As a sport, golf has taken some hits in recent years — some view it as too expensive or too elitist — but the game is making a comeback in a big way. Deals are still done on the golf course, and golf is often still part of meetings.
The South is particularly attractive for golf, with its mild weather and year-round greens. Golf destinations are trying to make the greens more accessible, from golf classes and workshops to inclusive options like foot golf, night golf and driving ranges that double as entertainment venues.
Williamsburg, Virginia, may be most famous for Colonial Williamsburg, the living, historic re-creation of a Revolutionary-era town; but the city is also known for golf, and planners can include the best of both in their events.
The Golden Horseshoe Golf Club at Colonial Williamsburg features 45 holes over three courses, all designed by the father-and-son team of Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Rees Jones. The Gold Course is the most popular and reopened this past July after extensive renovation. Other options include the 18-hole Green Course and the nine-hole Spotswood Course.
The club offers group lessons, clinics, structured tournaments, night golf and casual receptions on the driving range, said Dominique Holt, associate director of conference sales and marketing for Visit Williamsburg.
Of Colonial Williamsburg’s six hotels, three have meeting space. The Williamsburg Lodge, which recently became part of the Marriott Autograph Collection, is the most popular for meetings, Holt said, and has the most event space, with 45,000 square feet.
Near the Gold Course and clubhouse, the Williamsburg Inn is a luxury property with 6,500 square feet of meeting space, the largest of which is the 3,900-square-foot Regency Room. The Williamsburg Woodlands hotel has a conference center with 13,000 square feet of flexible function space.
Five miles away, on the banks of the historic James River, Kingsmill Resort has two 18-hole golf courses as well as a golf academy and year-round golf school.
“The River Course is literally on the river, and it is one of the most beautiful courses you’ll see,” Holt said. The resort’s 16,000-square-foot, IACC-certified conference center also delivers river views, and the 6,050-square-foot James River Grand Ballroom can be split into four smaller rooms.
Ford’s Colony Country Club has 54 holes on three courses designed by Dan Maples, and the club has a variety of event spaces, including a 78-capacity banquet room, a 60-person dining room and the Garden Pavilion, which can host events for up to 220 guests.
Golden Isles, Georgia
Four islands comprise Georgia’s Golden Isles: St. Simons, Little St. Simons, Sea Island and Jekyll Island, as well as the mainland peninsula that is home to the historic city of Brunswick.
Both Sea Island and Little St. Simons Island are private and accessible only to guests of the islands’ resorts. St. Simons Island is the largest and most populated Golden Isle, so it’s popular with visitors who want to be in the middle of the action. The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort is a beachfront property on the island. The resort’s largest event space, the 2,880-square-foot Lanier Ballroom, has a large prefunction assembly area in an atrium. The resort also has several oceanfront event spaces, including the 2,655-square-foot Delegal Room on the ground floor; the second-story Retreat Room, which can seat 80 for meals; and the Oceanfront Lawn. The resort’s 18-hole course is known for its challenging layout, which features salt marshes and forests and a large lake on the ninth hole.
The Sea Palms Resort and Conference Center is also on the island, and its clubhouse, conference center and restaurant are all under one roof. The conference center’s largest space, a 3,300-square-foot ballroom, can seat up to 300 for meals, and the center has several other flexible conference rooms. Sea Palms has an 18-hole and a nine-hole course where attendees can opt to play “foot golf,” a combination of golf and soccer.
On Jekyll Island, golfers will find 63 holes of golf over four courses at the Jekyll Island Golf Club. McCormick’s Grill at the club serves breakfast and lunch and is also available for private events for up to 120 people.