“Zero Waste” is no longer a buzzword, but a way of life for more and more people across the globe. Increasingly sustainable lifestyles affect almost every decision we make from where we shop, right down to the events we choose to participate in.

It’s no wonder tournaments like The Waste Management Phoenix Open – best known as “greenest show on grass” – are joining the global movement and attracting hundreds of thousands of attendees year after year! Recognized as the largest zero waste sporting event in the world, this infamous golf tournament diverted 100% of their waste, restored 50 Million gallons of water and raised $14 Million in charitable donations (including for environmental causes) in 2020 alone.

Split picture of golfer celebrating and waste management infographic
Photo source: The Waste Management Phoenix Open Website and Facebook Page

You’re here because hosting a more sustainable event matters to you and your community of supporters. And while your golf tournament fundraiser may not be on the same scale as the WMPO, there’s still plenty of opportunity to do your part for the well-being of the planet.

That’s why this Earth Day, we’re sharing 16 easy ideas that will help you keep your golf tournament as low waste as possible:

Green Event Marketing

Man working on laptop and looking at phone with email icons floating

1. Do most (or all!) of your tournament marketing digitally vs. with flyers. This will not only save significant paper, but reduce the need to drive around, while increasing your reach and saving you money. See our FREE Ultimate 1-Year Charity Golf Tournament Content & Communications Calendar for digital marketing ideas to use on your social media, website and email.

2. Opt for email event invitations and thank-you cards to save even more unnecessary printing waste and delivery-related emissions.

3. Don’t forget to mention your tournament’s green initiatives in your marketing materials! It may just be your ticket to converting like-minded individuals into supporters of your tournament.

Gifts and Prices

Green water bottle on grass with logo placement positiont

4. Instead of single-use plastic water bottles, hand out reusable ones as a guest favor at the beginning of the day. This is a great opportunity to engage a sponsor in your green initiatives by featuring their logo on the bottle as part of their package. Just make sure to have refill stations available throughout your golf course location!

5. Approach eco-friendly sponsors to provide more sustainable options for your golfer gift bag. Some options could include eco-friendly golf balls or tees made from bamboo. Plus, put your green gifts in a reusable fabric tote golfers can reuse for grocery shopping.

6. Should you choose to gift apparel, choose a high-quality, sustainable option your golfers are sure to reuse again and again. Check out Voraus Golf who manufacture their apparel with REPREVE® 100% recycled bottle fibers.

7. If you’re hosting contests, consider offering experiences over items as prizes. For example: tickets to a sports game, concert or free rounds of golf at your host course.

On the Green

Tournamet location with recylcing and composting boxes in parking lot
Photo Source: Waste Management Facebook Page

8. Be sure to tell your chosen or prospective host golf course that sustainability is important to you. Ask them what they currently do or can do to help lower their own footprint as well as the footprint of your event. You can ask your host course the following questions, or use them to help you compare options if you have yet to pick a location:

  • Do you have compost and recycling bins/programs/abilities?
  • How can we work together to ensure guests are disposing of waste properly?
  • If they’re catering: What steps does your kitchen take to help reduce food waste? How much of your ingredients are locally sourced?

9. When selecting a golf course, you may also want to consider the overall commute for your golfers. Choose a location that’s as close as possible to your target attendees to reduce emissions and encourage carpooling wherever possible.

10. Digital scoring options like Event Caddy Live Scoring help you avoid wasted paper while making your tournament more exciting for golfers who want live updates on where they’re placing. And BONUS: with a built-in digital ad banner that you can sell as part of your sponsorships, you have the opportunity to get more eyes on your sponsors, paper free and print free!

11. Encourage your golfers to “leave the course the way you found it”. It will be helpful to recruit dedicated volunteers to keep an eye out for litter and encourage players to dispose of any waste appropriately.

12. If you host an annual event, be sure to reuse everything you can from tournament signage to volunteer t-shirts.

Food & Drink

Chef perapering green vegetables on cardboard containers

13. Try your best to use glass or reusable table settings for your post-tournament banquet. If reusable is not an option, opt for compostable plates and utensils (just make sure you’re able to provide a compost bin and clear directions for disposal).

14. Offer plenty of plant based options for your meal.

15. If you’re going with a third-party caterer, choose a restaurant that sources local ingredients and supports sustainable practices with their preparation.

16. Choose and communicate a preferred registration cutoff date to your players that allows you enough time to accurately predict meal quantities to avoid food waste. Using a golf tournament management software with online registration & payment helps make it easier for your golfers to commit early.

BONUS TIP: Haven’t chosen a cause yet? Give back to green initiatives!

If you’ve always wanted to turn your annual golf tournament into a fundraiser, this could be a great opportunity to give back to something you really care about. Hey, you’ve made it this far – you must have a passion for sustainability! Consider hosting your tournament in support of a respected environmental charity like:

Do your research and choose a charity that speaks most to your values and that you’d be proud to support with a fundraising event.

We hope you’ve learned that hosting a low waste golf tournament fundraiser doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Just as what’s true with living a sustainable lifestyle, taking small steps toward change can wind up making a big impact.

Wishing you a very happy Earth Day from all of us at Event Caddy!