There's no better way to find out where to hold a golf event than to ask other planners. So that's what& Incentives and our sister magazine, Insurance Conference Planner, did. We asked readers to vote for their favorites in three categories: Best Golf Resort for Meetings & Incentives; Best New Resort Course/Renovation; and Best Service/Staffing.
The winners of the 2003 Golden Links Best of Corporate Golf Awards include some of the most well-known, classic golf resorts in the country — names such as the American Club, Doral, Kingsmill, and Pinehurst — along with one of the most talked-about golf resorts to open in the past year, the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, winner in two different categories.
Taking first place as Best Overall Golf Resort for Meetings & Incentives is the American Club in Kohler, Wis., known for its fabulous Blackwolf Run, built on a tract of land sculpted by glacier runoff. Its two 18-hole courses, the River Course and the Meadow Valleys Course, were designed by Pete Dye. Whistling Straits — another Dye creation — has more of an Irish feel, also with two 18-hole courses, the Straits Course and the Irish Course. The elegant American Club resort is decorated with antiques and regularly tops the list of winning resorts in CMI's annual Paragon Awards.
“The American Club has the best collection of golf courses at one resort in the whole state of Wisconsin, in fact quite possibly the whole Midwest,” says CMI's Golden Links Advisory Board member Gary Pearson, director, meetings & conventions, Aon Service Corp. in Chicago.
First-place winner in the Best New Resort Course/Renovation category is the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Fla., which opened last fall on Southwest Florida's Platinum Coast. Our golf editor, Ed Schmidt Jr., calls its 36-hole Tiburon course “an impeccably maintained, testy, target-style layout.” Innovatively designed by Greg Norman, the course has no rough, with tangerine-colored sand bunkers and a private club ambience. The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort also took second place in the Best Golf Resort category.
The second-place winner in the Best New Resort Course/Renovation category, Doral Resort & Spa's Blue Monster, Miami, is in a class by itself. Built in 1960, with eight significant water hazards the size of small lakes splashed across its design, it was redesigned in the late 1990s by Raymond Floyd.
Our Best Service and Staffing category was topped by two of the country's classic golf resorts: Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., and Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, N.C., with Coeur d'Alene Resort in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, taking second place. As Schmidt puts it: “Both Kingsmill and Pinehurst have carved a niche with golf-oriented meeting groups who consider them as reliable as a Tiger Woods nine-iron approach shot to a wide open green.”
Jo Ann Hoffman, president of the Meeting Industry Ladies Organization/The Golfe, held the MILO Institute at Coeur d'Alene a couple of years ago. “It was probably the smoothest and best event we have scheduled,” she says. “The staff of the resort worked very closely with the staff of the golf course. The course is impeccably kept. The head pro was outstanding, and the food, pro shop inventory, and golf instruction were all superb.”
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