A staple of charity fundraising is the golf tournament. Last year, Scratch here even held one for the Society for the Protection of Mammoths. If you’ve never organized a tournament, it can be intimidatin’ though. But don’t you worry Rockheads, Scratch is here to help you.
You need to plan, plan, and plan some more. First thing you need to do is read this paper(PDF warning) to decide if a golf tournament is right for your charity. If it is then the next step is to start plannin’ MONTHS in advance. This is a huge undertakin’ and you will need time and help to hold it.
Planning Within Your Organization
- Decide what type of tournament you’d like to hold.
Types of Tournaments:
- “Pro-Am” tournament where golfers are paired with golf celebrities
- A “Celebrity” tournament where local and national celebrities will be enlisted to play alongside paying participants
- Open tournament where golfers of all levels are invited.
- Understand what expectations are with the tournament. Talk with leaders of the group about how much money they are expecting to raise. Learn how many volunteers they can provide. You cannot do this yourself and will need lots of help.
- Talk with others that have run charity golf tournaments and ask for tips. There may be things you just haven’t thought of that they have already mastered.
- Delegate responsibilities. Gather a few hard-working people together and put an individual in charge of volunteer recruiting, publicity, golf course relations, sponsor relations, and day of event management. You’ll have a hand in all those areas, but you’ll need people who are focused on their particular role to move things along. Check out this resource(PDF warning) for help organizing the committees.
- Choose the date carefully. Think about the weather and other possible conflicts during the weekend that you are considering for your event. Super Bowl Sunday might be a great day for a Florida tournament weather-wise, but a lot of golfers might have other plans that day. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce to find out if other Golf Tournaments or other large charity events are taking place in your area. Too many golf fundraisers could lead to low attendance and unattainable financial goals.
- Have an alternate day already in the books in case of inclement weather.
Finding a Course and Using Their Resources
- Secure the support of a local golf course. If you are working with a non-profit charity, your organization may be able to provide the course with a valuable tax write-off.
- Start with golf courses that you know already host charity tournaments. If a course has experience with these kinds of events, you can use that as a means of introducing your project: “I know you guys do a fantastic job with the (fill-in-the-blank) tournament and I was hoping you might consider helping us out with a similar event.”
- If the course regularly hosts charity events, talk with management about what they need from you and what they can provide you. The pros, catering folks and anyone else associated with the course can be invaluable in helping make sure that the event runs smoothly.
Publicity and Sponsorships
- Start the publicity at least two months early. Find out the community news editors and contacts at local newspapers and television stations and send them press releases with telephone call follow-ups. Let them know you have representatives from your charity, and even people that your charity benefits, are available for interviews. Do the same with local news websites and blogs. Ask to post fliers at local pro shops and sporting goods stores in your area. You can create even more buzz through a series of press releases listing the expected “celebrity” participants in your event.
- Start recruiting sponsors early in the planning stages. The better the prizes and food and refreshments, the more golfers and entry fees you will collect. Start a list of possible event sponsors, including businesses that have assisted your charity in the past, as well as large restaurants in your area, golf equipment shops, beer and soft drink distributors, charter fishing operations, resorts and maybe even some unusual options, like a place that offers skydiving lessons.
- Be willing to work with the sponsors and meet their requests. If they want a giant sign at the awards ceremony, figure out a way to make it happen. Try to include the sponsors’ names on all press releases.
- Get the sponsors together with the people your charity benefits to let both sides understand who is helping to make the event happen and who is reaping the rewards.
- Remember that no sponsorship level is too small or too large. A major sponsor may get more attention at the tournament or top billing on a sign or T-shirt, but a local pub that is willing to toss in a few bucks or a free dinner to be raffled off at the end of the day should be welcomed with open arms.
On Day Of
- Require registration and payment prior to the event to decrease the amount of work required on the day of the tournament. Golfers will need to be grouped into small foursomes or twosomes and the easiest way to facilitate this is by creating a chart before the event. Golfers can then check in at the event and receive their partner assignment for the day.
- Create a fun environment for golfers of all levels when you host a celebratory cocktail or luncheon party at the 18th hole. If you have live entertainment and good food, you will have all of your sponsors anxious for next year’s big tournament!
- Make sure that there are enough volunteers to direct the golfers where to go to register and find out when and where they are to tee off. Figure on at least 50 volunteers to man each tee and hole, to handle registration, help set up and handle the awards ceremony and be available for any other needs.
- Make sure that the driving range has plenty of free golf balls available for warm-ups.
- Have a schedule and stick to it as best as possible. The golfers want to help out the charity, but they mainly want to play and compete, so keep the speeches short.
- Budget for a small trophy or other kind of award for the winning golfer or team. You can have a brief awards ceremony at the end of the tournament. Use microphone time wisely to thank your supporters and reiterate your charity’s goals and mission.
- Move the dinner and awards ceremony along swiftly, but give proper recognition to the sponsors and the winners so that folks will want to be involved again in future years.
A Note About Gift Bags
- Gift bags should be handed out to golfers and all sponsors when they check in. The one thing they must include is a water bottle. This will encourage them to stay hydrated throughout the day.
- All things in your gift bags should be able to be printed with the tournament’s logo.
- Some ideas of what to put in your gift bags: golf balls, divots, tees, t-shirts, hats, umbrellas, towels, beer cozies.
- If you don’t want to purchase all of these individually, Rock Bottom Golf has you covered with our tournament packages.
If you’re holding a tournament, but not a golfer yourself, check out this post on golf etiquette to get you through the day.