|The Ultimate Buddy Trip at Crystal Springs. Photo courtesy of the resort.|
“Kids have done a lot to transform our two nine hole facilities,” Walton says. “It makes it more fun, not to mention easier, and certainly different.” Minerals has a full calendar of parent-junior events throughout the year and both courses offer family-friendly pricing, kids rental clubs, and rookie tee times. “That took off," Walton says, "and each year our percentage of family golf has increased. It feels good and it’s been good from a financial standpoint, too. We’re growing the player segment.”
The resort isn't resting on its laurels. The Minerals course, a Robert Trent Jones design, is getting renovations to make it even more family-friendly. "The second hole has an elevated green with two bunkers in the front guarding the approach," Walton explains. "We took out one bunker and created a play-up area so you can hit it short and play on up. The par four fifth hole is a dog-leg right with a fairway bunker at the turn. We took out that bunker and created a run-up area for the green."
The single most popular innovation? "The four seater family carts are the best," says Walton. "Everyone in the family can ride together and you don’t have to worry about different sets of clubs."
The results have been rewarding, according to Walton, who points out, "The one limiting factor on family golf is the school year, of course, so you have a compressed season.” They still expect to log 13,000 rounds annually for family play on Minerals and a few less on Cascades.
He sums up the Crystal Springs philosophy perfectly: “You have to make it fun. People play for a lot of different reasons. Some are competitive, some aren’t. Some play for business, others to meet people. It makes you feel good when you try something like family golf and it works.”
Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf