Editor’s note: Research conducted by SITE, the IRF and FICP has pitched “wellness” as the new golf and reported a marked decline in the use of golf as a key inclusion for incentive travel programs. Jordan Fuller begs to differ and presents some compelling ways to include golf as part of a great reward.
While golf is traditionally known as an individual sport, there are many ways to incorporate team dynamics into it and create a wonderful team-building experience. Even beginners and non-golfers can be included in golf team-building exercises, whether through tournaments, outings, group lessons, or even a trip to a modern driving range.
Host a scramble
Many golf courses are fine-tuned machines when it comes to group outings and corporate events. Instead of having to worry about filling up a tee sheet, hosting a group outing allows them to focus on hospitality and allows you to provide a great facility and fun golf experience for your staff to take advantage of.
The best format for a teambuilding tournament is a scramble. Each player hits a shot, then the group picks the best shot and everyone hits from there again. Even rote beginners will be able to contribute with putts and chips, and may even hit a good approach shot or drive from time to time.
When putting together the groups for a scramble format, you’ll want to be sure that there’s at least one or two experienced golfers in each group. They can provide light guidance on golf rules, etiquette, and even swing tips. The beginners can learn something by watching a good player up close, and will be relieved that they won’t be relied on for hitting long, straight drives.
You can also incorporate side games into a scramble, like longest drive, straightest drive, longest putt made, and so on. These can be rewarded with gift cards, liquor, or even extra vacation days.
The best part of any scramble, of course, is the 19th hole. Most courses offer several banquet, buffet, or happy hour options that allow your employees the time to loosen up with a few drinks, take out their golf sunglasses in the sun and regale each other with stories of the great times they just enjoyed on the course. A links and drinks outing proves to be an excellent incentive to golfers and non-golfers alike.
A clinic with the pro
Many incentive travel golf destinations are resort hotels built on or near world-class golf courses that also have incredible practice facilities and excellent head professionals. These professionals frequently offer group clinics– a great way to get your team working together.
Beyond simply demonstrating good golf techniques, there are many games that can be played during these clinics. Closest-to-the-pin chipping contests, putting contests, hit-the-green contests, and other minigames are great ways to encourage friendly competition and allow your employees to try out and refine the skills they’ve just learned.
While many of your employees may be intrigued by the idea of playing golf, lessons with a top teaching pro can sometimes cost upwards of $300 an hour. That’s a hefty fee for someone who may not be sold on the sport yet.
So the prospect of an incentive travel clinic with a top tier golf professional may be a very attractive option for your employees. They’ll feel more comfortable in a group of other golfers at various levels of skill, and a group lesson provides a nice combination of instruction, practice time, and personal attention.
An evening at TopGolf
With 63 locations in the U.S. and more facilities opening up every year, TopGolf is fast becoming a top tier prospect for team-building golf activities. A modern driving range that has a unique setup with micro-chipped balls that register on various targets in the range, TopGolf is a fun way to play golf for everyone, from first-timers to scratch players.
TopGolf offers lessons, great food, and a full bar as well, so it’s an attractive option for a group clinic, a daytime outing or an evening event with dinner and drinks. With many different options for gameplay and rental clubs available, including drivers for senior executives, TopGolf is a surefire way to entertain everyone. Even if they don’t want to try the addictive golf games, your staff can sit back, have a drink, and laugh at the exploits of their coworkers. But everyone eventually wants to hit some balls themselves, and then they’re hooked!
TopGolf nights have proven to be incredibly popular and successful team-building exercises, and now that they’ve spread out to almost every major metro area and many smaller cities, they’re an option all across the country.
One more fun way to get people out on the golf course together is through night golf. With floodlights, glow-in-the-dark golf balls, music, and drinks, night golf is the “cosmic bowling” of the golf world. 9-hole courses are perfect for this fun outing, as usually they run from about 8-11pm. Tiki torch tee markers, glowstick greens, and a bright spotlight illuminating the flagstick create a fun, engaging atmosphere where people really let loose and have fun.
Most night golf courses offer group packages and discounts, usually with dinner and drinks included. 9 holes of glow-in-the-dark golf followed by craft cocktails and burgers on the grill is a great way to spend an evening bonding with your coworkers.
About the Author
Jordan Fuller is a golf enthusiast who has been playing the sport for the last 25 years. During his career, he’s visited many golf courses around the world and he is quite familiar with golf business dynamics and how golf business events can truly take team-building activities to the next level. He shares his experience on the most effective tactics in this article.