WANT TO RUN A MORE SUCCESSFUL
CHARITY GOLF TOURNAMENT?
By Eric Tracy - Published in Southern California Golf Newspaper
- January 2001
Really successful charity tournaments seem to run flawlessly
because there is amazing attention to detail. Planning is
one thing, pulling it off is another. I've also learned over
the years, the tournaments that grow and return the most golfers
every year are organized by professional tournament coordinators.
There are simple reasons why; these professionals are terrifically
organized people and they pay attention to detail.
If you have a strong organizing committee, sure, you can
probably save some money by not hiring a professional. In
reality most tournaments are committee-run without outside
help. But at what cost? And I'm not talking dollars. There's
nothing worse than forming a committee and pounding all your
volunteers for up to year with all the necessary details,
then asking them to come back and do it all again. Many won't.
In lots of cases, forming or sitting on committees can cost
you your professional relationships, your time with family
and it puts a strain on your client base. Then when your tournament
is over and you begin making plans for next year, you have
to find a whole new group of volunteers - and golfers - to
make it work all over again.
Hiring a professional cuts down on committee burnout. Your
event will run smoother and you'll more than make up for the
fee you pay a professional because your golfers will want
to return next year and they will bring their friends.
If your goal is making more money for your charity you won't
do it by cutting expenses. You make more money by raising
the level of your event. Knowledge is the key to getting your
event to the next level. It's involving someone who does this
kind of event planning for a living. You don't have to kill
yourself or your friends in putting on a charity golf tournament,
no matter how worthy the cause might be. You just have work
more efficiently - and sometimes that means you don't do all
the work. I honestly believe that the best charity golf planners
pay for themselves.
Granted, you may still want to do it your way. That's fine.
But the least you can do is hear was the professional charity
golf tournament planners have to say about running a successful
event and see if they have any better answers.
For this second installment in Making Your Charity Tournament
Successful, I've found some of the best and busiest tournament
planners in the business and asked them for their keys to
making a tournament successful. Here's who they are and what
they have to say:
Founder, Corporate Golf Tournaments, Inc. in Irvine
(949) 723-4110 - Email: email@example.com
A special education teacher for nine years, she became involved
in raising money for Special Olympics every year helping Vince
Ferragamo's charity golf tournament. After years of prayer
and searching for her purpose in life she decided to start
her own business in Irvine. Her clients have included Cadillac,
Security Traders Association of Los Angeles, The Marine Institute
and Jack Nicklaus Productions where she was the promotional
coordinator for the Diner's Club Matches. Daiva's tournaments
are always fun and being the only woman in our group, we decided
to let her lead off.
Daiva's advice: "I think a charity committee has to
have at 8-12 people who aren't afraid to pick up the phone.
Sending out invitations to a golf tournament must be followed
up with phone calls. Informing them about your tournament
is one thing, but help them make the decision to play is even
"I've learned golf tournaments are very relational.
Find out where everyone has relationships. Find all the people
who you are filling their pocket all year long and then let
it be known participation in your event is important.
"And don't count women out. Many times a female business
associate may not golf, but her husband does. Use wives as
"Don't be afraid of e-mail invitations to everyone.
In that email ask the person if he's not an avid golfer to
forward the email to someone who might be interested.
"Think creatively with themes for the event . Get away
from the ordinary. Don't call it Bill's Convalescent Home
Charity Golf Classic. Call it the "1st Annual Bahamas
Bash benefiting Bill's Convalescent Home. Maybe make your
event have a 'Survivor' theme. There's so much competition
for golfers from other tournaments, make yours stand out some
"Creativity also is necessary in finding sponsorships.
If you can't find a big title sponsor, find smaller sponsors
who can fund everything from the driving range to the putting
contest. Break down all your costs. Then find sponsors for
"If you know the golf course during tournament play
is going to back up on par 3 holes, find companies who want
to meet clients, get them to sponsor a hole, then create trivia
games, offer mixed drinks, back massages and other demonstrations
that will fill the time when the hole is backed up and use
the client/sponsor as the host.
