Expert Advice

First Time At The Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions? 4 Members Share Their Top Advice

How to prepare for an unforgettable week

The Vacationeer

Mark your calendars for January 15–21, 2024. The Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions quickly approaches. We asked four Hilton Grand Vacations Members — Eric Z., Gina P., Laurie L. and Mike and Deanna O. — to share their go-to tips to make the most of this unforgettable HGV Ultimate Access* event.

Taking selfies with celebrities at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions 

What To Expect

If this is your first golf outing, knowing what to expect from a week-long event can be daunting. Don’t worry; you’re not alone.

Laurie admitted to being nervous at the beginning. “I’ve never been around celebrities, so I assumed I shouldn’t bother them. However, I had celebrities come up to me asking if I wanted a selfie when they saw me taking pictures,” she said.

Laurie even got a picture with Alfonso Ribeiro, known for his role on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” at one of the concerts. “I went to the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions for the celebrities. That’s why it was my top vacation of the year, even though I’m not a golfer.”

So what’s the easiest way to navigate the course and follow the stars? “Make sure to get the player pairings,” said Deanna. “That way, you can plan and see the players that you want.”

Celebrities walking the green at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions 

Gina agreed. “The tee sheet is critical. Starting lineups are available online every day. If you have a particular player you want to watch, find out which hole they will tee off on and get in on the action early.”

To maximize your time, head out early. Gina added, “Mornings are the best time to watch the tournament because they’re quiet. The crowd is light, and you’ll have the best opportunity to see players up close as they tee off. The afternoons tend to be more crowded but also more energetic.”

Then, as you’re wrapping up your day, learn from Mike and Deanna. “Be cognizant of the shuttle times.  It’s about a $30 rideshare to get back to your hotel.”

What To Do

Once you’re at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, the course is yours to explore. “There are two approaches to seeing the event,” Deanna and Mike explained. “One, sit at a particular hole and watch the players pass by. As Centum+ Members, we sat at the 10th tee box on the second day, and it was awesome. We were close to food and had pictures with many of the players. Just make sure to hydrate and pace yourself with drinking. The bartenders make fabulous drinks.”

Spectators consult the tee sheet at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions 

“The second approach is to walk the course hole-by-hole to understand the players’ perspective. Then pick your favorite player and follow them along the course,” they said.

“Don’t stay in one place. Walk the course,” Eric added. “That’s something my son and I wished we did last time. We spent too much time in one place when we should’ve explored the course more. Overall, the event is well-organized, so it was easy to get on the shuttle in the morning and watch some great golf.”

Mike and Deanna’s top advice may surprise you. “Mingle with other Hilton Grand Vacations Members. We met a couple at the concert, and they told us about their cruises and an incredible hot-air balloon festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We just booked a few cruises and hopefully can visit Santa Fe soon. Hearing other vacation stories helps us make plans for the future using our membership.”

A Hilton Grand Vacations Member takes a selfie with Marcus Allen at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions 

What To Pack

Orlando enjoys sunny weather year-round. However, that doesn’t mean January doesn’t get cold. “Dress appropriately in layers. The mornings can be chilly. Near the end, it can get hot and sunny,” said Deanna and Mike. Layers allow you to stay comfortable all day despite the temperature changes. “Also, bring sunblock,” they added.

Eric advised, “Make sure to charge your phone and bring a portable charger. All the celebrities we talked to were super friendly and open to photos or a quick chat. I saw people get autographs, so bring a notepad and pen if you’re old school.”

Laurie credited one surprise item to making her Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions experience exceptional. “If you have a Hilton Honors™ American Express card, bring it. We got free entry into their exclusive tent and free drinks. We sat there and comfortably watched players tee off. I can’t imagine anything better than that.”

A volunteer holds a sign that says, "Quiet" during the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions 

Other Helpful Tips

  • Use a clear, stadium-style bag to carry your phone, portable charger, reusable water bottle, tee list and other essentials.
  • Check the forecast beforehand and add an umbrella or poncho if it calls for rain.
  • While food is available on the course, it never hurts to bring snacks.
  • Bring along friends and family — the more, the merrier.
  • When walking the course, pay attention to your surroundings. Volunteers may signal for silence during play to help players focus.
  • If you’re new to golf, learn a bit about the sport ahead of time.
  • Follow Hilton Grand Vacations on Facebook, Instagram and X for the latest updates.

Read “4 Things To Expect At The Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, According To Members.


*To attend HGV Ultimate Access events (valued between $500–$3,500), Guests must attend a membership review or timeshare sales presentation during their stay in the same week as the event. If you do not attend the membership review or timeshare presentation, the retail value of the event may be charged to your credit card. HGV Ultimate Access events are subject to availability, nontransferable and subject to change without notice. Experience fee applies, minimum of $99 per event, to be paid at time of booking. Offer dates may change due to event availability. Offers may not be used in conjunction with any other promotion.

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The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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