When Barbara Gutstadt started Women's Golf & Travel Concierge three years ago, her goal was to create packages that not only put women together on the course but also beyond it, with more luxurious rooms and off-the-course extras like nice dinners and side excursions.
It's a concept that grew quickly, and one whose potential for growth was recognized with this month's acquisition of her business by Premier Golf, a licensed PGA partner and one of world's leading golf travel companies.
The merger is expected to be a boon for both companies, helping Gutstadt, who will remain director of Women's Golf & Travel Concierge, expand her offerings while enabling Premier Golf to better tap into the fast-growing market for female golfers and the more diverse, and often higher-end, trips they are demanding for themselves and their families.
When it comes to men's golf travel, Gutstadt says, "they like to golf, drink beer, smoke cigars. They are not necessarily concerned about the resort. Women are more distinctive. They like the best resorts, the experience."
For example, she said, while men who take golf trips generally want to play as many holes as possible every day, one of her recent trips to South Africa combined golf with days off that included trips to wineries and safaris.
Although she says her company has grown quickly in its three short years, by selling to Premier Golf she can now expand both the number of trips and the types of offerings by gaining to access to Premier's broader infrastructure, history and connections with PGA resorts.
"We are thrilled to have Women's Golf Travel & Concierge as part of the Premier Golf family," said Jim Ward, president of Premier Golf. "Barbara has long been a champion for women's golf and having her on board further enhances our ability to provide outstanding golf vacations, particularly for women who are new to the game."
It also makes Premier Golf the only official source for packages to both the PGA's premier event, the Ryder Cup, and to the LPGA's equivalent, the Solheim Cup, which Gutstadt's company serves.
Premier Golf has been a licensed partner of the PGA of America for more than 26 years, managing much of the organization's in-house travel department, professional golf management programs nationwide and packages for PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
The idea of selling her company to Premier, Gutstadt said, came about after she met Ward last year and they started talking about the huge growth in women and junior golfers.
"We both said, 'We should be doing this together,'" Gutstadt said. "Everyone realizes the women's market is one that is very desirable."