By Beth Buehler
Colorado’s abundance of sunshine, fair-weather days and amazing golf courses make it the perfect place to integrate the outdoors with meetings and events. This is the second of two blogs about successfully integrating golf into an itinerary, and we headed straight for another resort golf pro for the answers.
Destination Colorado asked Nate Erickson, PGA, head golf professional at Cheyenne Mountain Colorado Springs, A Dolce Resort, about his top tips for planning golf with a meeting event, including ideas for involving non-golfers in the group.
DC: What are your top three tips for planners looking at hosting golf events for their corporate, nonprofit or association group?
NE: EXPECTATIONS: Know what your vision is going into the planning process, such as what time of day, any type of food or drinks, how many players, level of ability in the group, what kind of prizes you may want to offer, etc.
COST: Have a per-player budget in mind.
GOLF KNOWLEDGE: Have a person on your planning team who actually golfs and knows what types of questions to ask.
DC: What makes Colorado and your golf course special for golf outings?
NE: Our 18-hole course is on a private 35-acre lake, and water comes into play on five of the back nine, giving an extra challenge. Being at the base of Cheyenne Mountain, golfers also have spectacular views of the Rocky Mountain Front Range. Also, our course is Pete Dye’s first west of the Mississippi and has his trademark bunker placements and railroad ties.
DC: How can non-golfers be involved in a fun way in a golf outing?
NE: They can take photos of the group during the event, ask for a quick lesson from one of the golf pros, get a set of rental clubs and practice on the driving range and volunteer to help coordinate the event. Non-golfers can work the registration desk, hand out beverages, etc., and it’s a great way to meet everyone. In the past, we’ve set up a miniature golf course near the clubhouse for non-golfers to play while everyone else is out on the course because everyone can play a game of putt putt!
DC: Why should planners consider a golf outing/activity for their groups’ itineraries?
NE: If you want to get to know someone, you play a round of golf with that individual. It’s great for team-building because you can pair people up from different divisions or departments. A scramble format really lends itself to team-building. You take the best shot from four players, so it’s low pressure, fun and a great way to get outdoors and enjoy our spectacular views.
DC: Anything else?
NE: If everyone in the group has different levels of ability, we can do fun things like longest drive, closest putt to the pin, longest putt with an antique hickory shaft putter, etc. (kind of like Top Golf), instead of a standard 18-hole game.
Other Things to Consider
For many years, Destination Colorado’s annual Customer Appreciation Event involved a golf tournament that moved to various courses around the state. I liked how the group came together for meals and social gatherings, with non-golfers taking part in activities like a cooking competition.
For planners seeking the important trio of lodging, meeting space and golf (and the option of tapping into other activities), head straight for hotels and resorts that have golf courses. In addition to Cheyenne Mountain Colorado Springs, A Dolce Resort, other good options in Colorado Springs are Garden of the Gods Collection and The Broadmoor. For the Denver metropolitan area, consider Hilton Denver Inverness in Englewood and Omni Interlocken Hotel in Broomfield.
Golf courses owned and/or operated by Colorado ski resorts also provide great options in the mountains, plus golf balls fly farther at higher altitudes! Check out Copper Creek Golf Course at Copper Mountain Resort, Telluride Golf Club, and the four golf courses operated by Vail Resorts Hospitality including Beaver Creek Golf Club, Red Sky Golf Club (10 miles west of Beaver Creek), Keystone Ranch Golf Course and The River Course at Keystone.
Work with golf course staff to put together just the right option for your group, whether it is a tournament, best ball or just tee times for those who want to play. There is no need to wade through this process alone when there are experts at the ready. Don’t be afraid to add some fun, like having sponsors for each hole, food and beverage stationed along the way, prizes for best-dressed team and perhaps matching shirts or hats for attendees/golfers representing various divisions and companies.
My parents enjoyed having a vacation home on a golf course for many years in Arizona, and one of the highlights each year was a golf cart parade. This could be a fun team-building activity in the late afternoon after play is over and when the course can spare the carts. Last fall, I watched a corporate group building canoes out of all sorts of materials and racing them in one of the pools at Cheyenne Mountain Colorado Springs. I’m sure they talked about it long after the meetings were over!
The sales and conference teams at Colorado hotels and resorts like those mentioned can help plug groups into golf and additional activities like spa treatments, yoga, hikes, horseback rides and more. It’s a win-win for everyone when golf is on the meetings menu.