• Janet Heinz-Barlow

Golf Outings

Spring is in the air! Time to get everyone outside to enjoy the warmer weather after the winter season finally departs.

For many, the return of spring means heading back to fairways and greens.

Planners everywhere will have to be up to par as they set the course for their next great event or outing. It’s time to explore some of the resorts and country clubs of the region and plan for golf outings and recreational activities that will invigorate, rejuvenate and stimulate corporate groups.

Kristofer Fair, director of operations for Bluestone Country Club in Blue Bell, PA, says that groups who come to his property will get more out of their visit than just a great day of golf. “Guests at a Bluestone golf outing experience the entire club. Lunch is served on our terrace with our chefs grilling to order. The firepit - along with the view of the 17th fairway and pond - makes an outstanding setting to begin the day. Our steam room and full-service locker room is inviting after the round, before cocktails and dinner are served in the clubhouse. And our golf outing package includes exclusive use of the practice facilities, plus a golf cart, green fees and golf shop credit.”

A golf clinic is offered as part of golf outings at Bluestone for beginners, as well. Bluestone boasts traditional amenities of an upscale, private country club, including: golf, tennis played on clay courts, a heated swimming pool with a full-service bar, and a grille at the pool deck. The club also has two restaurants on property.

“The Garden Restaurant is located in the main clubhouse and our informal dining room is The Grille, which is located in our golf building,” explains Fair. “Outdoor dining is very popular with our members and their guests. We have a beautiful stone, two-tier terrace that is the place to be seen in Montgomery County.”

For most of those planning a corporate golf outing at Bluestone, Fair says that skill level and golf experience don’t usually factor in all that much. “Generally, guests in an outing are playing in a group of four with the team’s score generated as a whole, not as individuals. In fact, sometimes the difference in winning an outing can be having a beginner golfer in the foursome whose score is curved to the better, which is known as a handicap index.”

In the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, visitors to Woodloch Resort will find so much to see and do on-site with ample opportunities for recreation and plenty of amenities to enjoy. A range of options for overnight stays are available at the resort, including guest homes that are particularly ideal for golf outings.

According to Erica Bloch, marketing/public relations manager for Woodloch Resort, “Guest home accommodations offer a unique style of lodging for all group types. Our fully furnished guest homes are located around the golf course at Woodloch Springs and range from 2 to 5 bedrooms. The houses are fully equipped with everything you need for cooking and preparing food. We can place larger groups in a cluster of houses and offer a block party where we would cater food and beverage... Additionally, all guests have access to the resort amenities and activities, which feature over 30 activities daily at no additional cost.”

But it is golf, she says, that is an activity at least a few people in every group always want to engage in. For this reason, having a golf course available for retreat attendees is a huge plus when planners are looking at certain properties. “We definitely have many groups whose main reason for coming to Woodloch is to golf. Many of them will either set up a small tournament or ‘scrambles’ for the days they will be here, or they will reserve some tee times for the golfers in their group.”

And while Woodloch is a challenging golf course, she notes that there are four different tee placements that help to accommodate golfers of all skill levels. “We have golf professionals on staff for lessons as well as an indoor golf simulator for year-round instruction.”

Bloch adds, though, that there truly is something for all ages and walks of life at Woodloch. “From go karts to bumper cars to our indoor swimming pool and sports complex to year-round ice skating and our Broadway-style theme show, it is impossible to be bored here! Add to the mix our 18-hole championship golf course at Woodloch Springs, as well as our world-renowned destination spa, The Lodge at Woodloch, which offers a huge array of fitness classes.”

“We also have multi-functional meeting and dining rooms to host retreats that require meeting space or private dining,” she adds. “We host over 200 retreats every year and are fully equipped to handle any request.”

When it is time to eat, Woodloch offers a variety of dining options, too.

“Guests of Woodloch Pines can choose between two or three meals daily, what we call our American Plan,” explains Bloch. “Meals are served family-style in our dining room and focus on delicious wholesome foods that the whole family will love, highlighted by a variety of baked goods made fresh each day in our in-house bakery.”

