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Making Your Charity Golf Tournament Memorable

Part Three: What Golfers Really Want!

By Eric Tracy (aka The Mulligan Man)

Part three of a Three Part Series.

Did you know there are 10,000 charity golf tournaments annually in Southern California? These often grass roots efforts are raising millions of dollars for wonderful causes in our community. Golf is a terrific fundraising vehicle.

This month concludes our 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 charity tournament prosper in 2003. If you are unfamiliar with him, Tracy, wearing his colorful knickers and argyle knee socks is also known as “The Mulligan Man.” In his 20-year career, he’s played, organized or served as the Master of Ceremonies at some 400 Southern California charity golf tournaments. Last year, through his sponsors, Tracy provided more than a million dollars of donated goods and services to more than 50 tournaments. Again this month, 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. Last year Southern California Golf Newspaper 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, 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.

Drawing on the popularity of an 80’s-era pop-psychology best seller, I decided to borrow an idea. For male readers the book ”What Do Women Really Want?” opened up a vista of information about the opposite sex by letting the women speak out about what’s important to them.

On these pages you’ll read the thoughts of a number of golfers on how to make your charity golf event a success in the eyes of a tournament’s main consumer – the golfers. While we might not open a “vista” of information in regards to what golfers want at charity golf tournaments, we will do this -- we’ll let the voices of those people who pay the entry fee at charity events be heard.

Because of the work I do as an entertainer and consultant for golf tournaments, I’m in contact with thousands of golfers who play in charity golf events. They’re a terrific resource for a article like this. A couple of weeks ago I put out an email query asking “What Do Golfers Really Want?” and conversely “What DON’T Golfers Want?” I received over 100 replies. Interestingly, most of the responses had a lot in common. The comments you read here are a representative sample of what many golfers wrote.


What Do Golfers Want? First thing is to have check-in as smooth as possible. Start on time.
- - - Bob Adams * Star Ford, Glendale, CA

What Golfers Want: A well-executed event.
- - - Steve Spanier * Irvine, CA

What Do Golfers Want?
- Tournaments that start on time.
- Tournaments where the festivities start soon after all players are in from the course.
- - - Tom Garnella * Hemet, CA

(Getting 144 golfers checked in and out on the golf course in a typical 2-hour check-in takes planning, lots of trained volunteers, more planning and practice. It’s difficult to accomplish, but it can be done. A well-organized check-in and timely shotgun start makes a strong and lasting impression on your golfers. It is well worth your time and attention. – The Author)


Keep the goodie bags simple, not to much junk, balls and snacks are good!
- - - Bob Adams * Star Ford, Glendale, CA

What Do Golfers Want?” A sunny day, a good course and a fast game. We also want a good group to play with plus a good "bang for the buck” tee bag.
- - - Audry Voigt * Upland, CA

What golfers don’t want is a bunch of useless junk stuffed in a bag (tees, ball marks, sun block etc.)
- - - Jim Nagle * Los Angeles, CA

(Tournaments will save a lot of time and effort avoiding filling up their golfer goodie bags with lots of little cheap stuff. Sometimes including a few logo promotional items are necessary to keep important sponsors happy, but tournaments will get the most bang for their buck … and the best use of their time … by focusing on purchasing – or acquiring a sponsor for – one or two really nice items that the golfers will appreciate. – Author)


What golfers want is a visible representative of the benefiting charity present and available.
- - - Richard Hill * Honey-Do Repair Service, La Quinta, CA

Besides a great round of golf, prizes, and food . . . I think that most of us who attend a charity event do so to support the cause represented. If you are a charity representative or a member of the organizing committee, make it a point to be sure and thank your participants…personally as much as possible. Remember, it’s the entry fee of the golfers and they money they spend, that ultimately ensures the event's success. And not just from the podium at the banquet, get out there and "press the flesh" as LBJ (the late President Lyndon Baines Johnson) used to put it.
Kim Knight
Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA

