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WANT TO RUN A MORE SUCCESSFUL CHARITY GOLF TOURNAMENT?

Making Your Charity Tournament Successful
Part one: Experts Offer Keys To Success, Fatal Flaws To Avoid

By Eric Tracy
Eric@TheMulliganMan.com

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

Anybody 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 know how.

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 listen..

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 - Public
City of Industry - 626-810-4653
Website: www.pacificpalmsresort.com
Email: dyoupa@pacificpalmsresort.com

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 here

Marge Chamberlain, Director of Sales and Marketing
Lost Canyons Golf Club - Public
Simi Valley - (805) 522-4653
Website: www.lostcanyonsgolf.com
Email: lostcanyonsgolf@aol.com

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 auction.
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
Website: www.braemarclub.com
Email: mel.lewis@ourclub.com


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 return.
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- Click here

Jason Wood, General Manager
Darren Bollinger, Tournament Director
Hidden Valley Golf Club - Public
Norco - (909) 737-1010
Website: www.hiddenvalleygolf.com
Email: dbollinger@hiddenvalleygolf.com

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
Website: www.talegagolfclub.com
Email: lchocheles@heritagegolfgroup.com

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- Click here

Larry Atlas, 1st Golf Professional
Robinson Ranch - Public
Santa Clarita - (661) 252-8484
Website: www.robinsonranchgolf.com
Email: latlas@robinsonranchgolf.com

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
Email: elcaballeroCC@aol.com


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 is important.
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 here

Mike van der Goes, Director of Golf
Ocean Trails Golf Club - Public
Rancho Palos Verdes - (310) 265-5525
Website: www.oceantrails.com
Email: dutchdoc@pga.com



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 fun.

Review of Eagle Glen - Click here

Larry Hamilton, Tournament Director
Eagle Glen Golf Club - Public
Corona - (909) 278-2842
Website: www.eagleglengc.com
Email: lhamilton@troongolf.com


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 erictracy@earthlink.net

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