In 2008, PGA Magazine’s Matthew Barnes invited me to become involved with the PGA Ambassador Program, which is designed to encourage the PGA professionals to personally experience and preview specific destinations, resorts and golf courses. Through first-hand exposure, PGA professionals are shown the best a region has to offer, with the primary goal being to eventually increase room sales and rounds of golf at these specific destinations through the professional’s home membership. Currently, PGA Magazine is working with Jamaica, Costa Rica, Georgia, Nevada, California, Florida, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Canada, Scotland and Ireland as locales for the Ambassador Program.
It is important to note that PGA professionals influence approximately 60 percent of the domestic golf travel market. This translates to $16 billion in revenue, annually! PGA professionals often escort golf groups to specific destinations and recommend travel locales at which to play golf and book rooms. This is where the Ambassador Program is a tremendous help, because most PGA professionals are reluctant to recommend or refer golfers to destinations they themselves are not familiar with through first-hand experience, reputation or brand.
I’ve had the honor to be involved with two Ambassador trips and warmly look forward to more in the future. The first was to Scotland, and what an awesome trip it was to the home of golf! Scotland’s national tourism organization, Visit Scotland, did an outstanding job of making us all feel welcome, and the world-renowned golf cou rable week. The hotels our group stayed in were all five-star rated and included the Marcliffe at Ptifodels, The Inn at Lathones, and the Cameron House – all had incredible accommodations and excellent food. However, the crux of the experience was golf: Carnoustie, Royal Aberdeen, Kings Barns, Castle Course, Old Course at St Andrews, Gleneagles and the Carrick Golf Club were all played. Scotland offers the trip of a lifetime and is a must for any PGA golf professional to experience. It is a perfect destination for golfers to experience the history and the culture of golf which can be traced back 600 years. On this small island, there are 550 golf courses waiting to be played!
My most-recent PGA Ambassador trip was to British Columbia, Canada. Organized by Tourism Vancouver and Tourism Whistler, our group met in Vancouver, then took a two-hour coach ride to Whistler, full of breathtaking mountain and water views. Our accommodations were at the award-winning Fairmont Chateau Whistler nestled at the base of Blackcomb Mountain. The hotel offers ski-in and ski-out convenience and the on-site Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club. Designed by renowned golf course architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr., the course provides a fun playing challenge for all abilities.
Golfers climb 400 feet in the first four holes of the golf course, surrounded by breathtaking views of the mountains and the glacier-filled lakes. We were fortunate to also play at the Nicklaus North Golf Course and the Whistler Golf Club. Both courses were fantastic and solidified the fact that Whistler is an incredible destination to bring golf groups. The golf, paired with the incredible assortment of outside activities such as the record-breaking Peak-to-Peak Gondola ride, ATV tours, rafting, mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking and the kindness and courtesy of the staff and locals all make for an unforgettable experience.
It has been tremendous being involved with the PGA Ambassador Program, and I encourage all professionals to take the opportunity if offered. If you have any questions about the Ambassador program, or of the two destinations I’ve traveled, please contact me, email@example.com. Bon voyage!