From a professional standpoint, it made perfect sense to stay at the Ginn Reunion Resort during the PGA Merchandise Show the past couple of years.
From its location just off I-4, it was a 15-minute drive to the Orange County Convention Center, but convenience wasn’t the only advantage. Aesthetics also enhanced the experience of staying here, even when most of the time was spent walking the show floor off the grounds at Reunion.
In those rare moments that you have to yourself during the show, morning coffee or a cold libation later in the day was a pleasant break on a patio overlooking one of three golf courses on the property, especially with the occasional visit from somebody whose errant shot had arrived not far from where you are sitting.
I can relate for I’ve made a few of those types of shots in a couple of corporate events I’ve played at the Ginn Reunion, which boasts Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson designs.
The Palmer design, the Legacy, is a 6,916-yard, par 72 course on rolling terrain that features six tee boxes, while the 7,300-yard Nicklaus course, the Tradition, is a parkland design that puts a premium on forced carries and accuracy with its small greens.
Watson’s 7,257-yard, par 72 Independence Course puts the emphasis on strategy and can make a round seem like a day at the beach with its plentiful bunkers.
So, it’s a good idea to get there a few days before the show to take in a little golf and enjoy the other amenities of the Ginn Reunion such as tennis, a multi-acre Water Park, a fitness centre and boutique spa with various treatments and several restaurants and lounges that will also enhance a stay for your traveling members or clients.
One of the more unique attractions to the traveling golfer is the presence of the Annika Academy, which probably doesn’t need to be explained, but it is named after former No. 1 female player in the world, Annika Sorenstam.
“We have a lot of different packages available,” said Sorenstam’s sister Charlotta, who spent 11 years on the LPGA Tour herself.
“We have about five that are pretty standard and permanent,” she added. “We can also customize them if you come as a group of eight – that’s the maximum people we have. You can make it the way you want it.”
Packages include sessions and playing with Charlotta and work with Annika’s longtime coach Henri Reis and fitness instructor Kai Fusser. Packages start at $2,500 and go all the way up to the top-of-the-line package, the Soren-Slam, which is available for $12,000. All prices are U.S.
The Soren-Slam includes a photograph and autograph session, as well as lunch, a golf clinic and nine holes with Annika Sorenstam, golf instruction with Reis and Charlotta Sorenstam, dealing with such subjects as full swing, putting, chipping and bunker play.
Also included is fitness instruction and a nutritional overview with Fusser, three nights accommodation at the Ginn Reunion, breakfast and lunch each day, a personalized CD of your workout program, a golf video swing analysis, clubfitting on a Callaway system, 18 holes of golf, a playing course management session with Charlotta and a gift package.
Charlotta says that some people are intimidated about playing with Annika, who she says is very involved in the academy, as are members of her team during her legendary tour career. Charlotta adds that the emphasis is on personal attention.
“I think that’s what makes it a little special and also, we’re not a factory,” she said. “We only maximize our groups at eight and when we are eight, we’re actually divided into two groups, so you have four-to-one in the fitness to the instructor and two-to-one out on the range.
“When (students are) here for three days, you really become close. It’s a small group. It’s just having fun together really,” she added.