Courtesy The Annika Academy
No question. Golf can be a great link, a game that connects people as they compete. There are times though, when a traditional round of 18 holes isn’t the best fit. Maybe time is short. Money is tight. Perhaps not everyone at the gathering is a golfer. How will they while away an afternoon? Or for a record-breaking sales team, does a regular round of golf really sum up the company’s appreciation? Golf professionals have learned that there’s more than one way to add golf to a meeting. Here are four ideas.
Pop a cork, make a putt
Bottles of bubbly, a putting green in the Virginia mountains, a golf pro and a sommelier are the ingredients for Keswick Hall’s Champagne Putting Contest.
The luxury resort near Charlottesville, Va., saw a need for an after-meeting event that would entertain golfers and nongolfers alike.
“You don’t have to be a great golfer to have a bit of fun, sip a nice glass of wine [or champagne] and enjoy the view,” said Joey Worley, director of sales and marketing.
And, says Worley, you don’t even have to serve champagne. Glasses of Virginia wine and mint juleps fashioned with Kentucky bourbon have proved worthy substitutes.
When meetings end, attendees wander out to the practice green of the resort’s Arnold Palmer-design course, where they are met by a resort golf professional and its sommelier.
The golf pro shares tips on putting; the sommelier describes qualities and tastes of various beverages.
Typically, hors d’oeuvres are served, turning the event into a predinner reception or happy hour.
“Typically these events are held mid- to late afternoon after folks have been in a meeting and are ready for a cocktail and a snack,” said Worley.
Food served has ranged from simple cheeses and crudites to miniature grilled-cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, a comfort food combo chosen by a group that met in the fall.
Typically, the Champagne Putting Event lasts 90 minutes; golfers can test some of the tips they are given during the putting contest as they sip their drinks. Groups as small as eight and as large as 40 have enjoyed their time on the putting green.
“A lot of groups have experienced golfers but also people who could care less,” Worley said. “This is a fun way to get everybody involved.”
Sun never sets at Shawnee
The fall of darkness does not bring the golf day to an end at Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains.
About five years ago, the historic resort lighted its six-hole, par 3 course; a 12-station driving range; and its putting green. Now, groups that spend their days in meetings can spend their evenings playing a round on the par 3 or practicing their drives or putts.
In May, for example, 15 attendees of a Travel Trippers meeting picked up their clubs at the resort’s golf shack at 9 p.m. for a round on the par 3, called the Chip and Putt Course.
Although it might sound like one to some, the Chip and Putt Course is not a miniature golf course. Each of its holes replicates a famous golf hole designed by A. W. Tillinghast, the golf architect for the 1911 course at Shawnee, site of the 1938 PGA Championship.
The Travel Trippers group opted to split into teams for a closest-to-the-pin contest that lasted about 90 minutes. It was a time to unwind after a day spent in meetings, followed by a dinner in the Gem and Keystone Brewpub.
“It was nice because they were able to have their golf activity at night so it didn’t interfere with the meeting,” said Molly Moore, corporate sales manager.
Play on the par 3 course is complimentary for all guests. Although glow-in-the-dark golf balls are not necessary given the lighted course, many groups opt to use them to make balls even easier to find.