"For tournament day, sit down or talk prior to the tournament
with everyone who's involved in your event and let them know
what's expected. Write down their duties. Chart everything.
And make sure you give a copy of your tournament day plans
to the golf course so they know what's going on and what's
expected of them."
"If you are going to hire a professional coordinator,
get everything down in writing so there are no gray areas.
President, Golf on Earth in Woodland Hills
(818) 594-7244 - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Background: A former executive for McDonald's and Blockbuster
Video, he has an extensive background in marketing and promotion.
All of the events he plans are in the very "high end"
category. A former professional golfer himself, he uses his
expertise to plan events such as David L. Wolper's "Lanai
Cup, "The American Film Institute Golf Classic'' and
"The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation Golf
Steve's advice: "There are multiple goals in fundraising,
not the least of which is raising money, but also setting
the tone is critical to establishing credibility among the
supporters. That's a big goal of mine and should be yours,
too. Create an event that golfers can't possibly pass up.
"If someone calls to ask me about doing an event, I have
more questions of them than they have for me. Make sure you
are as detailed in knowing what you want to accomplish. We're
all partners and my job is to bring all the parties together
for the objective of a great event. Think of your committee
members as partners. Try to gauge who are the more influential
people involved - and most of them are golfers - and especially
who supports the charity. They'll be the key to your financing.
"To create sponsors from no where is virtually impossible.
Cold calling won't work. The people we find have been supportive
of other events that the charity does, concentrate on those
"As for a size of a committee, my formula is to have
one member per sponsorship. It reduces the responsibility
of one or two people feeling they have to do everything themselves.
"Once together we have found sponsors, the next step
is forming a timeline. A first-year event, will need at least
nine months to a year to create a memorable tournament. Once
established, you might only need six months. But it's really
never too early to start.
"When it comes to the execution of the event on tournament
day, I like to take responsibility for everything at the golf
course. My advice is work with the golf course, but understand
if something doesn't happen the way it should, it reflects
poorly on your tournament, so check and double-check. It's
really why we do it all, the signs, preparing lunch, setting
up - everything. Ultimately you are responsible for your tournament's
success. Paying attention to details is the key.''
Chairman, CEO and Director of Healthy America Campaign in
(818) 888-0084 - Email: email@example.com
Background: A former high school football coach who also
was a graduate assistant at UCLA under Dick Vermeil, DeMaio
founded Duraflex Sports fitness products and then Life-Time
Management Co., which developed seminars for major corporations.
Tony's advice: "Know the goal right off. All tournaments
are not purely for fundraising. Some are recreational events
for employees. Some are client entertainment. Some want to
increase awareness to their causes within the community. Too
many conflicts some into play when some want to golf recreationally
and the foundation wants the tournament to be fundraising.
They end up with neither. Know what you want to accomplish.
"With budgeting, we do everything on a performa-like
spread sheet. Many tournaments just wing it, a recipe for
failure. Consider sponsors for 'in kind' donations which can
reduce your costs. You may have to give up some playing spots,
but do the math. If a company can make the shirts and hats
or shoes, and it's already an expense you've budgeted for,
if you give up playing instead of case that's a good value
in exchange and it reduces the bottom line and saves you time.
"Forming a committee with good contracts makes things
much easier. Maybe someone's too busy to make the meetings,
but they have good contacts we can use. Play to your committee's
strength. The worst kind of board is four guys who don't know
anyone. Then your job is an uphill battle.
Don't 'meeting' people to death. Schedule your meetings up
front to show everyone how much time they'll have to commit.
Form subcommittees on format, sponsorships, golfer acquisition,
food and beverage, marketing and public relations, then when
you have a full committee meeting you won't waste everyone's
time discussing things like how many mulligans to give, that's
been determined by a subcommittee.