For guests who opt not to take a meal plan, a la carte options abound. Just two miles from Woodloch Pines is the Clubhouse at Woodloch Springs, which features the Grille Room and Overlook restaurants. Guests can enjoy golf course views while dining.

The restaurant at The Lodge at Woodloch, TREE, features an upscale, adults-only dining experience that includes gourmet, farm-to-table fare and artfully crafted cocktails.

Also situated in the Pocono Mountains, Camelback Resort is another destination boasting a wide range of recreational activities and opportunities for group outings. And while its range of offerings is impressive, Tiana Gering, corporate sales manager for Camelback Resort, stresses that the property’s adaptability is part of what makes it a truly exceptional place for hosting group outings.

“Aside from having epic views and a large list of fun activities from which to choose,” Gering explains, “our property is flexible in working with the needs and desires of the group. We’re open to customizing menus, theming events, creating team building experiences that incorporate our indoor and outdoor activities, and more.”

Camelback Resort offers a one-stop-shop for groups and planners. It’s a place where guests can relax, dine and be entertained without ever having to leave the property.

“When guests stay at Camelback Lodge, they automatically receive access to Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark, which provides year-round fun for all ages” notes Gering. “In addition to the indoor waterpark, we have Camelback Mountain Adventures with zip lines, a ropes courses, the Pocono Pipeline, a Mountain Coaster and more. Plus, there’s Camelback Ski Area with 38 trails, Camelback Snowtubing with 42 chutes, and Camelbeach Outdoor Waterpark, the largest outdoor waterpark in Pennsylvania. The options for recreation and adventure are endless.”

In addition to its plentiful recreation, Camelback also is home to several restaurants that provide varying types of cuisine along with themes from around the world. “Two of our newest restaurants include Berrellli’s Family Style Italian that features both Old World and New World favorites, and Kartrite’s Summit House, the highest (altitude) restaurant in the Pocono Mountains,” Gering asserts.

With a picturesque view of the mountains, Serenity Spa at Camelback offers a quiet retreat of luxurious pampering, aromatherapy scents, soft music, and a calming atmosphere. “Being that Camelback is a mountain resort,” says Gering, “not only do we have hiking trails, but we’re also nestled in a portion of Big Pocono State Park. Groups can get out and enjoy the nature and the scenic views that go on for miles.”

For team building, Camelback partners with two outside companies who work directly with the group leader in creating a program that will meet the group’s specific team building goals. “In the past, programs have been created that incorporate the on-site indoor and outdoor activities, including the rock-climbing wall, waterpark, arcade, zip lines and more,” Gering notes.

The Hotel Hershey is a Forbes Four Star, AAA Four Diamond historic property that overlooks the town of Hershey, PA, and it has so much to offer in terms of recreation and group outings. It is home to 276 guestrooms, including 48 in the hotel’s most premium accommodations, the Woodside Cottages, along with three full-service restaurants. The hotel also offers meeting space for groups of 10 up to 450 throughout 20 function rooms totaling 25,000-square feet - and each features natural light.

For recreation, guests receive access to 45 holes of golf at Hershey Country Club, which includes the private 18-hole (each) West and East courses, and the nine-hole Spring Creek Golf Course. Each course offers a unique playing experience rich in history, first-class amenities and a dedicated staff.

Offering scenic views of the distinctive East and West courses, the country club features both a Clubhouse and the four-season Picard Grand Pavilion for golf outing catered meal functions, meetings, and other occasions in an elegant setting.

“The banquets department at Hershey Country Club works with our golf and meeting groups to provide attentive service and exceed expectations,” asserts Reilly Elizabeth Fies, communications manager for Hershey Entertainment and Resorts.

Each course provides a unique playing experience geared toward varying skill levels. Hershey Country Club has a team of skilled professionals who hold more than 100 years of combined golf experience, knowledge and expertise.

These on-staff golf professionals have created Team Pitch & Putt, a group experience that both veteran and rookie players alike will enjoy, says Fies. “Teams of 4 or 6 players will learn and refine a variety of skills needed to compete in a 4- to 6-hole Golf Pitch and Putt Challenge. PGA Professionals will help both new and experienced golfers refine a variety of key golf skills in three-skill stations. Focus will be on putting, chipping. pitching, and full shots. Teams will then put their new golf skills to the test during a 45-minute competition.”

All overnight guests of The Hotel Hershey also receive complimentary admission to Hershey Gardens and The Hershey Story Museum. What’s more, The Hotel Hershey is an Official Resort of Hersheypark and offers VIP benefits including the best price on Hersheypark tickets, complimentary shuttle service to and from the park, one-hour early access and more.

Fies lists additional recreational offerings available at The Hotel Hershey, including: a full-service spa, The Spa At The Hotel Hershey, which features signature chocolate treatments; an indoor swimming pool; fitness center; 18-hole all-grass putting course; an outdoor aquatic complex featuring a family pool, adult pool (18+), whirlpool and poolside cabanas; an outdoor recreation complex featuring basketball, bocce ball, croquet, horseshoes, shuffleboard, tennis and volleyball; bicycle rental on-site; more than 5.5-miles of outdoor trails; Segway tours; a falconry experience and more.

When it comes to dining, among the hotel’s three full-service restaurants is its flagship - The Circular. There also are two casual eateries on-site, a coffee shop, spa buffet and seasonal poolside café that provide numerous dining options.

“Of course, chocolate is abundant at The Hotel Hershey,” adds Fies, “including the Signature Chocolate Cream Pie, Signature Chocolate Martinis, and pastry shop aptly named ‘Sweets’."

Situated in a picturesque lakeside setting, The Otesaga Resort Hotel provides elegant, luxury accommodations amid the best of Cooperstown, NY. A repeat winner of the coveted AAA Four Diamond Award, this majestic Upstate New York hotel exudes the charm and gracious hospitality of a bygone era, while providing a wealth of modern amenities and contemporary conveniences. Groups can enjoy access to a pair of first-class dining options, along with premier recreation that includes a heated outdoor swimming pool, fitness room, lake swimming, canoes, rowboats, tennis courts, and of course, the award-winning Leatherstocking Golf Course.

Groups can take advantage of the opportunity to play a round on this famed course, which was designed in 1909 by Devereux Emme. Today, it is considered one of the most scenic and challenging resort golf courses on the East Coast. Golf lessons are available at the resort, as is a restaurant at the clubhouse that is open seasonally. It offers a spacious patio, along with beautiful views of the Leatherstocking course and shimmering Lake Otsego.

When it comes to meetings, there’s 30,000-square feet of function space available that includes a state-of-the-art business center, unique and versatile meeting rooms and event spaces, free Wi-Fi, high-definition TV, plus artwork reproductions from the renowned Fenimore Art Museum. Selected as a member of the Historic Hotels of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Otesaga is reminiscent of a genteel era, when a gracious welcome was the standard.

Along the southern New Jersey shore in Galloway Township, visitors will find Seaview, a Dolce Hotel, which is located on 670-acres of woodland and is home to two of the most scenic and challenging golf courses in North America - The Bay Course and The Pines Course, says Mike Tidwell, director of sales and marketing for the resort property.

“Golf is a major driver for many of our groups,” explains Tidwell. “However, we also offer many creative team building and dining opportunities across all of our incredible outdoor venues. Groups can enjoy team building events, including Iron Chef contests, martini making, and our signature Cultivate event, which really embodies the New Jersey Shore experience.”

Through their Cultivate event, he explains, Seaview partners with the local Tuckerton Seaport Museum for an evening of locally sourced seafood and Jersey Fresh produce alongside artisans from the museum, including boat builders, a beekeeper, decoy carver, and the operator of an authentic whiskey still.

“At Seaview, we believe that a retreat is much more than meeting space,” says Tidwell, “it’s the memorable experiences that leave attendees with the most lasting benefit. With 34,500-square feet of flexible space among 21 meeting rooms, it's an ideal setting for meetings and events. Our historic grounds and spaces, award winning culinary team, and a staff that spans generations of families who spend their careers working at the resort are what really sets us apart. Seaview is poised to move into our next 100 years of hosting retreats, from groups of 5 to 500.”

“We also are situated near the world-renowned Forsyth National Wildlife Refuge and Historic Smithville Village, which our guests can take advantage of for a spirited hike, distance run or mountain bike trek,” notes Tidwell.

Quite a few of the groups who meet at Seaview manage to work golf into their programs, though, whether it’s before, during or after their meetings or events. “We believe that the best meetings include some time to unwind and what better place than the historic Bay Course at Seaview,” asserts Tidwell.

And there’s no experience necessary to enjoy the course. In fact, he observes, “one of the most successful programs we offer is the ‘Short Course Set-up,’ where we set up anywhere from 3 to 9 holes with tee boxes dialed in to 100 yards. This levels the field and makes play much more enjoyable for players of all skill levels. It also helps to keep the game moving. Those groups who have tried it, love it!”

When it comes to dining, Tidwell says, “Our team at Seaview, a Dolce Hotel, prides itself on crafting local offerings served in several unique spaces within the resort, especially our brunch, which was recently named Top 100 Brunches in the U.S., as voted by users of Open Table. Our guests have a variety of dining options, including the historic Coastal Grille, and the classic Main Dining Room, which is a throwback to the days when Seaview was a private golf club.”

Also located along the South Jersey Shore is the Wildwoods, which is a haven for beach resort goers and popular destination for groups seeking recreation and fun times.

The Wildwoods free white sandy beaches are a perfect spot for swimming, kayaking, fishing, body surfing, or just relaxing and soaking up the summer sun. For those looking for some adventure, the Wildwoods’ beaches also serve as an ideal location for surfing, boogie boarding, power boating, jet skiing, sailing, kayaking and whale watching.

Home to numerous events throughout the summer season, the resort town’s vast beaches are the ideal venue for free concerts, festivals, youth sporting events, monster truck beach courses, vintage car and motorcycle drag races.

In addition, the Wildwoods iconic boardwalk stretches for two-and-a-half miles of pure sensory overload with more than 100 rides and attractions (more than Disneyland) that range from world-class roller coasters and three wet ‘n’ wild waterparks to carnival-style midway games, flashing arcades and a myriad of retail shops and eateries (more than at the Mall of America).

The Wildwoods also offers groups a number of attractions, including the historic, picturesque Hereford Inlet Lighthouse and English Gardens. Once a beacon of safety and assurance to 19th century mariners, today it is a cherished landmark for residents and visitors.

The Wildwoods boasts the largest collection of mid-20th century architecture in the country, as well, which is known as Doo-Wop Architecture. Visitors are encouraged to stop in at the Doo-Wop Preservation League’s Doo-Wop Experience Museum to learn more about Doo-Wop and what made the Wildwoods famous in the 1950s. During the tourism season there is even a guided Doo Wop Back-To-The ‘50s Neon Night Tour of the best of the Wildwoods Doo Wop-style landmarks.

The Wildwoods showcases an array of sporting facilities, too, including the North Wildwood Recreational Facility, the Wildwood Crest Recreation Center and the Byrne Community Center. There also are beach fitness classes, beach boot camp, as well as yoga classes daily both at the beach and downtown at Byrne Plaza (in-season).

A day on the greens is one of the most relaxing ways to spend time at the Jersey Shore for both novice and skilled golfers. Golf courses can be found all across Cape May County - from Cape May National to the south to Shore Gate Golf Club to the north - and each offers a variety of playing levels from beginner to scratch golfer.

Area courses offer challenging, yet playable holes along with exquisite venues that offer tee times from early morning to dusk so golfers can easily fit their favorite pastime into their business schedule or vacation. Several courses are just minutes from the Wildwoods and situated close to the ocean or the bay, so there’s always a mild breeze, plenty of scenic beauty, and lush, well-kept greens and fairways.

Whether hitting the links at a golf course or enjoying recreational activities at a mountain or beach resort, groups can reap the benefits of the great outdoors this spring and summer and enjoy some amazing experiences as they gather for outings and events throughout the region.

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