Although golf is still wildly popular, the sport can be a challenge, especially when it comes to group events. That’s because not everyone plays — and not everyone plays well. But planners can easily incorporate golf into meetings and conferences in many ways: with scramble-style tournaments and putting challenges; through less-formal options, such as driving ranges and golf classes; and even with a new take on the sport, FootGolf, which is played like golf but using a soccer ball instead.
These destinations are doing all they can to help planners take advantage of the cities’ many golf options and to make the most of golf outings for attendees.
Traverse City, Michigan
Traverse City, Michigan, has plenty going for it when it comes to golf. In addition to the area’s 17 courses, the city also boasts summertime weather cooled by Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay and long-lasting summer-evening daylight.
“We have sunlight until 10 p.m., so people can do their meeting until 5 p.m. and still get in a round of golf,” said Tori Piersante, vice president of sales for Traverse City Tourism.
Seven of those 17 courses are found at two area resorts: Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, and Shanty Creek Resorts. Grand Traverse Resort and Spa has three courses, including one designed by Jack Nicklaus. Between its hotel and condominiums, the resort has 600 sleeping rooms and, in June, completed a renovation of its 186 hotel tower rooms. The resort has 85,000 square feet of meeting space, including the 19,300-square-foot Governors’ Hall ballroom and outdoor venues such as the covered Pavilion and 55th Hole. Grand Traverse also has a mobile golf simulator that can be used during meetings.
Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire covers 4,500 acres and includes three villages that have 36,000 square feet of meeting space. The original property, Lakeview Hotel and Conference Center at Summit Village, has 183 rooms and 12,000 square feet of event space. Among the resort’s four courses is the Arnold Palmer-designed Legend course. At Shanty Creek, groups also enjoy playing FootGolf, which is like golf but with a soccer ball that players kick into a 21-inch cup.
In Dublin, Ohio, everyone is Irish, and everything is green — especially its greens. Dublin is home to 10 public golf courses, and nearly all of them have meeting or event space, said Amanda Mikkelson, group sales manager for the Dublin Convention and Visitors Bureau.
History has it that the town’s founding family worked with an Irishman who named the new village in honor of his birthplace. But Dublin fully embraces the heritage that comes with the name, and one of the best places to feel like you’re playing a round on the Emerald Isle is the Golf Club of Dublin. The resort’s Tudor-style clubhouse resembles an Irish manor home surrounded by stacked stone walls and rolling, links-style greens.
The 1,850-square-foot Manor Room has floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors that deliver views of Pot-o-Gold Lake. Attached is the 680-square-foot Hearth Room, with a brick fireplace and walnut wood paneling, and Mulligan’s Pub is a traditional Irish-style pub.
Safari Golf Club is owned and operated by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, which sits just across the street from the golf course. Although the club doesn’t have much indoor event space, it does have a 150-person outdoor pavilion. The zoo has full meeting space, and planners often take advantage of zoo and golf packages for group outings and meetings, including behind-the-scenes and after-hours zoo tours, Mikkelson said.