(When I perform as The Mulligan Man at tournaments, I will ask a charity/tournament representative to ride with me as I make my rounds playing one hole with every group. It’s an opportunity to say thank you one-on-one and, more often than not, they know many of the players and can personally acknowledge their presence. If the charity/tournament rep at your tournament knows golf etiquette, consider letting them drive around in a golf cart, with a manifest of the teams in hand, pressing the flesh and extending a hand of gratitude. It’s wonderful PR. However, if the rep is not golf-savvy, then have that person hang out on one hole all day and meet the golfers when they come through. -Author)


What Golfers Don't Want: Long rounds of golf.
- - - Steve Spanier * Irvine, CA

Don't overload the course so that it takes 5 ½-plus to play. Limit the number of players, and charge more if necessary.
- - - Robin Fordyce * JG Construction, Chino, CA

Golf tournaments should start on time. To help keep the tournament itself moving there should be both a front side and back side marshal. This will help insure flow and help golfers work through back-ups.
- - - Todd Twedt * Community National Bank, Escondido, CA

I recently played in a tournament that played a format called, " Elimination Scramble." When a golfer’s shot is selected, that person is not allowed to hit the next shot. This means after the first hole there will only be 3 golfers teeing off on any tee. The person who sank the putt on the previous hole, sits out the drive. This format was fun and seemed to eliminate the stacked foursomes. Slow play is one of the biggest problems at charity golf tournaments. Just a thought.
- - - Tom Mundy * Superior Thread Rolling Co., Arleta, CA

In regards to tournaments where a golfer plays his own ball or in a modified Scramble, to speed up play, once a golfer is “out of the hole,” PICK UP.
- - - Skip Padberg * Remax Golf Coast Realtors, Thousand Oaks, CA

(At Rolling Hills Country Club its part of the tournament package that they have a half-dozen marshals who act as forecaddies. Every tournament I’ve ever worked at that course is played 30-45 minutes quicker than anywhere else. Golf course marshals are usually retired golfers who marshal at golf courses for minimum wage and discounted green fees. Consider asking the golf course if they can get you in touch with a few of their marshals and, for about $50 a man, you’ll keep your tournament moving. Speed of play was one of the most often mentioned complaints - Author)


What golfers want is TO PLAY THEIR OWN BALL!!
- - - Jim Nagle * Los Angeles, CA

I don't want to play in another scramble tournament. I would always prefer to play my own ball.
Steven G
- - - John Jackson * FOX Sports, Gardena, CA

Here are my thoughts on charity tournaments, and believe me, I've played in many: I prefer playing my own ball to playing a scramble format. Many times the tournaments are at premier courses you don't get a chance to play.
- - - Greg Pedersen * Long Beach Press Telegram, Long Beach, CA

(The reality is that a tournament where every golfer played his own ball would take forever, mainly because half the field at a charity event are not regular golfers. The Scramble format helps the less skilled golfers. That’s why I prefer a modified Scramble. After the best drive is selected, from that point each golfer plays his own ball into the hole. Usually 1-best score is taken, sometime the 2-best scores. This helps the less skilled players by getting them in the middle of the fairway after the drive and lets the better players fly solo for the rest of the hole. – Author)


What Do Golfers Want? Tournaments where there are adequately frequent soft drinks and water tubs or refreshments carts throughout the day, (beer just gets some people out of control.)
- - - Tom Garnella * Hemet, CA

If it's a warm day make sure there is plenty of water on the course along with snacks midway thru play. On-course activities, make them fun, but keep things moving. When play is finished make sure you are ready to proceed into the dinner program and awards with plenty of people to handle those hungry and thirsty players.... Keep things moving!!
- - - Bob Adams * Star Ford, Glendale, CA

If you want a great tournament, run it like the Augie Munoz tournament and everything will be just fine.
- - - Antonio Negrete * San Gabriel Fire Department.

