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Making Your Charity Golf Tournament Memorable

Part Two: You Gotta Have a Gimmick

By Eric Tracy (aka The Mulligan Man)

Part Two of a Three Part Series

Again in 2003 there will be thousands of local charity golf tournaments raising millions of dollars for wonderful causes in Southern California. Golf is a terrific fundraising vehicle.

This month we present part two of 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” has 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.

In one of my favorite Broadway musicals, “Gyspy,” there’s a great number in the second act titled “Ya Gotta Have a Gimmick.” Belted out by a brassy blond burlesque queen she tells the other girls in the chorus “you gotta get a gimmick if you wanna get ahead.”
In this series “Making Your Charity Golf Tournament Memorable” the goal is to help your tournament stick out from the rest by offering a “gimmick” or two that will have your golfing guests talking about their experience at your tournament long after the final birdie drops.
Be aware that with more than 5,000 charity golf tournaments in Southern California it’s quite likely the golfer you’re inviting to play in your fundraiser will be invited to a dozen or more tournaments this year. The sad truth is that he will only play in two or three. The question becomes; why would he choose to play in your tournament and/or if he does, what will he remember that will bring him back next year?
In part two of this series the emphasis is on creative and fun tournament play. For reasons too numerous to mention – none of them good -- most charity golf tournaments do the same old thing every year. You know the scenario. You arrive, you get a goodie bag, you buys a couple of mulligans. The tournament is a typical “scramble” format with a couple ‘closest-to-the pin’ competitions, maybe a ‘longest drive’ hole. After a 6-hour round of golf, a too-loud Master of Ceremonies conducts a too-long raffle. He hands out trophies, thanks everyone for being there and you go home.
With the above in mind and the mandate to make your tournament memorable, out of my personal bag of tricks, here are some games, gimmicks and themes that can help spice up your event.

Charity golf tournaments sell extra shots—Mulligans--that are used at the golfer’s discretion on the course. They are proven revenue producers and they’re pure profit. This year, do something different.

SELL A THROW: Instead of selling two Mulligans for $20, sell one Mulligan and one throw. So anywhere on the course a golfer can choose to “throw” the ball, which is very handy for deep sand traps or nasty chip shots. Just that little twist is sure to bring a laugh – and probably a few extra dollars.
There’s also a MULLIGAN STRING: This 3-foot piece of yarn, give out with a pair of children’s craft scissors, can be used to improve a lie, sink a putt or move a putt. However, each time the string is brought into play, that length used must be cut off. When all the string is gone, it’s gone!

The “scramble” format is used predominantly in charity golf tournaments. Meaning, everyone tees off, the best shot is chosen and play progresses in this same manner until the ball is holed out. However, in my recent poll of numerous golfers who play in multiple tournaments every year they almost universally say they are tired of this. Try what’s called a modified scramble. Here, the best drive is chosen, but from that point, each golfer plays his own ball into the hole. This allows individuals to feel they’ve actually played the course, rather than ridding the bag of the one really good player in the group. This modified format is actually quicker, which helps cut down on the time on the course – which was the other universal complaint expressed by golfers.

Ever try to tee off wearing a sombrero? If your tournament is in early May, try a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Give each foursome one of these famed wide-brimmed straw hats (the one in the photo cost $20 a dozen from the Oriental Trading Company) and make it a rule that one golfer wear it on every hole. The hat rotates through the group. It’s a great change of pace and makes for great conversation. If a foursome is caught (by the Federales aka course marshals) without someone wearing the hat they must record a bogey for the hole they were caught. (BTW, we did the same thing this December with Santa hats.)
If your tournament is near the 4th of July, have a “red, white and blue’’ theme. That’s not only the color people are asked to wear, but it spills over into the format. Teams play from the red, white and blue tees, changing each hole.
My favorite theme was a tournament near Thanksgiving. The entry fee for this event, to help feed the hungry, was $200 plus a frozen turkey. That night, a homeless shelter was well fed.

This creates a real sense of team camaraderie and is something that isn’t just won by the foursome that shoots the best score over 18 holes.
Consider ‘The Pink Lady’. Each team is given one pink ball. This ball has to be used on every par 3 and par 5 hole. One golfer plays the Pink Lady from tee-to-green and has the responsibility to not lose it. Since the ball rotates between team members, this means on a par-72 course, each player in a foursome would likely play it twice. (Note: The golfers, when playing the Pink Lady, will not be involved in the team competition on that hole. He only plays The Pink Lady). The score of the Pink Lady is kept separately. The team with the lowest combined score with The Pink Lady wins. But lose the little lady, and you’re out of the running.

A twist on this idea would be a having a team member play one of the 4 pre-selected par-4 holes with only one club, from tee through holing out. Each team member plays one of the four holes and it’s his choice what club to use. The team with the lowest combined score on the one-club holes wins the prize.


MULTIPLE FLAG STICKS: On one specified green--usually a par 3--have three or four pins put on the green instead of one. It looks like a cinch birdie, because it doesn’t matter which hole you eventually land near. But looks are deceiving. Tricky pin placements can be great equalizers.

SELL A POST: On longer par 4, place a post in the middle of the fairway at the 150-marker. If a team doesn’t get a good drive, they can buy the post for $5 a player. So instead of playing from a short or poor drive, everyone hits from the 150-marker instead.

MOST GROSS: Many tournaments have ‘Net’ and ‘Gross’ winning teams. But it’s always a great laugh when you award a team, “The Most Gross” award for the HIGHEST score. Remember to be creative in what you give a team for this dubious distinction. I’ve seen everything from ping-pong paddles with the name of the award and tournament on a brass plate to cellophane wrapped buckets of range balls designed to help the team not earn the award two years in a row. A wonderful resource for this kind of award is a company and website called Bogey Pro (www.BogeyPro.com ). This Twin Cities golf novelty company is the only golf company I know with a realistic view of amateur golfers and a real sense of humor. They sell classy but funny golf hats, golf shirts, tee shirts and golf balls. The tee shirts feature detailed diagrams showing “How to Break Your Club” and “How to Use Your Footwedge.” They also sell a set of Under Achievement Awards which include trophies for the Loudest Profanity, Coldest Putter, Most Balls Lost, Longest Club Toss and Shortest Drive. Handing these out at the banquet automatically puts laughs into the festivities.

Whatever you come up with, even if it’s a variation, it’s all about thinking outside the tee box. Make it up. Make it memorable. And you’ll make more friends and money for your charity.
Next Month: What Do Golfers Really Want?

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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