Fla. golf course operators join forces

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Nine golf course operators have formed an organization to increase business, especially during the off-season (June to October).

The name of the promotional group is Golf Escapes of South Florida. For a $1.50 fee per reservation, travel agents will be able to give South Florida-bound clients a tee-off confirmation at one or more of the nine participating courses, according to Diane Gwinn, part-time executive director of the new association.

GolfSwitch, Scottsdale, Ariz., will provide the software that establishes the link to the courses from an agent's CRS or personal computer. (CRS approvals are pending.) GolfSwitch's sales office is in Minneapolis.)

Gwinn also is the marketing director for the Deer Creek Golf Club in Deerfield Beach, and the Carolina Club, Margate, two of the participating courses.

The other courses are Emerald Dunes in West Palm Beach: Polo Trace in Delray Beach; the Palm Aire Country Club & Resort in North Pompano Beach; the Bonaventure Country Club in Fort Lauderdale; the Jacaranda Golf Club in Plantation; the Inverrary Country Club in Lauderhill, and the Golf Club of Miami. Greens fee range from $35 at Carolina Club to $150 at Emerald Dunes.

"Agents will have an opportunity on their terminals to pull up all nine courses and directly give [clients] tee times," Gwinn said.

Agents who agree to have software installed in their CRS also will be able to arrange golf in eight other areas: Hilton Head Island, S.C.; Ocean City, Md.; Atlantic City, N.J.; Las Vegas; Tucson and Scottsdale, Ariz.; Pinehurst, N.C., and Southern California, she noted.

Gwinn said she expected the software to be available by March. In the interim, agents can book directly with her.

About 56 of the 75 golf courses in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties are open to the public.

Golf Escapes expects to have its own toll-free number available by late January, Gwinn said. A temporary phone number is available.

Franklin Golf Properties-Golf Escapes, Phone: (954) 429-0006. GolfSwitch sales, Phone: (612) 930-3200

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