Avoid the Pain of Rain
By Rob Carey
Planners need to account for the possibility that it will rain on the day of their golf events. Bob Coman, director of golf at PGA National Members Club in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, routinely walks clients through the list of activities to create a fun “Plan B.”
First, Coman notes that when it rains, “You lose about half of your golfers to other activities at the resort, or to shopping or something else. So the remaining group is usually of a size where we can use our meeting space for alternate golf-related activities.”
Planners, then, can ask that the pro shop staff give personalized instruction to attendees, by breaking folks into small groups and letting them hit into nets, and perhaps use videotaping so folks can compare their “before” and “after” swings once they are home. Or, if instructors focus on teaching the short game and putting, “you can get that going quickly because you don’t need to set up mats and nets.”
Next, “we can create an indoor putting tournament in the ballroom, using masking tape to outline each hole,” Coman adds. “We use baby powder to create bunkers and other props for trees and hazards, so it makes for a fun challenge.”
There’s also the possibility of renting a golf simulator, which allows players to take full swings at a real ball, and watch the result on a screen that displays a detailed video facsimile of a famous course. The cost to rent such a machine is about $2,000 a day, however, so you might want to make it a central part of your event rather than just a back-up for rainy weather. What’s more, a sponsor just might want to attach his name to the front of the machine as well, saving you considerably on the rental cost. And besides being the antidote for rain, golf simulators can be used at winter meetings in northern climes as part of the entertainment at a cocktail reception or during free time.
To find a host of vendors offering these machines, log onto www.google.com and type in “golf simulators, rental.”
Interestingly, says Coman, many golfers are up for a lecture. “We can do a seminar on course management and rules of the game, and though that sounds dry, if you have the refreshments flowing, golfers really enjoy that.” And if folks want just a brief lecture, the rest of the time can be occupied with videos of previous Masters, U.S. Opens, British Opens, or other memorable pro events.
Finally, golf video games are not only good for a rainy day, but also for any reception that will have a mix of golfers and non-golfers. One of the most popular arcade machines is Golden Tee, which allows users to play anywhere from three to 18 holes. The game is perfect for teaching novices how to play, and experienced golfers love that it allows them to choose from a variety of courses, select different clubs for shots of varying distances, and make other considerations that simulate the real thing.
The CVB at your destination should be able to help you find one or more Golden Tee games to rent from local arcades or distributors, at a cost of about $600 per day. On the other hand, you can simply rent a few Sony Playstations, Microsoft X-Boxes, or other home video machines; nearly all of them can run excellent golf games that beginners can learn in minutes, and which hard-core golfers love to place friendly wagers on.