WANT TO RUN A MORE SUCCESSFUL
CHARITY GOLF TOURNAMENT?
By Eric Tracy
Published in LA/OC/SD GOLF Magazine - December 2001
Editor's note: There are more than 5,000 charity golf
tournaments a year in Southern California. This year, in cooperation
with Charity Golf Online, we helped to publicize dozens of
these tournaments on this page. During the winter months,
tournament play slows down but not the planning for next year's
events. This month, we begin a 3-part series by KFWB Radio
Sportscaster Eric Tracy, aka, The Mulligan Man. Tracy has
played, organized and/or served as the Master of Ceremonies
at more than 300 charity golf tournaments. It is our hope
Tracy's insight will help your tournament become more successful--which
is why you're doing all that hard work in the first place.
expect a sell-out."
That's usually the answer I get when I ask how many golfers
a charity tournament coordinator expects for his or her event.
That's a great positive attitude. But here's the stark reality.
Of the nearly 50 tournaments I been apart of this year, only
five actually sold out. Another 60 percent of them fielded
fewer than 100 golfers. True, there's more competition for
your charity tournament dollar and our economy took a hit
this year. But I contend if you make your event a truly fun
and unique experience from check-in to check out, each golfer
comes back next year bringing his friends and your tournament
grows by reputation.
Let's make a short check list: A charity golf event has three
integral parts -- registration, the golf itself and the awards
banquet. Let me give you some quick some tips to help you
succeed at each step as well as some perilous traps that you
have to avoid.
Lesson 1: Make A
Good First Impression:
When a golfer arrives for check-in, how prepared are you?
If he or she has to stand in line for 20 minutes, if their
clubs are taken by volunteers and now can't be found preventing
driving range warming up, if your event is scheduled for an
11am shotgun start and now it's 11:45, guess what? Your guest
begins the day in bad mood.
If you set aside two hours for registration, do the numbers
and prepare. Remember, you'll be greeting and checking in
144 golfers in 120 minutes - and it's likely half of your
field will show up just 45 minutes before your scheduled start-so
preparation is the key. If your field is 100 golfers, have
two check-in tables dividing names alphabetically. If there
are more than 120 golfers, split it by three.
Also, visit the course well beforehand and take a dry run.
How long will it take to get your golfers' clubs out of the
car, tagged and delivered to his assigned cart? If there is
a great distance to cover, or if you are short of volunteers,
suggest the golfer take a club or two with him at check in
so he can go directly to the driving range.
And as for the your volunteers, make sure they know there
duties BEFORE the morning of your tournament. The tournament
coordinator either meets with them or writes their duties
on a 3 x 5 card that is mailed to each person ahead of time.
There's no time to teach the volunteer his or her role at
check-in because too much is happening too quickly.
If all these things are accomplished, you'll start on time.
If you don't, the negative affect has a domino effect on everything
2: Do Everything You Can to Cut 45 Minutes off a Six-Hour
How long does it take to play golf? At a country club, the
rounds are in the four-hour range. At a busy public course,
expect five hours. So why is it accepted practice that play
at most charity golf tournaments drags on for six hours or
It's no wonder so many leave the course, drive the golf cart
right to their cars, throw their clubs in the trunk and skip
the banquet to go home. They're frustrated.
Cut down the time it takes everyone to play, and you not only
increase banquet attendance, but everyone's in a better mood.
I don't know why, but that 45 minutes changes impatient grumblers
into happy spenders.
To beat the clock, first, look at the course. Those with short
par 5s and long par 3s are time killers. There's always one
golfer in the group who thinks he can reach the green in two
on a par 5, so the team waits in the fairway until the green
clears. That holds up the group on the tee. The solution is
to make all par 5s true 3 shot-holes by moving the tee boxes
all the way back. Now you'll have three groups on the hole
at all times. It's just the opposite on par 3s-move the tees
forward to eliminate the problem of everyone missing the green
on the tee shot.
a scramble format where everyone in the group hits from the
best shot location, there's a misconception that play will
automatically go faster. It doesn't because two things work
against you. You still have two carts traveling to four balls,
picking them up, then meeting at the best shot to discuss
distance, wind direction, club selection, pin placement.,
etc. Eliminate the "meeting'' by playing a modified scramble.
Everyone meets at the landing point of the best drive--let's
face it, the greatest margin of error is off the tee so this
really helps the high-handicapper--but from there, everyone
plays their own ball until you meet on the green and putt
out. Scoring is done on either one or two best balls, and
golfers are instructed to "pick up" if they're obviously
not one of the best scores.
Finally, on-course skills contests that give golfers a chance
to win cash or prizes are good, but not if they slow everything
down again. Trying to sell "Beat-the-Pro" chances
or "Hit-it-in-the-Circle" or "50-50" bets
also embarrasses golfers who don't think they are good or
rich enough to hit their hip four times a round.
Here's the math; if you sell $5 chances four times in a 100-golfer
field, the most you'd raise is an extra $2,000. However, you'll
never get more than 50 percent of your field to pony-up. Why
not just raise your green fees $10, eliminate the nickel-and-diming
and speed everything up?
Lesson 3: The Lasting Impression:
The awards banquet is where the "profit" in golf
tournaments is made via raffles and auctions. Blow this and
you've worked hard for nothing.
Know right off that 30 percent of your field never come to
the banquet and take their wallets home. Ask them why they
leave and the answer is universal: "The banquets are
long and boring."
things will fix this: Planning, having somebody who knows
what they are doing at the podium and a final gesture that
make your golfer a hero when they come home.
For a banquet program, less is more. Avoid the urge to have
a have a number of speakers representing the title sponsor,
the charity and/or the volunteers. It may sound like a good
idea but it's not unless they really have something to say
and can say it quickly and well. Avoid showing video or slide
presentations unless your have the proper equipment and the
audio and visual conditions are right in the room it won't
seen or heard by half your audience. Whatever you feel you
have to do politically, do it before dinner is served. That
way all that's left after dinner is the fun stuff, the raffle,
the auction, the awards. (Actually, you can cut 45 minutes
off your program by conducting your raffle during tournament
play, but that's a subject for another article).
Charley may be funny at parties or Bob on your committee may
not be afraid of the microphone but does that make them a
good Master of Ceremonies? A good MC is someone who can control
the pace, interact with the crowd and has an internal clock
that sets off an alarm when things get too long. It is a skill,
so get someone who knows how this works. Don't be afraid to
pay for these services or decide they aren't worth budgeting
for. There is a reason these people are professionals. They
will pay for themselves in spades. There are radio and TV
personalities who love golf and know how to entertain a golf
crowd. It is easier than you think to find someone who will
support your cause and provided an added plus at your banquet.
Finally, send your golfers home with something they won't
forget. Remember, even under perfect conditions, your golfer
has spent about eight hours with you. He may even have gotten
up early and went into work for a couple of hours. He's tired
and he's been away from home a long time. Acknowledge that
fact in your final announcement and for less than $100 do
something memorable. Have your MC thank him, his job and his
family for loaning him to you for the day. Then have a basket
red roses near the exit and tell him to take one home on the
way out and give it to the significant person in their life
to thank them and let them know he was thinking of them. What
do you think will happen next year when he gets his "Save-the-Date"
postcard and there's a red rose on it?
Next month: Picking a golf course for your tournament. There's
more to consider than just how much it costs.
Eric Tracy can be reached through his website at www.TheMulliganMan.com
or by email at