Quick Navigation
The Southern California
Golf Tour
Eric Tracy reviews 26 Southern California championship golf courses.
The Southern California Golf Tour
Sponsored By:


Keeping the Customer Satisfied
Happy Golfers: The Key To Successful Charity Golf Tournaments

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.

"We 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 else.

Lesson 2: Do Everything You Can to Cut 45 Minutes off a Six-Hour Round
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 more?
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.
In 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."
Three 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).
Uncle 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 Eric@TheMulliganMan.com

Chose another article:
<<back to articles listing


Charity Golf Home Tournament Registration Tournament Search Southern Ca. Golf Tour Contact Eric Tracy The Mulligan Man  

2011 CharityGolfOnline.com


Website Managed by: theSDR.com