Ron Ireland, the winner of the 2012 Northeastern New York PGA Section Bill Strausbaugh Award, is the secretary of the Northeastern New York PGA Section and PGA general manager at Saratoga Golf & Polo Club in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
As many PGA Professionals based in the northern states know, the winters can be long and harsh, and member engagement can grind to a halt. At Saratoga Golf & Polo Club, we started an event to keep our members engaged in the dead of winter called Winter Fest. Winter Fest costs only $25 per person and combines all of the club’s activities into one fun day. We offer golf, tennis, and food & beverage. This includes a full buffet as well as fun outdoor food, such as s’mores. In years past, we offered instruction to members as they hit range balls down the ninth fairway, but this year we used SNAG Golf equipment to get more juniors and beginners involved. Because we used SNAG, golf was by far the most popular activity this year! The tennis staff has also been using SNAG-like equipment for their activities. In addition to the sports, we offer sleigh rides, ice skating, sledding for the kids, hire a clown and have face painting too.
Winter Fest has been a huge success at our club. The event has become very popular with the membership, which looks forward to it each winter. This past year, we had approximately 75 people in attendance, which is welcome business for the club and the food & beverage operation during the cold winter months. The event creates a lot of value for our members and because of this, Winter Fest has grown over the years. Through our instruction and fun golf games, it really gets our members excited about the upcoming spring season.
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