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Classic Golf Tours Caters to the Discerning Traveling Golfer

AURORA, CO - Classic Golf Tours president Peter Hellman "fell in love with the Internet before falling in love with the Internet was cool," to borrow a line from an old country music song. The year was 1996, and Hellman had been in the golf tour package business for over six years. Up until that point, he and his staff had simply provided golfers with knowledgeable "escorts" on overseas and domestic golf trips.

Hellman doesn't claim to be a riverboat gambler, but he did roll the dice when hiring Doug Phelps in 1996 to design and launch a new tour package company equipped with a state-of-the-art website. Phelps, the nephew of golf course architect Dick Phelps, stepped in and worked with Hellman to create what is now Classic Golf Tours. The company has since blossomed into a full service golf tour operator, and Hellman says the Internet gets a large chunk of the credit.

"Nearly 85 percent of our clients come from the Internet. That is the way that people around the world are researching and
booking their golf vacations in this day and age," Hellman says.

Just how influential has the dot-com world been in the golf and travel industry? Hellman likes to relay a story about some clients in London to illustrate the role the Internet has played in his business.

"We had some golfers in London call us to arrange a golf trip to Scotland," he says. "Here we are, thousands of miles a way in land-locked Colorado, and they have accessed our website and want us to handle everything for them, including transportation. I mean, they could just get in their cars and drive up there, but they are calling us. That is just another example of how the Internet has revolutionized travel."

Likewise, Classic Golf Tours has revolutionized the golf packaging business by letting golfers build their own trips. Rather than offer a menu of different packages, Classic Golf Tours focuses on destinations and the best courses and accommodations those regions have to offer. Sure, Hellman says, there are sample packages listed at the website, but these are just suggestions to get the juices flowing.

"We avoid places like Myrtle Beach, because there are people better equipped to do high volume, low yield destinations like that," Hellman says. "We concentrate on the high end destinations that will garner repeat business."

Hellman admits that Classic Golf Tours had to shift its focus since the terrorist attacks of 9-11. The "fly" market for golf related travel suffered traumatically and has still not totally recovered. To make up for lost business, Hellman says the company has heavily marketed Colorado as a golf destination for those suffering through the sultry summers of Texas and the blazing heat in the Southwestern U.S. The former developer and graduate of the Thunderbird Graduate School of International Business believes the market will correct itself and flourish in 2003 and 2004, and when it does, he has his eye on Europe.

"Right now, most Europeans are traveling to Florida and even California to play golf," Hellman says. "I think Colorado has a lot of appeal to them. There's that mountain man image and plenty of great golf."

Classic Golf Tours offers both domestic and international golf packages, with an overseas emphasis on Scotland, the birthplace of the game. The company actually retains an office onsite to ensure that customers get the most up-to-date information on course conditions and other goings on.

"We are unique among packagers that serve Scotland in that we are tapped into the bed and breakfast industry," Hellman says. "Most (packagers) will put clients in small hotel rooms, but with the B and B's, they come into more contact with the people and get to know the culture."

Classic Golf Tours' most popular domestic destination is Arizona, Hellman says, because of the availability of year-round golf and its reputation among westerners as a winter getaway. California is a close second, buoyed by the Monterey Peninsula and its world-renowned courses. Napa Valley and Southern California are also popular draws, as are Palm Desert and Palm Springs.

Whatever the destination, the objective remains the same: get people into the golf vacation of their dreams at a reasonable price.

"I would say 95 percent of our customers want custom packages," Hellman says. "What we try to do is find out their handicaps, their taste in courses, and their budget. Doug makes frequent visits to all our destinations and we give each location due diligence in terms of knowing what is going on with course conditions, new courses and other news."

 
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Dates: April 5, 2017 - December 31, 2017
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