South Carolina is as golf friendly as it is meetings friendly. In a field of newer teambuilding activities that includes everything from escape rooms to team yoga, golf is the timeless, original activity that encourages networking outside the meeting room.
Attendees will look forward to seeing golf on the itinerary in South Carolina, which is renowned for beautiful public and resort courses designed by major golf course architects and hall of fame players.
Following are seven among the many sets of links statewide that accommodate customized group tournaments as well as pre- and post-play receptions and banquets.
Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort sports three onsite golf courses that welcome group play, including the popular Robert Trent Jones (RTJ) course.
The RTJ course is consistently rated among the top courses in South Carolina and its 10th hole is one of only two oceanfront golf holes on Hilton Head Island.
Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort Golf Course, Aerial View
The onsite practice facilities are ideal for special group lessons, including clinics conducted by Doug Weaver, director of golf instruction and former PGA Tour player.
Hats, apparel, golf balls and various other gifts from the pro shop can be presented to winners of tournament contests such as longest drive and closest-to-the-pin.
“Corporate groups prefer scrambles and modified scrambles for both the fun factor and pace of play,” said Dominic Hausher, the resort’s director of sales.
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Palmetto Dunes boasts a fleet of technologically advanced golf carts equipped with GPS and USB ports that enhance a tournament. Players can use the USB ports to charge cell phones and even play music in-between holes.
“And we can provide live scoring and integrate sponsor signage into the GPS screens, which can change from hole to hole,” Hausher said.
Palmetto Dunes also offers a range of catering services, including a full-service beverage cart on the course, box lunches, barbecue buffets and more.
RTJ’s son, Rees Jones, designed Oyster Reef Golf Club, which is considered a hidden gem for group tournaments on Hilton Head Island.
Oyster Reef Golf Club, Hilton Head Island
Set on 190 acres of picturesque Lowcountry terrain, Oyster Reef is a lively course featuring winding lagoons, lush vegetation and frequent visits by resident wildlife.
“At a recent corporate event we had an alligator halt play as he passed across the fairway in search of a nearby lagoon,” said Brian Crum, the club’s head golf professional.
The golf course is also home to one of the most scenic holes on the island, the par-3 No. 6, which is set against the backdrop of Port Royal Sound.
Oyster Reef’s onsite tournament department and golf staff will work with planners to design any event the organization can dream up.
Its restaurant, Lagerhead Tavern, is available for meal functions before or after play. It seats 100 players inside and the outside covered patio accommodates 60. Menus include full-course dinners and casual boxed lunches that are served on the course during play.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort is an outstanding host for meetings that guarantees high attendance numbers.
“Being able to host an event in a tucked-away beach resort setting with world-class amenities and add the opportunity for attendees to play a round on a dream course is certainly a draw,” said Director of Golf Sales John Haskins.
The resort is home to five championship golf courses that regularly garner accolades, especially the Ocean Course, which was named by Golf Digest as South Carolina’s best place to play in 2019-2020.
Ocean Course View Looking Back From Clubhouse
“The Ocean Course is obviously the crown jewel, and a bucket list course for golfers from around the world,” Haskins said. “The architect, Pete Dye, is famous at taking full advantage of a site to add elements to create extra challenges for golfers. The Ocean Course’s extra element is the Atlantic Ocean and the constantly shifting and often quite brisk winds.”
The Ocean Course, which hosted the PGA Championship in 2012 and will again in 2021, first gained notoriety when it hosted the 1991 Ryder Cup. The tournament, dubbed “The War By The Shore,” dramatically ended in a victory for the U.S. over Europe because of a missed putt.
“Given the notoriety of the 1991 Ryder Cup, our Ryder Cup format is the most popular tournament for a large group,” Haskins said. “This team format is ideal because it divides a larger group into two teams. While golfers compete with each other on an individual basis, the aggregate points system determines which team wins the overall competition.”
After play, groups have a variety of spaces to choose from for receptions, dinners and award ceremonies, including a large terrace lawn overlooking the ocean and the iconic clubhouse.
“Groups can host a dinner in the Atlantic Room inside the clubhouse, with an opening reception on the wraparound porch and sprawling lawn,” Haskins suggested.
Hall of fame players and golf course architects Greg Norman, Tom Fazio, Pete Dye and Davis Love III are the marquee names associated with the four courses groups can play at Barefoot Resort & Golf.
Love Golf Course Overhead View, Barefoot Resort & Golf
“Each one achieved their goal of creating unique, visually striking and fun-to-play courses,” said Dave Genevro, the resort’s general manager.
These golf courses do indeed garner attention, as Barefoot has hosted everything from the Golf Channel’s hit TV show “Big Break Myrtle Beach” to the Hootie and the Blowfish Monday After the Masters charity tournament.
Barefoot also arranges a variety of tournaments for corporate groups who can customize play. One popular format for team outings is captain’s choice, also known as a scramble.
