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Organizing A Charity Golf Tournament
A Formula for Fundraising and Fun

By Eric Tracy

Published in PubLinks Magazine, January-February issue

So you've been thinking about or have been asked to serve as the chairperson for a charity golf tournament. Don't worry. Basically, here are the things you'll need to know, in advance, so you can begin planning.


For a first-year event, you'll need at least nine months to a full year to plan and execute, says Steve DiMarco, who heads Golf On Earth in Woodland Hills and is a professional tournament coordinator. "But it's never too early to start,'' he adds.
I advise considering hiring an outside agency, especially for first year events. Learn how the pros do it, then if you feel you have the organizational skills and the people to pull it off, do it yourself.
Once the committee is formed, it needs to establish a goal : Some tournaments are recreational events for employees. Some are client entertainment. Some want to increase awareness to their causes within the community. Conflicts can come into play when your event tries to be too many things. Know what you want to accomplish. Then, establish a budget, and a timeline to carry it out.


Most public courses are available any day of the week for outside events but cost you more Friday-Sunday. Private courses also cost more, but they also give you a little more exclusivity which can attract more participants.
Location is key, says Jason Wood, general manager of Hidden Valley Country Club in Norco. "Find somewhere that's centrally located to people who you're trying to attract,'' he says.
David Youpa, Director of Golf at Industry Hills, advises, "pick a course that's flexible in their rules. If you get your beverages donated, will the course let you use them?
A golf course has to have the proper facilities to host the kind of banquet you envision, this is also very important.
Finally, when you get down to a short list of potential golf courses, visit each one on a day when a tournament is being held. Does the golf course help or hinder an event with too much or two little involvement.


Most sponsors come directly from the Rolodex of committee members. Forget about cold calling. It just won't happen.
Instead of looking for one major sponsor to underwrite your entire event, break down the costs of everything, from breakfast to the driving range, from the cost of the carts to hosting the cocktail hour. Then try and find sponsors for as many of these line item expenses as you can. No amount of money a sponsor might contribute is too little. And remember, tee sponsors have very little cost, sell as many as you can, they're almost pure profit.


Filling the field for your event just doesn't happen, it takes work. Sending out pretty invitations isn't a guarantee, either. The key to success? Make sure you follow up your mailings. First send a "Save the Date" post card. A month or two later, send out your invitations, but not too far ahead of your event. 6-8 weeks is fine. Then 4 weeks before your event, follow up those invitations with phone calls. The latter is very important.
Don't be afraid to e-mail, says Daiva Rugienius, who runs her own Corporate Golf Tournament Inc., in Irvine. "Don't forget to ask the person in that email that if they can't play to they please forward it to someone that is a golfer and might want to play,'' she suggests.
Advertising and marketing, especially within your company, can be very helpful. That's where a majority of your players will come from. But get publicity anyway you can.
Radio station KFWB in Los Angeles operates Charity Golf Online on the radio station website. It's a Internet clearinghouse of charity golf tournaments. When you register your event with Charity Golf Online you get a free web page. The Internet is a great tool for marketing your tournament, use it. A number of golf periodicals, including PubLinks, publish charity tournament listings taken from Charity Golf Online and it's free. Just visit www.kfwb.com/charity.


Most golf courses and tournament professionals will tell you a modified scramble, otherwise called a 'shamble', works best and gets people around the course in 4 ½ to 5 ½ hours. Everyone in the group tees off, the best drive is selected as the spot for the next shot, but after that, everyone plays their own ball into the hole. But keep the play of your tournament under 5 ½ hours or golfers won't come back.


If everything has gone right to this point, this could be the easiest part. As Tony DiMaio, another tournament pro who heads Healthy America Campaign puts it, "attend to your "PAT". Even though Tony is a former football coach, his PAT is not Point After Touchdown. "If you PLANNED properly, put your plan in ACTION, then TOURNAMENT day everything comes off as planned and you have created a memorable event."

Any more questions?

Editor's note: It's been reported that there are some 5,000 charity golf tournaments a year in Southern California. These events raise millions of dollars for thousands of local charities. Sportscaster Eric Tracy, aka, The Mulligan Man has played, organized and/or served as the Master of Ceremonies at more than 300 charity golf tournaments. We hope his insight helps you with the rewarding work of organizing a charity event.


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