You probably have one close by: a peaceful oasis of sweeping fairways and velvet greens—the perfect backdrop for a picture perfect wedding and reception.
Brides and grooms are drawn to golf courses’ natural beauty and serenity, and many take advantage of their built-in entertainment for the wedding weekend. “We often help our brides and grooms set up tournaments for their guests, either the day before the wedding or the day of,” says Shannon Tarrant of the Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida. “We’ve had groups of as many as 40 golfers all going out to play, including the bride!” Tarrant says it’s the perfect venue for couples seeking something more quiet and relaxed. “Nothing feels rushed. You can really enjoy the outdoors—our beautiful flowers and grounds, palm trees and big oaks with hanging moss—and really experience what Florida is all about.”
With gorgeous grounds, photographers are given a rich background to work with. “Most brides and grooms have their formal portraits taken on the golf course,” says Tarrant. The golf course can even offer some pre-ceremony entertainment for the wedding party as they get ready. Sydney Kamps, banquet manager at Hazeltine National Golf Club, says the groom and his groomsmen can dress for the wedding in the Learning Center, where there’s a golf simulator and a putting green. “The guys hang out, get ready, and practice their putting!”
Choosing a historic venue allows guests to interact with the greats of the past. Just outside Santa Cruz, California, the historic Hollins House at the Pasatiempo Golf Club offers a lovely wedding ceremony site overlooking the famed golf course and California’s sparkling Monterey Bay. The Hollins House was once the elegant home of Marion Hollins, champion golfer, pioneer golf course developer, and winner of the 1921 U.S. Women’s Amateur. Brides and grooms who marry at the Hollins House dine and dance in the same rooms where Hollins once entertained her illustrious guests such as Bobby Jones, Will Rogers, Spencer Tracy, and Clark Gable.
Wedding and Special Events Coordinator Margy Seifert has been at the Hollins House for 25 years. Overseeing about 40 weddings a year, Seifert says the historic house is the domestic answer to the dreamy weddings in faraway lands. “You can make it a destination wedding without going out of the country,” says Seifert.
Natural beauty and elegance
Peaceful, serene surroundings
Amazing photo ops around the grounds
Ability to handle larger guest sizes
Local alternative to a destination wedding
Ashley Shannon, Director of Sales at Teravista Golf Club in Round Rock, Texas, says the golf course’s beauty—and the historic Ranch House—attract couples looking for vintage chic ambiance. “Most weddings here are casual ... people come in boots and jeans. We’re just 20 minutes from Austin, but it feels like you’re in the country. A lot of places around here try to imitate that country, vintage-landmark look, but we’re the real deal!”
Sara Behrens, Director of Catering at Giants Ridge Golf & Ski Resort in Biwabik, Minnesota, also touches on the vintage rustic appeal: “Our couples love the outdoors, and the majority have outdoor wedding ceremonies. All of our sites have a rustic, woodsy appeal ... but we still make them elegant.”
While it may be hard (and expensive) to obtain a membership at private clubs, many of them welcome non-members to their club for weddings and special events. For example, Minnesota’s Hazeltine National Golf Club is a nationally recognized club-site of many championships, including the 1991 U.S. Open, the 2009 PGA Championship, and host of the next U.S. Ryder Cup—but you don’t have to be a club member to have your wedding there.
Of course, for the hardcore golfer, there’s no bigger draw than the fairway. Amateur or pro, many golfers choose to “walk down the green” for their wedding. According to Sydney Kamps, banquet manager of Hazeltine, the 2006 U.S. Amateur champion Richie Ramsay met his wife at Hazeltine. He was competing in the tournament; she was a server in the dining room. Ramsay ultimately won the tournament—and a bride. Last September, the couple returned to Hazeltine to get married.
“One of our brides actually played a hole with her wedding party, right after the ceremony was over, dressed in their full get-up, while the guests looked on,” says Behrens with a laugh. “Now that was fun.”
Seifert says that nine out of 10 couples incorporate golf into their wedding weekend. “I once had a golf pro who left his reception to go play golf,” she says with a laugh. “But everything was pretty much over ... dinner had been served, the toasts had been made, the cake had been cut, and people were dancing. The bride and the guests stayed at the reception—but the groom had a tee time!”
Patricia Kelly is a Minneapolis-based journalist and marketing communications writer.