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The Southern California
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Eric Tracy reviews 26 Southern California championship golf courses.
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By Eric Tracy (aka The Mulligan Man)

Published in LA/OC/SD GOLF Magazine - December 2001

Editor’s note: Eric Tracy (aka The Mulligan Man) has been involved as an organizer, Master of Ceremonies, player or consultant in more than 400 tournaments in a 20-year career. There’s not too much this KFWB Sportscaster doesn’t know about charity golf tournaments and how to make them profitable and successful.

Last month Tracy began a 2-part series to help you choose a golf course for your tournament and we published a directory of public golf courses we find the most experienced and popular for hosting your charity event. This month we examine private courses. Please visit our website at www.golfinla.com to see more detailed reports on the courses we feature in our directory.

There is a definite difference in the ambiance of a charity golf tournament hosted by a private club as compared to one held at a public facility. Which is better? Should you set your inaugural charity event at a private club or move your established event to the other side of the tracks? Here are some things to consider in deciding whether to take your tournament to a private facility.

BETTER GOLF. A busy municipal golf course will have 80,000 rounds a year played on it. A busy private club will have about 30,000. Guess which course will be better shape? But lately this is changing. The new high-end daily fee courses built in the last 10 years rival their private counterparts in great golf. There are beautiful and challenging tracks like Robinson Ranch, Strawberry Farms, Eagle Glen and others that rival quality of a private course. What those public facilities cannot offer is the exclusivity of a private club. Let’s face it, for $150 bucks I can play on the ocean at Pelican Hill. However, no amount of money can get me on Newport Beach Country Club unless I know a member. That’s a big attraction for tournaments held at private facilities.

BETTER SERVICE? Don’t assume that the higher price tag that comes with a private facility necessarily means a higher level of service. I’ve found that the level of service provided to tournaments and tournament golfers at some of the higher end public facilities is better than at many private clubs. But there is a good reason for this. At public golf courses, group events and charity golf tournaments are a significant part of a facilities revenue stream. The public facilities need your business and are willing to compete for it. That is not necessarily the case at members-only country clubs. I’m not saying the service is bad; it’s just not as attentive as at high end public courses that fall all over themselves to please you.

FEWER COURSES + HIGHER DEMAND = HIGHER COST. There are about 325 golf courses in Southern California. About 40% of them are private. Not all private courses allow outside play on Mondays when private clubs are traditionally closed to the membership. It’s a classic case of low supply and high demand, which means the tariff for your tournament at a private club will likely be significantly higher than it’s public counterpart. The upper end can cost you upwards to $500 at places like Riviera or Sherwood Country Club. But there are some good deals to be had at private clubs like Braemar in Tarzana, Western Hills in Chino Hills or California Country Club in Whittier where you’ll pay under $150 per golfer while enjoying the advantages of a private club.

CAN WE MOVE ON UP? If you’ve got a successful tournament, but you feel the need to move up a notch in quality and revenue, moving to a private facility can accomplish that. There is no escaping the fact that big time tournaments that raise $50,000 and more do so at private clubs. But understand that if your entry fee goes up more than 30%, you’re going to lose some of the golfers who supported you at a lower price. You might very well replace those players you’ll lose with the draw of a private facility, but you’ll need to seriously consider all aspects of moving. Like almost everything else in our capitalistic system, there is a risk/reward ratio in going private.

IT TAKES A COMMITTEE. Before you move from a public to a private course, remember the cardinal rule of any successful charity golf tournament—and burn this into your memory--THE SUCCESS OF ANY TOURNAMENT IS DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL TO THE LENGTH AND BREADTH AND QUALITY OF THE ROLODEXES OF YOUR COMMITTEE MEMBERS. The best bet for making a move to a country club is to have country club members on your tournament committee. Big money tournaments at private clubs almost always have big, active committees and big sponsors brought in by those committee members. The golf course may be the centerpiece of your tournament, but the tournament committee is the foundation.

PLAN WAY AHEAD. If a private club is the choice you make, plan on booking the course at least a year in advance of your tournament. Even if you have a country club member on your committee, many private clubs only book a handful of outside events each year and the available dates go quickly. This may mean that while you’re turning away golfers for your upcoming full field tournament at a high end public facility, you’re also negotiating your deal for next year’s event at a private club. But that’s okay, because it gives you the opportunity to promote your move up the scale to golfers and sponsors in the glow of tournament day.

Eric Tracy is a sportscaster on KFWB NEWS 980. To find out more about The Mulligan Man visit www.TheMulliganMan.com or send email to Eric@TheMulliganMan.com

The centerpiece of your golf tournament will be the golf course. Select it wisely. Here is a short list of private facilities that do a good job with charity events. I’m breaking them down into price points. The prices ranges I mention will likely buy you a continental breakfast, golf, cart, locker room, driving range, hot lunch and dinner. Check out our website at www.golfinla.com for details about the tournament services available at these private clubs.

$100 - $150

Braemar Country Club – Tarzana:
California Country Club – Whittier
MountaintGate Country Club – Los Angeles
Porter Valley Country Club – Northridge
Western Hills Country Club – Chino Hills
Woodland Hills Country Club – Woodland Hills

$150 - $250

Coto de Caza Country Club – Coto de Caza
Dove Canyon County Club – Dove Canyon
Friendly Hills Country Club – Whittier
Hacienda Golf Club – La Habra Heights
Los Coyotes Country Club – Buena Park
Newport Beach Country Club – Newport Beach
North Ranch Country Club – Westlake Village
Oakmont Country Club – Glendale
Pacific Golf and Country Club – San Clemente
Rolling Hills Country Club – Rolling Hills
SeaCliff Country Club – Huntington Beach
Spanish Hills Country Club – Camarillo
Valencia Country Club – Valencia
Yorba Linda Country Club – Yorba Linda

$250 AND UP

El Caballero Country Club - Tarzana
Riviera Country Club – Pacific Palisades
Wilshire Country Club – Los Angeles
Sherwood Country Club – Thousand Oaks

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