THE BALLOTS ARE IN for the 2004 Golden Links Best of Corporate Golf Awards, chosen by the readers of& Incentives and our sister publication Insurance Conference Planner. In the Best New Course/Renovation category (“courses that have opened in the last couple of years”), ChampionsGate, near Orlando, Fla., took top honors. The resort features two challenging 18-hole, par-72 championship courses designed by Greg Norman — the National and the International — both of which have won honorable mentions from Golf Magazine in the “10 Most Distinctive Places to Play.” ChampionsGate is also home to the world headquarters of the David Leadbetter Golf Academy and, opening in October, the 730-room Mediterranean-style Omni Orlando Resort.
“ChampionsGate has great layouts, a very friendly staff, and a nice clubhouse,” says Frank Sablone, executive director of the Tag & Label Institute, Naperville, Ill., and a member of CMI's Golden Links Advisory Board. “The courses make it playable for all types of golfers. The International is one of those courses where players can play a course that the pros play. And the practice range is one of the best.”
This year's winner in the Best Service/Staffing category is The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo. The Broadmoor's East course is an old-timer, designed in 1917 by Donald Ross, while the West Course was completed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1964. At an elevation of 6,800 feet, it overlooks the city and the mountains. The Mountain Course is the Broadmoor's newest, designed by Ed Seay of Arnold Palmer's Palmer Course Design Co. in 1976. But overall, what makes this resort so memorable is the staff — and how they cater to groups, says Sablone. “Staff members all … remember who you are,” he says. “They work with groups very well and are good at making recommendations about play.”
As Best Overall Course for Meetings and Incentives, readers chose Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami, home of the Blue Monster. Built in 1960 and redesigned in the late 1990s by Raymond Floyd, the course is known for its water hazards, some the size of small lakes. Says Golden Links Advisory Board member Walt Galanty, executive director, National Association of GolfDirectors, Alexandria, Va.: “Without a doubt, Doral is one of the best facilities in the country to have golf events. The staff really knows how to run golf events for all types of groups. The variety of golf allows good players to be satisfied on the same course as beginners.”