Holiday Parties – Choose The Clubhouse, NOT Your House

By Will Brogan

For several years now, there has been a new push among the leaders of the golf industry to cater more to groups than ever before. Sure, the large shotgun scramble tournaments have long been the easiest way to generate revenue for golf courses, and smaller outings have become a mainstay for the better part of a decade now as well.

However, what about those pesky winter months in the Upper Midwest? Can a property really sustain itself on the bar, simulator hours, and slow nights in the restaurant? Some can, of course, but others need extra. Many courses, including more than a handful in the Twin Cities, have made holiday parties part of their regular repertoire once the offseason arrives.

What To Know
First and foremost, the number one item to know when planning a potential holiday party is if your selected golf course is even available to host. Typically, by the end of September, about half of the possible dates for your party are already taken, so make sure you’re on the beneficial end of that race to secure space.

Additionally, it’s a very good idea to have, well, a very good idea about the demographics and dynamics of your group. There are plenty of options for entertainment (see the section below), but guessing wrong is a recipe for boredom, so know your participants. In fact, one might recommend getting your guests involved in actually planning the party. Give them what they want, right?

Still, it goes far beyond entertainment. Planners must consider food from not only a cost perspective, but also potentially a consumption perspective, and don’t forget about that bar bill! You’ll want to schedule an appointment or two with a Food & Beverage and/or Event Planner at your chosen golf course venue to go over all the nuances of your party before finalizing plans.

Fun Ideas To Try!
The best part about the golf industry these days is that courses have really begun to tailor experiences to the customers and their group’s desires, both on the course and off. Obviously, the smaller the group, the more potential flexibility the course and planners can have, but courses everywhere are making extraordinary efforts to please those who want to use their facilities in any capacity.

So, if you’re interested in having a casino night, bring the cards, chips, and dice! Maybe a simulator showdown is on tap for a smaller group? Break out the sticks from the garage, as they’re probably getting cold anyway! Do you walk around the office and hear people singing quietly or humming the latest Billboard #1 hit? Perhaps a karaoke night would be the perfect fit!

The Vikings have a Thursday Night Football date with the Arizona Cardinals on December 10th… sure you could watch it at home, but wouldn’t a game like that may be more fun to watch as the focal point of your group’s holiday party, right? For the record, the Packers happen to have a Thursday Night game the week before (December 3rd) against the Lions, if that’s where your allegiances lie. Certainly any sporting event is a good go to for, if nothing else, a positive distraction during your party, so consider building your event around one! Still, there are more options like bingo night, magicians, caricaturists, and trivia contests. Ask around, you’ll undoubtedly find something that fits your group perfectly!

An Alternative That Works!
Twin Cities golf courses have long been ahead of the curve and willing to try new things to make golfers and non-golfers happy during their experience on a given property. That means the opportunity to get creative, even attempting to do things that are rather unorthodox. One such idea, suggested by innovator Mike Tozier of The Links at NorthFork, is to hold your holiday parties in January.
Think about it: there’s enough stress with the holidays as is between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with families, traveling, gift buying, possibly a little too much use of a credit card, re-gifting, and not to mention extra cooking and cleaning, that adding a party for a decent sized group might send anyone over the edge a little bit.

Consider that the “holiday spirit” typically dies after whatever bowl game concludes on New Year’s Day or the day after, and people return to the cold winter with New Year’s Resolutions that may have already been broken! Why not give the group something to look forward to in that “dead time”? It’s perfect for kicking the year off right, or capturing one last little moment of the holiday season. Plus, most golf course event calendars are wide open in January, so you’ll likely have the perfect day available, and potentially quick flexibility if you need it when plans change. Such a simple tweak, yet a very effective option for most groups!

Choose The Clubhouse, NOT Your House!
As stated above, golf courses have become experts in hosting parties tailored to the desires of individuals or groups. It’s becoming almost an industry standard these days, and that makes the experience better for us as consumers. So take advantage of all the knowledge that our courses have gained over the years, put it to good use, and have a wonderful holiday party in what will hopefully be a season to remember for your group!