ResortsApril 18, 2016

Selling Golf as "An Experience," Not Just a Round of 18

Joel Riner, Quicksilver Studios

Spring is an exciting time for golfers in the Northwest. Once the snow has melted, there's a definite waggle in the air. At Coeur d'Alene Resort in northern Idaho, director of golf Bob Nuttleman and his crew are especially excited to usher in the new season after a relatively mild run of winter months. (The Idaho golf season is typically short but sweet, running from mid April to mid October.) "This winter has treated the course well; it's in the best condition it's been in a while this early," he says.

The Coeur d'Alene Resort Golf Course, just 30 minutes from Spokane, is widely recognized for its iconic floating green on the par-3 14th hole, but also for the top-notch course conditions and the facility's careful attention to detail. Owner Duane Hagadone, who grew up in the town, "is meticulous about the course conditions," says Nuttelman. As a result, the course is sporting 18 new T-1 bent-grass greens this season—the native Poa Annua had been slowly creeping in and mixing with the bent grass greens, creating a less uniform look (the grasses are different shades of green). "Most people wouldn't have noticed, but Duane wants it to be perfect," says Nuttelman, who's been with Coeur d'Alene since its opening (the resort is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year). Hagadone is also a passionate gardener, which explains the literally thousands of geraniums, petunias and wild flowers that edge the fairways and greens.

Photo: Joel Riner, Quicksilver Studios

Many area courses aerate their greens in the fall while the course is still open to guests. Coeur d'Alene waits until the season is over. "We don't want to dilute the experience for the resort guests. We don't want them to have regrets " say Nuttleman.

This attention to detail carries over to the entire golf experience. Once at the hotel, golfers needn't worry about their clubs again (they can even be shipped from home via Ship Sticks). The course is about a mile from the resort by land, but the shortest distance is via the lake in a classic mahogany boat. Golfers are met at the dock by their personal forecaddie, who's already loaded their clubs on the carts. "We want them to get off to a good start," says Nuttleman. Many guests return year after year and request the same caddie, he says. The carts are newly equipped with touch screen GPS and have been customized for the resort with a ball washer, trunk, trash, cooler, heated seats--features that are not only handy for players, but also a way to keep the course pristine and uncluttered. A massage therapist from the spa is on the range to provide a warm-up sports massage to any golfer who wants one.

"The floating green may have gotten them here, to cross that one off the bucket list, but the overall experience is what keeps them coming back," says Nuttelman. "We try to sell it as a golf experience, not just a round of golf."

Joel Riner, Quicksilver Studios

WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS