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Golf drives business to resorts

Golf is a rarity in sports, a game where the low score gets the highest reward. When it comes to choosing a golf resort for a meeting or convention, however, the reverse is true. The higher the number of golf holes the better.

Resorts with 36 and even 54 holes of golf — in other words, two or more 18-hole courses — give a meeting planner and players more options.
Golf resorts with multiple courses tend to choose different designers for each course, creating layouts of different styles and challenges. Multiple courses typically ensure a course that suits most every golfer, regardless of skill level. Not to mention golf resorts that have made an investment in two or more courses show a serious commitment to the game and to players.

Here’s a look at five golf resorts that offer multiple courses.

Seaview Resort and Spa

Having two golf courses is nice. Having two courses that are different in terms of design is nicer. And nicer still, as Seaview Resort and Spa has found, is having two courses of different design coupled with a dose of history and a seaside location.
Eight miles from Atlantic City, N.J., Seaview Resort and Spa began as a country club almost 100 years ago; today, it is a full-scale resort with 297 guest rooms, 27,000 square feet of meeting space and two of the state’s oldest golf courses. Troon Golf manages the courses, which also have private members.

Michael Tidwell, director of sales, has played both the Bay and Pine courses this summer. Tidwell is new to the resort, arriving when Dolce took over its management from Marriott International in early May.
He describes the older Bay course, opened in 1914 and designed by Donald Ross, as a “beautiful, wide-open course, forgiving to some extent.” It takes players along Reed’s Bay and is more suited to beginning players than the resort’s Pines course, a William Gordo design. That course, “carved out of a pine forest and less forgiving,” offers golfers “a lot of trouble, a lot of bunkers,” said Tidwell.

The challenges don’t deter the resort’s meeting clientele. Tidwell has spent the past few weeks reviewing the resort’s meeting history. “Almost every small [15 to 30 rooms] meeting group had golf involved in its program,” he said.
(609) 652-1800

French Lick Resort

The opening of a Pete Dye-design golf course on one of Indiana’s highest hilltops in April has further elevated French Lick Resort in French Lick, bringing even more attention to the $500 million remake of two historic resorts and their combined 115,000 square feet of meeting and event space and 686 guest rooms.

The views are wide at the Pete Dye course, which opened this spring at French Lick Resort.

Courtesy French Lick Resort

“The course had been in the works for nearly two years,” said Adina Cloud, director of sales. “We had people making tee times a year in advance to get on the course with their groups.”

Board of directors meetings, retreats and social golf outings are on the increase at French Lick, and Cloud credits the Dye course, the resort’s second 18-hole layout. (There’s also a 9-hole course, good for youth and novice golfers.)
The resort’s original Donald Ross course and the Dye course form a duo that allows French Lick to compete at a higher level, vying for business with Wisconsin’s Kohler Resort and other well-known golf getaways, said Cloud.

With the Dye course comes a new clubhouse, a restored historic home perched at the course’s highest point with views from every angle. Dinners and receptions held there must be tied to a golf event.
Guests and golfers share a view that surprises those who believe that Indiana is nothing but flat corn fields. “You are standing here ready to tee off, and you see the treetops for miles and miles away below you,” Cloud said.
Of course, the Dye Course isn’t for every golfer. It is challenging and expensive: $350 per round. And, because of the wear and tear, golf scrambles and similar events are not held on the Dye course.

It will, however, be the site of the 2010 PGA Championship, an honor that is garnering the resort and the course additional attention.

