How To Plan A Golf Tournament

Determine the objective of your golf tournament.  Is it a charitable event?  A private event for your membership?  A thank-you event for your employees?

Determine how many golfers you think will participate in your event. Who is your target audience? Keep in mind that while most 18-hole courses can handle up to 144 golfers (36 groups of 4), a slightly smaller number might be easier to handle.

Determine a budget for the event.   Keep in mind the following items which may or may not be part of your event:  greens fees, golf carts, printing, advertising,  prizes and giveaways,  insurance, food and beverages, entertainment, photography, driving range fees. Allow extra money for miscellaneous expenses.

Decide how you will pay for the event.  Will there be one major sponsor?  Hole sponsors?  Raffles? Auction items? Hole-in-One contests?  Will you sell mulligans?

Based on your budget, choose a venue and a date for your tournament.  You may need to do this up to a year in advance to get a specific date.  Most private clubs give priority to their own events and most will not allow weekend scheduling.  Will you need to pay an upfront fee to hold the venue?

Decide how much the entry fee will need to be. How much will you need to get from sponsors to cover all your costs?

Decide on a format for your event.  If your target audience includes players of different abilities you may want to do a scramble.  If you expect only experienced golfers you may want to do stroke or match play.  Will you use a handicap system?  Have a plan in place for those without USGA handicaps.

Meet with the staff of your venue to communicate your needs for the golf tournament.  Do you need food and beverage service?  A dining room for an awards ceremony? For lunch or breakfast?  Does the venue allow outside food and beverage? Do it have enough carts to accommodate your group, including a few extra for the tournament management team use?  Will you have the use of the driving range beforehand?

You may want to form committees to handle different aspects of the event planning.  You will need people to help with team pairings, scorecards and rules, prizes and giveaways, food and beverage services, golf course marking, scoring, social events, awards ceremony, registration, advertising and signage, speakers, carts, photography.  Make sure you have plenty of help.

Come up with a plan for bad weather.  Will you have an alternate date?  How many hours will you be able to delay play until you will need to cancel?  Will there be refunds?

Advertise the event to your target audience.  You may want to do this by advertising in social media or by sending out email blasts. You could advertise in the newspaper or by sending out invitations.  Be sure to include date, time, location, cost, deadline, format, sponsors, contact phone numbers, social activities) in all the advertising. Include a registration form and a mailing  (or emailing ) address or fax number for it to be returned to you.  You should begin advertising 3 months in advance.   Most metropolitan newspapers print a “Golf Season” insert in early spring.  Try to have your event scheduled in time for inclusion in this insert.

Order signage for your event.  You will want to be sure that your sponsors’ names are featured prominently throughout your event, perhaps at the scoreboard and tee boxes and carts, as well as the pro shop and in any brochures used for advertising or during the event itself.  Be sure to follow company guidelines on the use of your sponsors’ logos. It’s best to have each company approve the way you plan to use their logos. Allow several weeks for this step, as the proper art for enlarging is not usually provided the first time you ask for it.  Ask for vector art (.ai or .cdr) from your sponsors from the start.

Do you plan to have a photographer? If you want one to take pictures of teams, make arrangements several months in advance.

Several weeks before your event you will want to send out an information packet to your golfers. Be sure to include all relevant information (date, time, location and directions,  format, sponsors, contact phone numbers, course rules on dress and golf shoes, social activities and times). If golfers will have access to a driving range and golf shop, include that information and the hours available.

Food and beverage service can include an awards dinner, lunch, breakfast before the event, beverage service on the course, and bar service after the event.  Will your final dinner be a buffet or a sit-down meal? Will you need a speakers podium and microphone? Will you need a head table to accommodate special guests? What kind of seating arrangements will there be for the final meal?  Is bar service to be included with the evening meal?  If not, what methods of payment will be accepted?  If you experience a rain delay, how will that affect the timing of the meals?  A variety of snacks and water should be readily available at various points on and around the course.  Check to see if outside food can be brought in.

Order your golf prizes and giveaways from a company like GGIWW.com. At most golf tournaments players are given gift bags that include tees, ball markers, divot tools, golf shirts, caps or any number of gift ideas.  Awards given at the final ceremony can include trophies and plaques, golf equipment, as well as barware and other ideas.  Ask the sponsors to help present the awards for additional recognition.

Order special color golf shirts for the golf staff to wear throughout the event so golfers can easily recognize them. These can also be ordered through GGIWW.com

Set up a registration table in a prominent location near the clubhouse entrance.  You will want to have pairing sheets, golf cart assignments, tee times, name tags, player rosters (alphabetized), rules and format sheets. If it is a windy day, bring paperweights.  The goody bag of giveaways is usually at this table as well.

Pre-equip the golf cart fleet with pencils and scorecards, tees, course maps.  Carts and workers should be available for first aid, beverage service, message delivery, rules interpretation and monitoring of any contests.

Assign people to be the official scorers. They will be responsible for the final tally of individual scores. Each team should sign their scorecards and turn them in to the official scorer for final tallies.  In addition to regular scoring you may have winners for longest drive or putt, fewest total putts, closest to the pin, or many other ideas.  All scores should be posted in an easily accessible area for all to see.

After the event you may want to remind all the players what a great time they had by sending them a framed team picture or event golf towel.  You will also want to send gifts of appreciation to all your helpers on the big day. GGIWW.com can help with this as well.

Ask for feedback at the end of the event from all the participating golfers through a questionnaire to ensure that next year’s event is even better. Do this at the end of the day or when you send your thank you gifts.