In late January, Insurance Conference Planner and its sister magazine Corporate Meetings & Incentives held its Golden Links Advisory Board annual meeting, followed by a round of golf, at Disney's Bonnet Creek Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. Not surprisingly, the overriding theme of the discussion was the economy and how shrinking budgets have meant less golf at meetings.
Gary Pearson, director, meetings and conventions, Aon Service Corp., Chicago, reported that his groups' golf activities are being closely scrutinized by management; he recently had to cut a half-dayfrom the closing day of a meeting. Instead, he offered attendees special rates to stay an extra night and play in an unofficial tournament at their own expense.
But, planners take note: Golf pricing is not as inflexible as it used to be, reported Charlie Kent, director of golf, Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort, San Antonio, Texas. Don't be afraid to try to negotiate greens fees where you may not have before.
The Best Places to Play: ICP's 2003 Golden Links Award Winners
There's no better way to find out where to hold a golf event than to ask other planners. So that's what we 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 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 and Whistling Straits courses, designed by Pete Dye.
First-place winner in the Best New Resort Course/Renovation category is the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Fla., designed by Greg Norman, which opened last fall on Southwest Florida's Platinum Coast. The Ritz 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.