How to Run a Golf Tournament - The Basic Steps
As many of you know, hosting a charity golf tournament is no easy task. Between creating the day’s agenda, tracking down sponsorship payments, and organizing contests, organizing golf tournaments can very quickly become a full time job. We at Event Caddy know how overwhelming this can be, so we’ve put together 7 key steps that will help you with your next event.
1. Setting Goals
There are a number of reasons to host a golf tournament: customer or employee appreciation, fundraising, competitive fun, and of course, networking. You’ll want to determine the overall purpose of this event.
Setting goals are an important step when trying to accomplish anything in life. Running a golf tournament is no different. Once you determine the overall objective of the tournament, you should create goals in order to achieve that objective.
Some questions to ask yourself:
What is the purpose of this event?
How much does this event plan to raise?
How many players are needed?
You’ll want to make sure that your goals and objectives are presented to all committee members to ensure everyone is on the same page. Too frequently, I see committee members who are trying to go in different directions. This not only causes more confusion from a planning standpoint, but can cause major setbacks to the overall execution of your event.
2. Selecting a Committee
Running a golf tournament requires a lot of hard work, and it’s important to put together a solid team that can help things run smoothly. You’ll want to put together a committee that can help you reach your tournament goals. It’s important to find volunteers who can help you with specific areas of your event. Some areas you’ll want help in:
Budget: This is one of the most important areas of your event, so make sure someone with a good understanding of costs is in charge of this. You’ll want to make sure all potential costs are in place ahead of time to allow other committee members to go about their duties freely. Be sure player fees cover the majority of the costs and allow sponsorships and event-day revenues (mulligans, auctions, etc) to increase profits.
Sponsorships: Assign a member to contact to potential sponsors and keep in touch with your current sponsors. Sponsors are a large part of every golf event, so it’s essential that you maintain a strong working relationship with these partners.
Registrations: Make sure you assign a committee member to be in charge of registrations. You want to make it clear to potential players who they should contact if they’d like to register or if they have any questions.
Also, it’s always worthwhile to explore options for online registrations, as manual registrations can consume a great deal of time for both players and organizers. This time can be better spent on other areas of your event.
Gifts/Donations: You’ll also want to assign someone to gifts and donations. It’s fairly common that local businesses will be more than willing to support your event by providing gifts/coupons. They key here is to ask! Put someone in charge of this who has a strong network of contacts they can reach out to, and that isn’t afraid of getting “NO” as an answer. If you are allocating money for the purchase of gifts, be sure to budget accordingly and ensure your designated committee member remains within this budget.
Promotion: When done correctly, you won’t have to worry too much about the promotion of your event as most players should come from current relationships, however you may want to assign someone this role. They can look after updating websites/flyers and getting the word out.
3. Tournament Format
The majority of tournaments opt for a scramble format, as it allows all golfers regardless of their skill to enjoy a day of golf and to compete for the chance to be crowned the winner. This format usually generates the highest number of participants. However, when selecting your format, it is crucial you take into account the calibre of players, as a tournament full of skilled golfers may be more excited for a stroke event, or even a modified scramble.
4. Golf Course/Venue
This is the biggest decision you’ll need to make when it comes to planning your golf tournament. Selecting the right golf course is crucial for your event to succeed. First, you should look at the quality of players you are expecting at your event. If you have highly skilled golfers, they will likely want to play a high end or more challenging course, and would even be more willing to pay more for this. Secondly, you need to have a good idea on numbers. If you are expecting no more than 144, a venue with one course should work just fine, however if you are looking to have between 144 and 288, you’ll want to find a venue that has multiple courses.
Remember, your tournament will be bringing quite a bit of business to the course. Be sure to shop around and find the best deal.
I constantly see organizers who are concerned with promoting their event. Be careful not to spend too much time or money on promotion efforts, because it’s highly unlikely that you’ll find golfers by promoting your event publicly. Utilize current relationships within your network to find players (e.g customers, friends, etc). Golfers will be more likely to take part if they have a relationship with the person, business, or organization that’s hosting the event.
The one thing you will want to promote is your sponsors. Making sure signage and displays for sponsors are done correctly is crucial in getting them back in the years to come. Your sponsors are typically happy to give money for a good cause, however, they want to feel like they are getting something in return. Display sponsorships on a website to provide even more value.
As discussed earlier, players are the most important part of your event. Making sure everything runs smoothly and the players enjoy themselves is crucial to running a successful golf event. Host a quick meeting for volunteers and staff prior to the start of your event to review timelines and objectives for the day.
Remember, golf events should be fun. If you and your committee are enjoying yourselves, there's a good chance the players will too.
7. Wrap Up
Once the event has ended, take the time to review all aspects of your event. Any feedback you can get from volunteers, players, or even committee members will only help to improve your event for next year. A quick email to all involved thanking them for the support can go a long way when attempting to get them back the following year.