Mountain Meetings had the good fortune to connect with Eric Veraguth, director of golf at Resort at Squaw Creek in Olympic Valley, California. He wrote this helpful guest article about holding outstanding golf outings for groups.
By Eric Veraguth
Throughout the past two years, we’ve seen a major resurgence of groups wanting to incorporate golf into their meetings or events. From professional-style tournaments to simple putting challenges, groups are finding ways to get their attendees outside and on the course.
While golf can be considered a serious sport, it can also be a fun and effective tool in helping to create bonds, build lasting relationships among peers and colleagues, and forge unforgettable memories for an overall successful event. Below, I’ve included my top tips for hosting a golf event.
Consider the Destination
One of the most important elements for hosting a golf tournament is to consider the destination. For example, here at my home base of Resort at Squaw Creek, our golf course is located in a beautiful alpine meadow located at 6,000 feet in elevation and surrounded by towering Sierra Nevada peaks. With our location, it is imperative that golfers stay hydrated during throughout the tournament to help with altitude acclimation. I recommend that planners provide attendees with customized reusable water bottles when they arrive with a message explaining the importance of hydration during their experience.
The high elevation also can help the ball to fly farther, which can be a helpful assist for golfers during their round. However, it is helpful to provide players with tips specifically tailored to the course and make the game as fun and exciting as possible for everyone. Additionally, mountain golf courses usually experience wide ranges of temperatures throughout the day. For example, it can be 80 degrees in the sunlight, but drop 20 degrees in the shade. I suggest that planners help their attendees with a packing checklist with recommended attire for their upcoming experience.
Make the Game Less Daunting
When I invite people who have never played golf before to visit me out on the course, I always receive the same feedback, “I can’t play golf.” While professional golfers spend dozens of years perfecting their swing, there are several ways to play the game that are welcoming and fun for everyone. In fact, the game can be even more fun when you have a team of all different skill levels.
When groups begin planning a tournament-style event, I always recommend a scramble format. As one of the most popular tournament options, a scramble evens the playing field while encouraging teamwork and helps to build a sense of comradery. Essentially, each group is separated into teams of four players with a designated team captain. Each player will hit their ball off the first tee, and then the captain will designate the best shot. Every member of the team will move their ball to where the best shot landed and play on from that location.
Consider an Abbreviated Tournament
Although I personally feel that you can never spend too much time on the course, I recommend that planners consider an abbreviated round of nine holes in order to help cater to a wider audience. It is also helpful to have a shotgun start so all golfers begin and end the tournament at the same time.
By having an abbreviated play time, it helps attendees to stay engaged and connected with the tournament. This format also allows more time for the post-tournament celebration and awards reception following the event.
Put an Emphasis on Friendly Competition
Some of the most successful tournaments I’ve seen put an emphasis on friendly competition by adding in award categories that players can strive to achieve during their round. For example, in addition to having one grand prize for the winning team, I recommend offering smaller awards for categories such as longest drive, closest to the pin and longest putt holed.
Work Closely with the Course
Unless the group is made up of professional golfers, many organizations don’t have a full perspective of the logistics that go into planning a tournament. With that in mind, I highly recommend that groups work closely with the golf director or golf professionals at their selected course to plan every detail and ensure a streamlined experience.
I also suggest partnering with a course that provides a one-stop destination for everything attendees will want and need in their golf-infused experience. For example, here at Resort at Squaw Creek, we have accommodations, spacious event space reflective of our gorgeous alpine setting and ideal for a golf reception, world-class dining, and several memorable activities just steps away from the golf course.
Eric Veraguth is director of golf at Resort at Squaw Creek in Olympic Valley, California. He has been in the golf industry for nearly 30 years and has held a variety of positions, ranging from a golf instructor in Switzerland to head golf professional in the Squaw Creek Valley. He has served as the director of golf and ski at Destination Hotels for the past 15 years.