WANT TO RUN A MORE SUCCESSFUL
CHARITY GOLF TOURNAMENT?
By Eric Tracy
Every year in Southern California thousands of local charity
golf tournaments raise millions of dollars for wonderful causes.
Golf is a terrific fundraising vehicle. What are some other
common denominators of successful events? This month we begin
a three-part series offering expert advice on key elements
that will help your pending tournament prosper in 2002. The
series is written by Eric Tracy, KFWB News 980 Sportscaster
and golf writer. Tracy supplies our monthly tournament listings
which are taken from his website, Charity Golf Online, hosted
by kfwb.com, the radio station's award-winning website. Tracy,
aka The Mulligan Man at charity golf events wearing his colorful
knickers and argyle knee socks,, has played, organized or
served as the Master of Ceremonies at some 300 tournaments.
In 2001, through his sponsors, Tracy provided golf prizes
to more than 40 events that when auctioned helped raise more
than $250,000. By adding his knowledge of charity golf tournaments
to the mix, this series should be quite beneficial to you
as you make your tournament plans for 2002. -Editor
who's ever played in more than 3 charity golf tournaments
thinks they're an expert on how they are run. True, organizing
a charity golf tournament isn't brain surgery. But, filling
a field of 144 golfers, coordinating a passel of volunteers,
organizing a smooth morning registration, choosing a playing
format that avoids the dreaded 6-hour round and then capping
it off with an interesting auction and awards banquet, doesn't
just happen. It takes hard work and tournament know how. Real
This month, part one of a three part series on Making Your
Charity Tournament Successful, we draw from the real talent
and experience of __(number)____ time tested professionals.
They include course General Managers, Tournament Director
and Marketing professionals. One of them, David Youpa, the
Director of Golf at Industry Hills Golf Club, estimates he's
worked with more than 1,400 tournaments. One thing I learned
early in life, when in the company of experts, shut up and
The golf professionals participating in this article represent
a golf course cross section. They work at private country
clubs like El Caballero in Tarzana and high-end, daily fee
courses like Ocean Trails in Rancho Palos Verdes. They toil
at modestly priced pubic courses like Hidden Valley in Norco
and private courses that are very competitively priced like
Braemar in the San Fernando Valley. What all these people
have in common is a desire to make sure your event succeeds.
They have impeccable reputations and won't wine-and-dine you
until you sign the contract and then disappear until tournament
day only to turn you over to underlings green around the ears.
Many have been on the same job a long time because they help
tournaments achieve success and successful tournaments return.
Your best interest is in their best interest and anytime you
find yourself in a win-win situation, success usually follows
because nobody is getting skewered
I asked each of these professionals the same questions: "What
are some of the keys to success and what fatal flaws should
a tournament avoid?"
Review of Industry Hills
- Click here
David Youpa, Director of Golf
Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms Conference Resort
City of Industry - 626-810-4653
No matter the size of your tournament, it has to be run first
class. And it's the responsibility of the tournament chairperson
create and atmosphere of fun. Don't cut corners. If you do,
it's hard to get people to come back. It's also not how much
you spend on your golfers but rather are they being entertained
all day long. And the fun has to start with check-in. Good
greeters can make people feel welcome in the parking lot.
Tournament day has to be active from start to finish. Planning
is great, but it's executing that plan that creates the success.
Conversely, waiting until the last minute to assign specfic
details is always fatal flaw. Waiting too long to get people
signed up kills the profit and the profit is what goes to
the charity and why you are working so hard. If you want full-field
for your tournament, there has to be series of notices, not
just one mailing. Then in the last month, make phone calls
to remind golfers of your event.
Review of Lost Canyons - Click
Marge Chamberlain, Director of Sales and Marketing
Lost Canyons Golf Club - Public
Simi Valley - (805) 522-4653
The most important thing a golf course can provide is ambiance
and benefits. There's a difference between features and benefits.
A feature is a driving range, club house, the course itself
and the course designer. The benefit is how all that fits
into that experience. Limit your field. Everyone wants a sell
out, but it the long run, slow play and a long day keep people
from coming back. It's like inviting 10 guests to your house
and 14 show. Sure people can sit closer together on the couch,
but no one is really comfortable.
Don't have too many raffle items or too many on your silent
auction. Too many items limits competition for those items,
you only have so many people in the room. Less items means
more competition for them and it's competition that drives
an item's value. This applies to both the silent and live
Watch how much alcohol you allow. When you put it out in barrels
all over the course people can drink too much. It's better
to have a service cart traveling the course. Everyone will
be serviced but it creates a little control.
Mel Lewis, Tournament Director
Braemar Country Club - Private
Tarzana - (818) 345-6520
Tournaments that grow, are very conscious of giving all their
players something to take away - a good tee prize bag. If
a player paid a $250 entry fee they should walk with something
that isn't rubbish. Quality tee prizes are a big reason people
Be cautious about hiring a professional tournament coordinators.
There are some very good ones out there, however, some charge
as much as $10,000 and in the end do very little for that
money. If you're going to hire a professional coordinator,
be clear and make sure you get in writing exactly what they
will and won't provide. Avoid celebrity tournaments and people
who charge to get celebrities for you. 30 percent of the celebrities
promised don't show up tournament day and 30 percent that
do are only celebrities in their own mind. Before you consider
having a celebrity tournament, call 10 people who played in
your last celebrity event. Ask them is the deciding reason
they played in your event was to play with a celebrity. Very
few will tell you that. Besides, the charity more often than
not has to pay for the freeloader. Wouldn't you rather turn
that money over to your cause?