(I’ve been fortunate to be involved with the Augie Munoz tournament for the last three years. What these tournament organizers do is have lots of food and refreshments on the golf course. I mean LOTS. Lots of hot-food stops. Lots of drink buckets. They have people driving around with Jell-O Shots. They have a Margarita stop. It’s a 7½ hour party and NO ONE complains about slow play. That’s because the emphasis is on fun, not on golf. That’s the way they chose to be positioned, and for them it works wonderfully. It’s something to think about. - Author)


My only issues with charity golf tournaments is that organizers should send a volunteer score keeper with each group to keep teams honest.
- - - John Jackson * FOX Sports, Gardena, CA

Maybe the handicapping could be more accurate. What if they made everyone present their last 5 scores?
- - - Scott F. Gautier * Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP, Los Angeles, CA

I seem to play in a number of these tournaments where some foursome CLAIMS to have shot eighteen under or some such crazy number. It’s amazing the amount of cheating all in order to win ... a trophy!
- - - Ted Stulz * Covenant Care, Santa Ana, CA

(I was totally surprised that this complaint was in the top 3 most often mentioned among the golfers that responded to my inquiry. I’m not so sure golfers really care that much about winning, but it’s a shame that golfers with swings so bad they couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat come in with a score of 22-under. I must admit that at Mulligan Man tournaments I have figured out an incredible scoring system that absolutely eliminates cheating and keeps every golfer in the competition to win a team prize all day long. I’d love to share it with you, but I have to save some tricks to offer only to my clients. I would suggest trying to come up with an alternative to the typical 1st, 2nd and 3rd gross and/or net to address the problem and give your tournament a new twist. Your golfers will likely welcome the change. - Author )


Golfers don't want a drawn out awards banquet. There is nothing worse that listening to raffle ticket numbers being called one by one.
- - - Skip Padberg Remax Golf Coast Realtors, Thousand Oaks

What Golfers DON'T Want? To be gouged and a long and drawn awards banquet.
- - - Audry Voigt * Upland, CA

What golfers don’t want is confusion all day long and a banquet dinner followed by speeches, raffle drawing, etc. I can think while I eat, and I really do have other things to do on the same day as the tournament.
- - - Richard Hill * Honey-Do Repair Service, La Quinta, CA

What do golfers want? Tournaments where there are multiple people who can take checks/cash/credit cards from the silent/live auction winners so that the winners are not all crowded together in a small space dealing with just one or two volunteer "cashiers." Tournaments where there is adequate space for displaying the silent auction items so the potential bidders don't have to all be jammed together, but rather, can easily see what is being offered.
- - - Tom Garnella * Hemet, CA

(You can lose the goodwill you gained for your charity during the day if you bore them at the awards banquet at night. Get the speeches, introductions and thank yous over with quickly while your golfers are eating. Yes, they can multi-task. For most tournaments, keep the live auction items limited to say 10 items of interest to a broad variety of people. Here’s the $1,000 tip: Track your sales of raffle tickets by golfer name and draw your raffle tickets while the golfers are out on the course. You’ll save at least a ½ hour at your banquet. And my personal favorite – have an experienced MC who knows how to warm up a crowd, keep them laughing, get them bidding and get them out of there in an hour and a half! J - Author)


List the type and value of auction items and distribute to the golfers prior to the tournament. If the players knew there were golf vacations and other nice prizes, they may bring enough money to buy more expensive items.
Robin Fordyce
JG Construction, Chino, CA

(This may be difficult to accomplish prior to the tournament as oftentimes a number of live auction items are acquired at the last minute. What I like to do is to put a list of auction items in golfers carts in the morning to give them time during the day to peruse the list and get ready to bid. - Author)


Eric, I thought that you conducted a great tournament in Covina. If I had anything to add it, it would be Playmates as caddies!!!
- - - Chuck Benesch * D'Angelo Industrial Coatings, Oxnard, CA (As a married man, I have no comment. – Author)

My only strong opinion about charity golf tournaments is that that a good day in the office is never even close to as good as a bad day on the golf course....
- - - Russell Snider * CSI Leasing, Costa Mesa, CA (Amen, brother. Sounds like the kind of guy I’d want to spend a day with on the golf course. – Author)

If you’re involved in organizing a charity event, I hope you’ll take notice of the above comments. With over 10,000 events annually in Southern California alone, it will help your event to stand above the crowd if you cater to your golfers.

Great golf tournaments are not perfect, but they have one thing in common – they get better and better every year. Here’s hoping your next charity golf event is even better than the last.

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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