(888) 936-9360

The Broadmoor

It takes three golf courses to handle the demand at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., one of the West’s largest and best-known golf resorts, with 742 rooms and 185,000 square feet of function and meeting space.
Set in the Rocky Mountains, the Broadmoor’s East, West and Mountain courses are scenic by nature. The most dramatic is the Mountain course, carved into a mountainside. Originally built in 1975, it was completely reworked by Nicklaus Design a few years ago to cure perennial drainage issues.
“You realize [on this course] that you are really in the mountains. You can see Kansas from the course,” said golf pro Russ Miller.
Miller likes the Mountain course for groups with more time and players from other parts of the country who will enjoy the mountain views. The course is a 10-minute drive from the hotel, so it isn’t quite as convenient as the East and West courses, which start at a clubhouse at the resort.
The Mountain course is also a nice fit for a small group that wants to end its golf outing with a private gathering in the course’s small, rustic-style clubhouse.
The East Course, site of the U.S. Women’s Open (1995, 2011), attracts those who like to play courses where championships have been held. It is a Donald Ross/ Robert Trent Jones Sr. design. Women and older players gravitate to the West course, also a Ross/Jones Sr. layout.

Like most golf resorts, the Broadmoor is seeing a decline in play. Miller is combatting the issue by packaging a round of golf with rooms and extending hours for twilight rates.

A rustic-style clubhouse on the Broadmoor’s Mountain course in Colorado Springs, Colo., is a favorite for after-golf parties and dinners.

Courtesy The Broadmoor

“We are trying to do everything we can to work with the corporate budgets and say, ‘We want you to play,’” said Miller. “A body out there is better than nobody out there.”

(719) 471-6330 or (866) 837-9520

Chateau Elan Resort and Winery

Chip Spiler, director of golf at the Chateau Elan Resort and Winery in the north Georgia foothills, 40 minutes north of Atlanta, can sketch vivid pictures of the resort’s main golf courses.
There’s the Chateau “a long course, more champion caliber than the others, a golf course where you have to use every golf club in the bag,” said Spiler.

Then there is the Woodlands. “Its fairways and greens are undulating — the only level place on the course is the tee box. It is like a roller coaster. Its greens are smaller than the Chateau’s, and the bunkers are very terrifying.”

Spiler tells it like it is, which meeting planners appreciate. Because it is a less intimidating course, Spiler often recommends the Chateau course for group outings. But he urges golfers to give the Woodlands course a try on their own time.

 “It is the favorite course for the majority of golfers who come here,” he said.

The resort’s semiprivate course, the Legends, is open to guests who don’t mind paying a little extra, but Spiler doesn’t recommend this unusual course for groups with players of varying skill levels.
Three golfers — Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead and Kathy Whitworth — each designed six holes, based on favorite holes from courses they had played. The result is a “difficult course,” Spiler said.

Fun for groups that have only a few hours is the resort’s Par 3 course. “Each hole is designed for the land; it was not some leftover piece of land,’” Spiler said.

The resort, with its 290-room inn and 25,000-square-foot conference center, is geared at meetings, and a climate-controlled pavilion that overlooks the golf courses is a good place to end a golf outing. Chateau Elan will hold 233 tournaments this year. The resort also recently became a site for the Dave Pelz Short Game School.

(678) 425-0900

Lansdowne Resort

By using dissimilar pieces of land, Lansdowne Resort in Virginia’s Loudoun County, created two 18-hole courses that differ in style and appearance.

The resort’s Robert Trent Jones Jr. course, designed by Jones, his father Robert Sr. and brother Rees, has a “level, wide open solid design that is not incredibly demanding” on the front nine, said Scott Purpura, director of golf.
The mood changes on the back nine. “It is a big loop, up and back, with elevation changes and thick forests, one of the most aestheically pretty nines you will find anywhere.”

The resort’s newer course, opened in 2005 and designed by Greg Norman, sits next to the Potomac. “It has a Carolina Low country feel that is unique to this area,” said Purpura.

Norman also designed Shark Bites, a nine-hole courses. “This is not a laydown, pitch and putt course, it is a legitimate golf course,” Purpura said. “It is fun to play and hard to play.”

With its location 30 miles from Washington and a 45,000-square-foot IACC certified conference center, the 296-room resort gets its share of meetings. It also does about 50 tournaments a year.
The 4,200-square-foot ballroom at its clubhouse is often put to use for those tournament and other golf outings, with its terrace that overlooks the Shenandoah foothills.

(877) 509-8400