Review of Hidden Valley-
Jason Wood, General Manager
Darren Bollinger, Tournament Director
Hidden Valley Golf Club - Public
Norco - (909) 737-1010
The Tournament Chairman needs a good committee that spreads
out the workload. Make sure to plan in advance to get flyers
and press releases to local newspapers and magazines weeks
before your event. Put flyers up everywhere you can.
Many times tournaments get verbal commitments from golfers
who don't pay their entry fee until the day they play. For
cash flow you need to get people to commit. Offer an early
bird special and discount early sign-ups. Remember, sponsorships
are pure profit. Not just the title sponsor but smaller sponsors
who purchase tee-signs or underwrite your continental breakfast
or cocktail hour. Make a note as to the time of the year of
your tournament. Will it get dark before everyone finishes
their round? Does the course have frost in the mornings? If
you don't have someone experienced at the course or on your
committee who asks all the appropriate questions, you could
end up with some surprises tournament day you weren't planning
on. Your golf course Tournament Director is there to help.
Use the service provided.
Mountaingate Country Club
Price Range: $150 - $200 per person including food and beverage
Available Monday's only
Scott Randall, Tournament Director
Mountaingate Country Club - Private
Los Angeles - (310) 476-6215
Corporate sponsors make their budgets a year in advance.
Have you planned that far ahead for your tournament? Try to
factor everything into your entry fee. Golfers had forking
out cash for on-course contests. Build these revenue producers
into your entry fee. Even if the golfer is shelling out for
an increased entry fee what he would have spent in on the
course contests, when it's built in, it feels free. The more
pre-tournament prizes and the more food, the happier they
your guests are.
The tournaments with the most problems are those with too
few trying to do too much. A major disaster is a real long
round of golf. People are prepared to spend a long time with
you, but waiting on every shot in a 6-hour round ruins everything.
Review of Talega- Click here
Leslie Chocheles, Tournament Marketing
Talega Golf Course - Public
San Clemente - (949) 369-6226
The most important thing is to have a complete committee
that shares in planning and executing the event. Make sure
there are enough people to delegate responsibility - getting
donations for raffle prizes and silent auctions, finding sponsors,
sending invitations, acting as a go-between with the course.
Be sensitive about the price of your entry fee. Entry fees
that are too high work against you. Fill your field by making
just a minimal profit from the entry fees. The focus has to
be on getting people to the course so they end up spending
more money on mulligans, the raffle, bidding on auction items,
etc. Encourage the people to invite spouses or non-golfing
friends to the banquet following the golf, because that gets
more people in the room to bid on auction items. Auctions
are exciting when there is competition in the bidding. Figure
out ways to fill your room and you'll fill your cash box.
Review of Robinson Ranch-
Larry Atlas, 1st Golf Professional
Robinson Ranch - Public
Santa Clarita - (661) 252-8484
The planning stage is important, but the execution makes
it special. Putting a happy face on everyone, from the Tournament
Chairman to the volunteers, goes a long way. A smile is the
gift that keeps on giving.
Get your golf course in on the planning, that way if questions
arise, you have the resources of an expert to help you out.
Last-minute changes leave a black mark on an event. Someone
puts an idea in somebody's then they try to implement it on
the spot. Remember, good tournaments are planned a year in
advance, don't abandon the plan on a whim.
Then there's the golf format issue, scramble vs. best ball.
Remember, a scramble is best for a team thing. Are most of
your golfers foursomes? Scrambles keep the team together.
El Caballero Country Club
Tom Bernsen, General Manager
El Caballero Country Club - Private
Tarzana - (818) 345-2770
All successful tournaments have an agenda on how to fill the
field. Does yours?
If golf is the first priority pick a course where that is
the case. Second is the food, but it's the total package that
Advertising is very important. Is there a newsletter where
you work? Put in an ad about your tournament or submit a story
for the newsletter about your event. Sell tee signs, they
are almost pure profit. Get the course Tournament Director
to come to your meeting to offer advice to struggling areas.
What kills a tournament is a weak committee, obligations that
don't get fulfilled. Don't fill your committee with bodies,
fill it with people who really want to contribute.
Review of Ocean Trails - Click
Mike van der Goes, Director of Golf
Ocean Trails Golf Club - Public
Rancho Palos Verdes - (310) 265-5525
Get your sponsors involved. Let them in a decisions so they
feel like they are contributing. They more they get involved,
the more foursomes they'll fill.
Pace of play is important to a tournament. The longer the
golf takes the more people will leave after golf and not stay
for the banquet.
Some tournaments put too much emphasis on the prizes for the
winning groups. It's a sad fact but the better the prize,
the more teams score with their eraser. Don't buy expensive
trophies nobody wants, give cash or Pro Shop script. People
will quit taking the golf so seriously and will have more
Review of Eagle Glen - Click
Larry Hamilton, Tournament Director
Eagle Glen Golf Club - Public
Corona - (909) 278-2842
It's not just getting people on your golf committee, its getting
effective people involved. Don't do it all by yourself, but
don't put people on your committee who won't do anything.
A good leader is everything, because enthusiasm starts from
the top. They've got to believe in the product and in the
tournament is the product.
I think innovation is the very important. We had a tournament
once where the entry fee cash and a 20-pound turkey. We ended
up giving 140 turkeys, plus $15,000, to a homeless shelter
the next day. People are still talking about that one.
When things fall apart, it's because tournaments try to do
too much. One tournament had food on every hole. A piece of
cake on No. 1, Pudding on No. 2, a Tequila shot on No. 3.
The round took 7½ hours. And when it was over, no one
stayed for the banquet.
Make sure everyone knows the rules before hand. A rule sheet
isn't enough. Announce the rules. Check the details. I remember
one tournament where they said they were using the blue tees,
but this course didn't have blue tees. It had black, gold
and jade. The confusion lasted all day.
For more information on running your charity event, contact
Eric Tracy at firstname.lastname@example.org