a grassy area where different size circles created with glow sticks were set up. "It was fun, everyone had a great time," says Shannon Kiley, AIST's manager of meeting services.

The Legends Walk Course at Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orange Lake Resort is a challenging nine-hole course that is far from an ordinary pitch and putt. It is the only lighted nine-hole golf course in central Florida. Night golf here offers several vantage points that allow for a full view of the Disney fireworks.

It's not uncommon to find yogis in downward dog and warrior poses on the green. Sunrise yoga on the Makai Course at the St. Regis Princeville Resort in Kauai is held on the back of the Makai's seventh hole tee box.

Another way non-golfers are enjoying the Makai course is with sunset golf cart tours. There are six scenic stops during the tour including views of the Kilauea Lighthouse, Anini Reef, numerous North Shore Beaches including Secrets, Lumahai, Haena, Anini, Hideaway, Waikoko, and Hanalei Bay.  

The Puakea Golf Course in Kauai offers disc golf, similar to traditional golf in that players "tee" off from the various sets of golf tees on the course using golf discs, instead of golf balls and clubs. A golf disc is similar to a Frisbee. Players continue to throw their disc down the course, until the are able to get it in the Disc Pole Hole, a separate area from the regular golfing green

With three award-winning courses and two full-service clubhouses in the heart of Maui's Wailea Resort, there have been instances where meeting professionals have used the Wailea Golf Club in ways that have little to do with keeping a scorecard.

This year, one planner arranged a highly exclusive and private film screening for a corporate client immediately following the star-studded Maui Film Festival at Wailea, making full use of the film festival's "Celestial Cinema," a spectacular outdoor theater set up each year at the Wailea Golf Club's 12-acre driving range, complete with a giant screen and professional sound and projection systems.

Other meeting planners have taken advantage of the golf driving range's natural amphitheater shape, private location to stage sunset picnics, complete with gourmet dinner baskets, wine, and a private concert by such performers as the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, Barenaked Ladies, and Seal.

Wailea Golf Club's grassy Molokini Lookout offers commanding views of the golf course and ocean, and is an ideal site for smaller functions. Some meeting planners have utilized its location above the driving range to coordinate exclusive evening parties accompanied by a private fireworks show launched from the range below.

Mauna Kea Resort's Mauna Kea Golf Course and Hapuna Golf Course offers a fun alternative to riding a golf cart, a GolfBoard.

New and unique team building activities at Mauna Kea Resort. With Hawaii's largest fleet of Golfboards. riders can "surf the earth" during a game of golf or during a group activity at sunset on the golf course.

The courses offer an activity that is a worthy alternative and addition to conventional golf, Aero Golf, which is golf with safety tipped, highly aerodynamic arrows, propelled by a conventional reverse curve bow, the kind most generally associated with target archery, or a compound bow.

Mini Golf Celebrate its Centennial
This year marks the US centennial for miniature golf. "Is miniature golf a game or a sport?  It is referred to both ways, but whatever it is called, miniature golf has been played and revered by millions over the past 100 years," states Arne Lundmark, CEO and chief designer, Adventure Golf Services an international design build company that creates custom miniature golf course designs.  "Adventure Golf Services is leading the launch of an industry-wide program to celebrate 100 years of miniature golf, its place in pop culture, and its contribution to family entertainment."

A Facebook page has been created to commemorate the anniversary.


Expect the Unexpected 
Wolfdancer Golf Club at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa near Austin/Bastrop, TX doubles as a flexible event venue, an extension of the resort's function space. It is often used for teambuilding activities and receptions. Groups are attracted to the panoramic views.   

"The 12th hole overlooks the entire footprint of the resort and offers views where you can see miles and miles of Texas in the backdrop," says Kim Britton, Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa's director of sales and marketing. "Yoga is popular there as is group breakfast, a beautiful way to start the day."

 

Breakfast on the 12th hole
at Wolfdancer Golf Club
Breakfast on the 12th hole at Wolfdancer Golf Club

 Games like kickball, flag football, and croquet are often organized on the driving range. "These games are great for teambuilding even for groups without a big budget. We give them a ball and they have fun," explains Britton.

Wolfdancer has surprised many a group by having bows, arrows, and a target ready on one of the greens. There have even been instances where trap shooting was set up. "These are highly competitive people and just when they think they have their score card tipped up, it's all shaken up when they have to partake in archery or shooting," says Britton. "Just as nothing is guaranteed in business, this change in the game is unexpected."

Creative alternatives to the typical 18 holes abound. After enjoying nine holes at Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel, CA, a Land Rover will arrive to transport the group to a cliff where they are encouraged to hit balls off of. Then they are immersed in the Land Rover Experience Driving School where a qualified instructor guides them to make steep descents down a two-track trail, climb pile of logs, and navigate tight hairpin turns.

Golf courses are also becoming popular concert venues. An example is the Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club in Portland, OR, the site of Ten Grands on the Green in early 2015, where ten of the most accomplished pianists in the world performed music ranging from classical, jazz, new age, to pop contemporary arranged by composer and musician Michael Allen Harrison. The concert was such a success that it is returning to the green in 2016.

"Golf courses are beautiful venues for much more than golf including good causes, team building, celebrations, and cultivating business relationships," says Cheri Brennan of Ten Grands on the Green.

With the time constraints of groups in mind, Marriott Orlando World Center offers groups FootGolf, a combination of soccer and golf that only takes about two hours to complete. The game is played with a regulation soccer ball on a golf course with 9 or 18 shortened holes and 21-inch diameter cups. The rules of FootGolf mirror the rules of regular golf with the object being to complete the course with the fewest amount of strokes or "kicks" as possible.

The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando also offers FootGolf but has added a twist. It recently arranged a Glow Golf event for a group that held with a glow-in-the-dark soccer ball at night.

Since foot golf started in June on the Kaanapali Golf course, the facility has hosted over 20 outings, including several team building events for hotel staff and several corporate groups.

For groups looking for an activity that is golf-focused although not on a course, there is Topgolf, a fast-growing premium entertainment option, rapidly becoming a popular corporate events venue. With 23 venues in the United States and United Kingdom, 75 percent of the events it hosts are corporate.

"Statistics show that the number of rounds of golf played annually has decreased," says Ryan Nowicki, Topgolf's national director of sales. "One of the reasons is a game of golf can take four to six hours. At Topgolf, groups can play by the hour. These are great outlets to get more exposure to the game of golf."