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The New Status of Golf Experiences

By Beth Buehler & Mike Munzenrider

Clubs, courses, and nontraditional formats for forging links.

Pre-COVID, some wondered if golf was stuck in the rough. But something happened as people sought to get outdoors and had more time on their hands. What does this mean for golf as an activity for groups? Support for golf is strong on both traditional courses and increasingly popular at off-course spots like Topgolf, indoor simulators, and miniature golf venues with a twist.

Colorado Automobile Dealers Association (CADA) hosts an annual golf event that moves around the state for its new car and truck dealer members, with the next scheduled for September. Members play for free, and organizations that provide products and services to the industry can purchase sponsorships that include golf registrations. The golf outing features a morning shotgun start followed by lunch and awards. Highlights include high-end prizes provided for hole-in-one and closest-to-the-pin contests, and money gathered for all mulligans sold goes to Clear the Air Foundation.   

“People who love to play golf never tire of it,” says Marsha Temple, chief operating officer of CADA. “Since the association pays for the dealer members to play, they look forward to it every year. It also provides an opportunity for the dealers who seldom leave their stores an opportunity to socialize with other dealers and network with their business vendors.”

“Even golfers who aren’t particularly skilled at the game love to play with their peers, coworkers, business partners, et cetera,” Temple adds. “It gets them out of their stores or offices and into the beautiful weather laughing, sharing stories, and competing.  They love it, and we wouldn’t dream of dropping it.”

Here are a few Colorado examples of clubs, courses, and golf-related activities that bring groups together.

More Traditional Options

The Broadmoor Golf Club

“The golf industry, with our events and corporate groups, is very strong,” says Lindsey Pevey, tournament events manager at The Broadmoor Golf Club in Colorado Springs. “It’s probably 70% of our business.”  The Broadmoor is unique in what it has to offer for meetings plus golf. It boasts two courses, unique amenities like club valet, and a growing portfolio of meeting space, including the new 125,000-square-foot Bartolin Hall, bringing the resort’s total meeting and event space to more than 315,000 square feet.  

With two 18-hole golf courses nestled in the Cheyenne Mountain foothills, there is always somewhere for club members and guests to play, even when The Broadmoor is hosting events like the PGA’s U.S. Senior Open or U.S. Women’s Open. 

“We basically have a great place for golf and a great place for meetings,” says Pevey. Beyond the regular rounds, popular activities for experienced and lay golfers alike include clinics at the driving range, three-hole scramble tournaments that end with dinner, and nighttime putting, which works well with receptions. Beyond the golf, Pevey notes the resort also offers fly fishing, ziplining, falconry classes, and more. 

Golf Club at Omni
Interlocken Hotel

Just northwest of Denver in Broomfield, the Golf Club at Omni Interlocken Hotel has 27 holes of championship golf alongside 40,000 square feet of meeting space. The club’s three nine-hole courses (Eldorado,   Vista, and Sunshine) feature more than 400 feet of elevation change and were designed by U.S. Open champion David Graham and PGA Senior Tour pro Gary Panks. Relax after a round at the Omni’s spa, fitness center, or resort-style pools, and get down to business in the 40,000 square feet of meeting space, with the largest holding 700 for a seated dinner or 945 for a reception.

Vail Golf Club

Designed and built by Ben Krueger, one of Vail’s pioneers, Vail Golf Club’s course offers 18 holes of golf set amidst the White River National Forest and along Gore Creek. The club is open to the public, caters to players of all skill levels, and features a full-length driving range, large putting green, chipping and sand trap practice area, and video swing analysis.

Vail Golf & Nordic Clubhouse includes the 2,700-square-foot Gore Range Room that can accommodate up to 160 guests. Planners can lean on The Grill on the Gore in-house catering team, which utilizes vegetables and herbs grown in on-site gardens. An outdoor patio and lawn are great for mingling and cocktails as well as non-golf endeavors such as bocce ball and cornhole.

The Club at Inverness

For the last three years, Meeting Professionals International Rocky Mountain Chapter (MPIRMC) has held its annual golf tournament at The Club at Inverness, part of Hilton Denver Inverness in Englewood, which has 302 guest rooms and more than 49,000 square feet of meeting and event space. This year’s event, scheduled for May 19, includes breakfast, a morning shotgun start, and an awards luncheon. Attendees not playing in the tournament can take part in a cornhole tournament, putting contest, golf clinic, and spa options.

“We have been blessed to have the Inverness’ partnership through the pandemic with great rates, sponsored lunch, and space,” says Freddie Templeton, MPIRMC executive director. “Before that, we have moved around including The Ridge at Castle Pines, Arrowhead, Keystone, The Broadmoor, Red Rocks, and more.”

“Golf is a great, fun way to network with clients in a safe outdoor setting. MPI was looking for other fundraising opportunities to change it up from golf when COVID hit, and we realized this is the one sport that flourished through the pandemic,” Templeton adds. “MPI had 120 at the 2021 tournament held completely outside, and we expect to surpass that this year.”

The Next Round of Golf

Topgolf and other off-course options also are driving new interest in the sport. They are social, don’t require much, if any, golf experience, and take less time than playing 18 holes.

The Denver metropolitan area is home to two Topgolf locations: Thornton to the north and Centennial to the south. Both of the three-story, gamified driving ranges feature 100-plus climate-controlled hitting bays, full-service restaurants and bars, rooftop terraces with fire pits, and private meeting and event space. Colorado Springs has the newest Topgolf location, which has a slightly smaller profile with two stories and more than 70 hitting bays.

Make your group’s golf outing virtual at Topgolf Swing Suites found at Grand Hyatt Vail and Tom’s Watch Bar Denver Coors Field. Topgolf Swing Suites feature large screens, the ability to play multisport games including golf, HDTVs, lounge seating, and food and beverage options.

As golf continues to attract more new players, it could be a driving force behind your next gathering