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Visitors Bureau extends ski pass idea to golfing

Published: 06/16/2009
Because the super pass idea has worked so well stimulating tourist interest in skiing Salt Lake County's resorts, why not try it with golfing in the summer?

And why not make it available to locals, too?

The Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau is giving the idea a shot. Although golf doesn't have the destination-tourist allure of skiing -- hardly anyplace anywhere can match Salt Lake's skiing attributes, while nice golf courses can be found almost everywhere -- there's no harm in trying.

For 10 participating Salt Lake courses, the benefits could help ease some of the recession's pain.

"We already get a lot of tourists who stay up in Park City, either for a week or for a few months. We definitely want to get more people from there," said Mike Brimley, head pro at Mountain Dell golf course, which is off Interstate 80 partway up Parleys Canyon.

"I know it's not going to be like skiing [passes], but up here there's mountain biking, hiking and fishing, lots of things to do," he added. "We just want tourists to take one day and play golf."

The Golf Salt Lake Super Pass program makes it a little easier for them -- as well as locals -- to do so.

When purchased online for $45 per player (a $2 discount), the pass include 18 holes of golf, a cart, a small bucket of range balls and a 10 percent to 20 percent discount on rental clubs. The price goes down to $40 per player per round when the pass is purchased as part of a package at Salt Lake Valley hotels.

In addition, the pass allows golfers in groups of two to 12 to make tee times 60 days in advance. For the most part, Salt Lake courses limit advance bookings to seven days.

"Bonneville can be pretty tough to get on, so the main advantage is that 60-day advance to get tee times," said Rick Allison, assistant pro at the popular east bench golf course. "City courses mostly get local golfers, but we get quite a few calls from the hotels, people looking for tee times."

The Convention & Visitors Bureau initiated the program this year, mindful that sales of its Ski Salt Lake super passes -- good at Salt Lake County's four resorts, Brighton, Solitude, Snowbird and Alta -- reached $3.2 million last winter,

"This pass provides a great opportunity to play several of the beautifully diverse golf courses Salt Lake has to offer," said Bureau President and CEO Scott Beck.

For David Terry, director of Salt Lake City's golf enterprise fund, the program emphasizes "value," a term that tourism analysts consistently describe as a driving force behind travel behavior in tough economic times.

"Our golf courses provide a wonderful combination of quality playing conditions, mountain scenery and affordable green fees," he said.

Ryan Colemere, assistant pro at South Mountain Golf Course in Draper, does not expect to see many tourists heading his way because of the promotion. "It's tough to say if it will help or not. But, obviously, it won't hurt. It's another avenue of advertising that will get the course out there" in the public eye.

Like Colemere, Allison said Bonneville officials are "waiting and wondering" how the program will come off. But there's no doubt in his mind that "while our [number of] rounds has been real good, with the weather and the economy, anything we can do to get golfers is great."