“Captain’s choice is what it’s called in the South,” Genevro said. “Players hit a tee shot and then everyone hits from the best first drive. A lot of people want to participate, and this makes it a much more relaxed atmosphere for unskilled players.”
Barefoot Resort & Golf also accommodates pre- and post-golf receptions and meal functions in its two clubhouses. Generally, more than 100 people use the Resort Clubhouse and groups of fewer than 100 people book the Dye Clubhouse.
There is also an onsite F&B staff standing by to create a personalized menu that matches any budget.
Pawleys Plantation, home to onsite accommodations, a 6,500-square-foot conference center and an acclaimed golf course, is an ideal host for corporate events.
Pawleys Plantation Clubhouse Exterior
The course was designed by one of golf’s greats, Jack Nicklaus, who returned in the fall of 2018 to celebrate Pawleys Plantation’s 30th birthday.
“Pawleys Plantation is universally regarded as one of the prettiest courses in all of South Carolina,” said Justin Binke, director of marketing and sales for Founders Group International, Myrtle Beach’s leading golf management company.
He added the 13th hole, featuring a peninsula green exposed to a marsh on three sides, is one of the Myrtle Beach area’s most photographed holes.
Any tournament format can be arranged here. Additionally, receptions and meal functions are set up in a variety of onsite spaces, including a private dining facility in the clubhouse and on the veranda, which overlooks the 18th hole. The veranda is the perfect backdrop for golfers who’d enjoy a cocktail reception or cookout after a round.
Wild Dunes Resort, located about 30 minutes from charming downtown Charleston, is considered “Charleston’s island resort.”
Wild Dunes Resort Golf at Sunset, Isle of Palms
It’s home to onsite accommodations, ample meeting space and two 18-hole golf courses designed by Tom Fazio.
The Links Course features hole No. 18, a standout for selfies, offering breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. The Harbor Course features lagoons, salt marshes and stunning views of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Planners can book both courses for tournaments with up to 288 players. A variety of tournament packages are available, including everything from meals and beverage cart service to an open bar during the awards reception.
Receptions and meal functions are hosted in spaces including the elegant 10,000-square-foot Sweetgrass Pavilion, the comfortable indoor/outdoor Palmetto Hall and the flexible Fazio Room and Deck, which overlooks the Links Course fairways.
Wild Dunes Resort also has onsite catering offering everything from Lowcountry barbecue to classic burgers and hot dogs.
The William Byrd-designed Preserve at Verdae surrounds the Embassy Suites by Hilton Greenville Golf Resort & Conference Center, which is a one-stop shop for groups.
Pavilion Event Setup at The Preserve at Verdae
Traditional tournaments are often arranged for groups on the course and several other golf-themed activities are available.
Among them are “Sandwich and Sand Wedge” lunch breaks during which attendees enjoy a boxed lunch and golf lessons at the driving range, and evening cocktail receptions featuring glow-in-the-dark putting contests on the practice green.
“We have also had our head golf pro speak to meetings groups about the game of golf and how it can be integrated into business,” said Stacey Dawkins, the resort’s director of sales and marketing.
Onsite function spaces include the Pavilion at the Preserve, the Terrace at Embassy and a large deck located off the golf shop overlooking the practice putting green.
“These are great areas that have hosted everything form a casual barbecue or hamburger/hot dog cookout to an upscale awards reception with specialty decor, lighting and cocktails,” Dawkins said.
Hotel and Venue Openings and Renovations in South Carolina
Hotel Bennett, located in the heart of downtown Charleston, opened in January with 179 guest rooms and suites, an onsite restaurant, spa, and over 12,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event and meeting space, including a 6,600-square-foot ballroom.
Grand Bohemian Hotel Greenville, a Kessler Collection hotel, is slated to open in 2021 with 160 guest rooms, 4,000 square feet of ballroom space, a spa, restaurant, bar and art gallery.
SpringHill Suites Greenville Downtown/Residence Inn Greenville Downtown, a combination hotel, opened in February with 286 guest rooms and suites, and more than 13,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
Hyatt Place Greenville Downtown opened downtown in November 2018. The property has 130 guest rooms and 2,800 square feet of meeting space.
A 167-room AC Hotel is scheduled to open in downtown Greenville in July 2020.
An open concept venue called Westfield recently opened downtown with 20,000 square feet of flexible space to accommodate a variety of events.
The Caravelle Resort, which has more than 4,000 square feet of meeting space, recently underwent a renovation that included updates to hundreds of guest rooms and on-site restaurant.
Ocean Enclave by Hilton Grand Vacations opened in May with 307 oceanfront guest rooms.
THEBlvd, a 55,000-square-foot complex along the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, opened last year. The updated beach club includes several restaurants that accommodate groups, including Tin Roof Myrtle Beach with more than 10,000 square feet of event space.
Twelve 33 Distillery, the Myrtle Beach area’s first craft distillery, opened in May. The facility features several group-friendly spaces that accommodate private meetings and events, including a 3,000-square-foot tasting room for up to 200 guests.
Editor's Note: Article posted on 09.17.19 and updated 09.20.19.
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