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Making Your Charity Golf Tournament Memorable

Part Three: Preparation and Thinking
Outside the Tee Box

By Eric Tracy (aka The Mulligan Man)
Eric@TheMulliganMan.com

Editor's Note: ATTENTION CHARITY GOLF TOURNAMENT COORDINATORS
Three part series begins this month

Every year in Southern California thousands of local charity golf tournaments raise millions of dollars for wonderful causes. Golf is a terrific fundraising vehicle.
This month we begin a three-part winter series, written by KFWB News 980 Sportscaster and golf writer Eric Tracy, offering expert advice on key elements to help your pending tournament prosper in 2003.

Tracy, wearing his colorful knickers and argyle knee socks in his persona as “The Mulligan Man” at charity golf events, has played, organized or served as the Master of Ceremonies at some 400 Southern California golf tournaments. This year, through his sponsors, Tracy has provided more than a million dollars of donated goods and services to over 50 tournaments. In these pages, Tracy shares his knowledge of charity golf tournaments to assist you in making your 2003 golf tournament a success.

Publicity and getting the word out are also essential to a tournament’s success. This year Southern California Golf Newspaper has offered promotional assistance to local charities by publishing information about more than 300 tournament listings in this section. Our monthly charity tournament listings, provided by Eric Tracy, are also published on his website, Charity Golf Online. Charity Golf Online is hosted by kfwb.com, the radio station’s award-winning website. Our tournament listings will resume in March 2003, so register your charity golf tournament on Charity Golf Online (www.CharityGolfOnline.com) to receive publicity for your event in this Section of Southern California Golf Newspaper next year.

We live in a land of plenty and today that also means plenty of competition.
As consumers, businesses are climbing all over themselves to get us to spend our dollars with them.

Well, guess what? That same fact applies to charities and their zeal to earn our donation dollars and to charity golf tournaments trying to attract golfers. Today, if you are an existing charity golf tournament did you know the golfers in your database are being invited to twice as many golf tournaments as they were just a few years ago.

What will make them choose to play in your tournament and more importantly come back next year?

Here’s my advice; MAKE IT MEMORABLE!

In this 3-part series I'm going to give you ideas that will help set your tournament apart from the estimated 5,000 Southern California charity golf tournaments a year scrambling for your golfers’ attention. As you read, don’t just consider incorporating the ideas I offer, but rather begin the process of trying to think "outside the tee box" yourself. Someone once said the definition of "insanity" is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. Thinking outside the tee box in planning your next golf event will give you different and better results and in doing so make your tournament the one golfers remember most.

ENERGIZE YOUR COMMITTEE: Committees are the lifeblood of a charity golf tournament. When was the last time your committee had new blood? Too often committees are made up of people who do the same thing year in and year out. New blood can infuse enthusiasm in a committee stuck in a rut. Seek out young people who might bring fresh thinking to your committee then be willing to listen to their ideas. Don’t be afraid to try something new or break with tradition. When a new idea comes your committee’s way, try thinking “why not?’ instead of “why.”

RETHINK CHANGING GOLF COURSES: Second guess your first instinct to change your tournament by changing golf courses. Sometimes that can be a good idea, for example if your tournament is ready to step up from a public course to a private country club, you want to appeal to a different demographic of golfer or you received poor service at last course. But avoid making a parallel move to a similar golf course just for the sake of change. It’s better to get creative with the course you already have a relationship with.

MAKE IT FUN: Having fun makes golfer happy. Happy golfers spend more money. They also hang around for your banquet to bid on your silent and live auction items. Figure out ways to make your tournament more fun. Here’s something I do at every tournament to set the mood for a fun day. I set up a sound system that’s the envy of every boom box in America playing rock and roll golf songs during registration and the morning putting contests. You may not be aware but Pro Golfers Peter Jacobson, Mark Lye and the late Payne Stewart put out an album that did parodies of rock songs except with golf lyrics. They called their band Jake Trout and the Flounders, (don’t ask me why they chose THAT name) Now, I certainly understand the need to be quiet when a guy is teeing off. But, before a golf tournament, when folks are hanging around the practice green and schmoozing, this music or any upbeat music is fun.