"The bottom line is to get a clear message out - we're
raising money and it's going to 'this cause'. Sometimes it
means writing another mission statement. If the people who
participate still don't know what the charity is all about,
"Look at running a tournament as a linear process. It's
Plan, Action and the Tournament, or, P.A.T. Some plan too
much and on tournament day it falls apart no matter how much
attention is paid to detail during committee meetings. The
action part is going out there and getting the plan done,
doing all that needs to be done, so it's important to get
your committees active. The tournament part, is putting it
all together, scoring the touchdown. Be prepared for the mountain
of details on tournament day. That's what we do. If you're
not going to hire someone, make sure you assign an "event
President, Independent Events & Media, Inc. in Calabasas
(818) 224-3673 (FORE) - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Background: More than 20 years experience with sports and
special event management, many of them golf related. He has
helped more than 100 charity tournament for the American Red
Cross, Childhelp USA, The Heart Fund at Cedars Sinai, the
Los Angeles Sheriff's Youth Foundation, USC School of Gerontology,
The Jewish Federation and the Robert Urich Fund for Sarcoma
Bob's advice: "A committee's strength in numbers is
only as good as each person's Rolodex, and the strong chairman
is the one who can be the peer pushing the others to make
phone calls and following up on details.
"The selection of the golf course is like picking the
star. A private club still has some cache and it allows charging
more for you entry fee. But there are plenty of other courses
that as attractive or more because they offer more schedule
flexibility and may will allow you to bring in outside products.
I'd turn away any venue that doesn't have an efficient staff
and will be there to fix things that you can't always control.
"Selling out a tournament was very difficult in this
year. I think you need to keep expectations realistic. If
a sponsor had $100,000 to spread out last year, now they'll
have $75,000. They'll still be supportive but maybe not for
as much as in year's past. I think everyone's excited about
2002. However, a lot of charity money in 2001 went toward
the events of Sept. 11, so maybe in 2002 some of it will flow
more into local charities.
"Many golfers are repeaters in charity events. When
a golfer gets maybe 15 invitations in the mail, they lay them
all out and say, 'That was a good one, that one went smooth.'
That's what golfers remember. Make sure a golfer leaves your
event feeling it's the best experience of the year. That's
what we try to accomplish at every tournament we organize
and it all comes back to the details. A special event isn't
special when people aren't organized. Don't leave anything
to chance. Remember sponsors won't come back either if things
don't run right. Serve your sponsors well. That is why our
company is invited back year-after-year, we pay incredible
attention to details and we keep the sponsor satisfied.
"Communication is also very important and when it breaks
down, it can hurt an event. An extra memo or fax can clear
up future problems before hand. If makes everyone's life easier.''
Golf Event Management Consultant for Non-Profit Organizations
(661) 799-7940 - Email: email@example.com
Background: A professional YMCA director for more than 15
years, he was involved directly in staffing eight golf tournaments
that went so well he decided to form his own company. He now
produces about 15 tournaments annually.
David's advice: "The single most important aspect of
a tournament's success is the committee, and the most important
part of the committee is the volunteers. Not only those on
the committee, but those you will call on to help you find
golfers, find donations, and find sponsors. Volunteers want
to be productive and you want them to maximize their time.
It's a tricky relationship. So try to set up an environment
that they know their time will be used to the maximum efficiency.
If all they have is an hour, make sure it isn't wasted.
"Your volunteer base comes from people who are already
involved and you see already in the community. Almost everyone
wants to put money back into the community. The problem I
see most with using volunteers is committees either expect
too much or they delegate too much. Recognize that volunteers
can also offer contacts and business relationships, utilize
"Sponsors also need to feel their gifts are properly
recognized. They understand an association with your cause
can be beneficial to make sure they get the
recognition they deserve. Their logos have to be displayed
prominently to all get the benefit of the relationship. You
have to keep these companies involved and make them feel it's
not just a relationship based on their marketing. It's important
who asks them to become involved from within your group and
who keeps them involved.
"I've also found that 90 percent of the golfers for
an event come from within. You can do general promotion and
advertising, but it's not that usual to find someone willing
to spend $250 for golf from the outside who wouldn't rather
spend less and go somewhere else. There has to be a connection
to the charity or the individual who asks so rely on networking.
There you have it. Advice from people who run charity tournaments
for a living, 15-20 events a year. Either learn from them
or turn to them. There is a reason they've all been in business
for a long time.
For more information on running your charity event, contact
Eric Tracy at firstname.lastname@example.org