This month's cover story evolved from a survey of incentive qualifiers done by our sister publication Insurance Conference Planner, which found that they preferred spas and sightseeing to golf as a recreational activity. Interestingly, of the 301 respondents, 81 percent were men.

“What's going on?” we asked. Golf has always been a highlight of incentive trips and senior executive meetings — and a must for networking.

As we spoke to people, we found that one big reason for the shift was time. Some people just don't want to put the time into 18 holes anymore. And corporate meetings have become shorter and more focused, making it harder to book a six-hour block for golf.

Another reason was money. More companies are requiring players to pay their own way. As one person put it: Companies just don't see the rationale “in spending $200 in greens fees for a person who plays twice a year.”

In light of this, we've come up with some solutions for planners who want to build interest in their golf events. For one, nine-hole rounds, which are gaining in popularity, give people the opportunity to get in a few hours of golf after a productive day of meetings. Another choice is par-3 courses, which are quicker and easier to play. See our cover story beginning on page 12 for other ideas to get people back into the game.

We also concluded that, although there might be a shift in interest among some groups, golf remains the best way to bring people together in a beautiful setting to get to know each other and have some fun. It gives attendees uninterrupted time to build bonds — and business. Is this worth $200 per person? For the right people, absolutely.

Barbara Scofidio

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