JUST WHAT THEY NEED, ANOTHER GOLF SHIRT: Across the board, I see the least tournament creativity in the purchasing of tee-gifts and the selection of golfer goodie bag items. Your golfing guests may be too gracious to tell you this but I’m not - they don’t want another golf shirt with a billboard-sized logo on the chest! Yes, I know, you’re sponsor paid for them, but how about giving out something other than golf shirts, golf towels, or golf hats? I know it’s easy to go for the obvious, but there are tons of other ideas out there and with the Internet, you can let your fingers do the shopping. If your budget is modest (under $20 per golfer), the top three golf gifts given (and loved) this year at charity golf tournaments were; (1) a golf-bag shaped, soft-sided beverage cooler about 15-inches high, (2) a folding beach chair in a bag, and (3) a divot tool with a switch-blade mechanism called the Divix which drew universal “oh wows” when there were handed out. However, if you’re a higher-end tournament, the #1 most sought-after, most appreciated, most remembered tee-gift is a new pair of golf shoes….not just any golf shoes, but FootJoys. Yes, they are more expensive than shirts, but when you give out FootJoys, you don’t need to give your golfers anything else.

KEEP ‘EM FED AND WET: A polite host always has enough food and drink for his guests. Yet I’m always flabbergasted that this cardinal rule is overlooked. I can promise you that golfer complaints about how the length of your tournament day will absolutely disappear if there is an ample amount of food and drink throughout the day. Whatever a tournament invests to insure its guests are fed and wet comes back multiplied at the banquet in raffle tickets and auction revenue. A prime example of this is the Augie Munoz Foundation Tournament that I’ve MC’d for a number of years at California Country Club. This tournament always sells out and few golfers ever leave after golf because they’re having too much fun. The tournament begins with a BBQ lunch before golf. On each cart there’s usually a bag of chips and salsa. There is water, Gatorade and soft drinks on every third hole. Then, a couple hours after golf begins, they set up a taco and margarita stop positioned on the course in such a way that golfers have access to it two or three times. The food they serve is just finger food and the margaritas are very light on the alcohol, but, the golfers don’t go hungry all day.

DON’T BOX YOUR LUNCH: Food and beverage mistakes begin when a tournament chooses a box lunch. The lunch is placed on the cart before the tournament begins and more often than not it’s consumed by the time the golfers reach their first hole. Now your golfer/guest is going to be on the course 5 ½ hours with no food, poorly planned beverage stops and no hors d'oeuvres after golf before the banquet starts. It’s no wonder 25% of the field leaves. They’re HUNGRY! And let me say this right here, there IS NO BOX LUNCH IN THE WORLD WORTH WHAT YOU PAY FOR IT! Period.

Budget a few more dollars for food and beverage (especially a nice on-course BBQ lunch) and I’ll guarantee you your golfers will be happier and your golf course will more likely to relax their stand against donated beverages and outside food.

GIVE YOUR BANQUET A NEW TWIST: Just this month I consulted a tournament looking to do something different. They wanted to “shake things up.” Instead of doing something drastic like a golf course move I suggested something a lot more simple; moving their dinner banquet outside and calling it a luau. I advised them go the “entire Hawaiian route.” Create invitations and entry forms with a decided Hawaiian theme. Give everyone Hawaiian shirts as a tee gift. After the tournaments when the golfers come in off the course, play Hawaiian music and have a couple of pretty ladies in grass skirts handing out leis. If you really want to make your tournament memorable get a couple of those “zany guys you know” to don the wigs, grass skirts and coconut shell tops and believe me, folks will remember your banquet. Another advantage of doing something different with your banquet is that the Food and Beverage staff at the golf course will love it. They, too, get tired of the same old thing.

Remember, think about what you can do that might be different. If you haven’t got any fresh ideas go to a great resource, your golfer database. Consider spending a couple of hours one day calling golfers and getting their input. Not only about your own tournament, but others they’ve played in. There’s a bible scripture that truly applies; seek the counsel of many. And don’t be afraid to try something new.

NEXT MONTH: FUN FORMAT TWISTS


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


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