Getting Golf Into the Agenda

A group golf outing doesn't have to take all day

Golf swing art
If you're planning to do a traditional shotgun tournament on just nine holes, the most golfers you can schedule is 72 (two foursomes per hole at the start).

If there's one thing devoted golfers love when they are traveling for business, it's sneaking in a little play on the side. The following six destinations feature layouts that allow planners to arrange just that for the entire group using only nine holes of a larger course, an executive nine-hole course, a par-3 layout or a putting course. It's also less expensive to arrange a shortened outing (hint to the budget-minded who still want to please the duffers in the group).

Breckenridge, Colo.
The Bear, Beaver and Elk Nines The town of Breckenridge, Colo., has three mountain nines designed by Jack Nicklaus called the Bear, the Beaver and the Elk. Balls fly here at more than a 9,300-foot elevation. All manner of wildlife, such as beaver, deer, elk, moose, bear, red fox and red-tailed hawks, has been known to wander through. Each of the nines can be used for group events, but if the Bear is not already scheduled for play, it's the best one for shorter events because of its close proximity to the clubhouse. For neophyte golfers, the Bear also doesn't have as many challenging elevation changes that so bedevil players on the Beaver and Elk nines.

For the meeting itself, many groups like to check in at the 500-room Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center, which offers more than 40,000 square feet of meeting space. Another 600 guest rooms are spread among six area properties run by Breckenridge Hospitality, which have a total of approximately 43,000 square feet of event space.

Lana'i, Hawaii
Four Seasons Resort LanaiThe Lodge at Koele
Four Seasons Resort Lana'i
While the Four Seasons has two fabulous courses -- the Experience at Koele, created by Greg Norman and Ted Robinson and featuring lush island interior views, and the nearby Challenge at Manele, designed by Jack Nicklaus and running along the stunning Hulopo'e Bay -- the Lodge also offers an 18-hole putting course that is perfect for a quick and easy event. Sharing the location of the Experience at Koele, the putting course dips through countryside that once held the ranch house of a pineapple plantation. Golf balls and putters (a favorite club of beginners) are provided for those who don't travel with their golf bags.

Along with sweet Hawaiian breezes and plenty of sunshine, the resort features 102 guest rooms, two restaurants with ocean views, plus the main dining room and several lounge areas. Other highlights for groups: three recently resurfaced tennis courts, croquet and, of course, the beach. The property has more than 40,000 square feet of meeting space.

Games People Play

Momentum golf sculpture

Need some ideas for using a nine-hole course? The experts at California golf mecca Pebble Beach, which includes the Peter Hay par-3 course (, offer the following suggestions.

Mini tournaments. Run a group competition on Peter Hay, including official scoring, prizes and award ceremonies.

Club limits. As part of the rules, participants can use only two or three golf clubs. You can specify which ones, like a 9-iron and a putter.

Night golf. Using glow-in-the-dark balls and glowstick-filled holes, groups play this novelty tournament at dusk.

Instruction. The Pebble Beach Academy, led by top teaching professional Laird Small, can take group members to Peter Hay for lessons. The short course is great for perfecting short iron shots, chipping and putting.


Wallace, Nova Scotia, Canada
Fox Harbr in Nova ScotiaFox Harb'r Golf Resort and Spa Golfers coming to Fox Harb'r are hot to play the championship course crafted by renowned Canadian designer Graham Cooke, but the property also has a nine-hole executive par-3 layout that offers a lot of opportunity for fun moments. Groups have been known to hold three-hole challenges here, as well as target competitions. For a longest-drive event, however, the best option is to have participants tee off down the runway of the resort's airport.

The property offers 72 suites plus a number of townhomes and private homes. Two restaurants are on property, as well as a spa with six treatment rooms. Groups can take advantage of other activities, such as sport shooting (the Sporting Lodge is great for small events), clay shooting, fly-fishing, hiking and more. Meeting space spans 2,700 square feet.

San Antonio
The Hill Country Golf Club
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa
With 27 holes of golf designed by Arthur Hills and Associates, groups can take over one of the nines at the Hill Country Golf Club, leaving behind 18 holes for hotel guests and club members. The difficulty level is even across the layouts, called the Lakes (which has more water hazards than the other two nines), the Creeks (a dry creek bed is featured prominently here) and the Oaks (where dense foliage is especially challenging).

A new use of nine holes at the Hyatt, introduced this past spring, is the Family Express Course, where tee markers are placed in the fairways of one of the nines to reduce the layout's length down to 1,000 or 1,800 yards from the usual 3,600 or so. Created to encourage moms and dads to introduce the kids to the game, the concept also is great for adults who are just learning. On occasion, the resort is willing to send more experienced golfers in a group out on 18 holes for a traditional tournament, while the neophytes take the shortened nine.

At the 500-room Hyatt, all the golf is a two-minute walk from the resort, and all three nines start and finish at the clubhouse. The property features an extensive water park (lazy river included), five dining outlets, three lounges and 43,000 square feet of meeting space.

Lake Placid, New York
Lake Placid Golf ClubAside from the Mountain and Links courses at the Lake Placid Club, the Pristine Nine course, designed in 1910 by Alexander H. Findlay, is available for a fun hour or two. The course has seven par-3 holes and two par-4s, ranging from 90 to 270 yards long. It's great for a contest-filled afternoon of target-shooting, closest-to-the-hole competitions and hole-in-one challenges.

The Crowne Plaza Resort, which manages the golf club, offers 249 rooms in a variety of Adirondack-themed styles. Groups have 30,000 square feet of meeting space, and private dining is available in the Lake Placid Club Boat House on Mirror Lake. Events also can be held in the golf clubhouse year-round.