Hosting a charity golf tournament is a great way to raise funds for a cause, build brand awareness and establish relationships with sponsors and other people involved in the event.
If it’s your first time to organize such an event, you might find it overwhelming, especially if you don’t have enough resources — manpower, time and money — to make your plans a reality.
To help make organizing more manageable for you, we’ve put together this ultimate guide that will help you prepare for a successful charity golf tournament.
This article covers the following:
- How to assign committee roles for your golf tournament
- How to win sponsors for your golf tournament
- How to effectively promote your charity golf tournament
- How to choose the best golf tournament format
Let’s get started:
I. How to Assign Committee Roles
Planning starts with forming committees and assigning the right roles to each committee member. This will ensure that each of them will contribute to the success of the event. When assigning committee roles, make sure that you base your decisions on each member’s strengths and areas of expertise.
For example, a person who’s good in marketing should be assigned in the promotion of the event, not on the registration or other roles. Therefore, it’s quite critical to have volunteers with differing strengths and capabilities. If they’re good at what were assigned to them, expect them to enjoy what they do and fulfill their responsibilities as committee members.
The marketing committee promotes the event. They create and manage all marketing outlets. They regularly update your social media accounts, reach out to potential golfers through calls or emails, and write press releases.
During the event, they have media coverage throughout. After the event, they email all participants, sponsors and everyone involved in the event to thank them for supporting their cause. This thank-you email could include a link to a survey form asking for their feedback about the event. This would be useful to the organizers of the same event, and this is important if you hold a golf tournament every year.
Day-of-Event Volunteer Coordinator
Depending on the size of the event, a dozen volunteers are needed to manage the registration table, help with contests, help the photographer, place all the markers in the correct spots, load and unload supplies and set up and collect equipment.
Volunteer coordinators also ensure that all of the food and beverages, entertainment and prizes are in place on the day of the event.
A sponsor coordinator helps solicit corporate sponsorships and make sure that they are given the proper recognition throughout the event. They closely coordinate with the sponsors to make sure that their logos and the necessary information are placed on event merchandise. They ensure that all food donations and cash donations are in place. And finally, they send thank-you letters to the sponsors after the event.
In general, their main duty is to make the sponsors happy by making sure that they are well-informed of the relevant activities, that their logos appear where they expected them to and that the organizer keeps in touch after the event.
Those in-charge of the registration manage all of the online, in-person and mail-in sign-ups. They also organize volunteers and assign them duties for the day of the event.
During the day of the event, they will ensure that every player is checked in and all their information is correct and completed — player’s name, company affiliation, payment and gear. They will also communicate with the golf course on player count and details.
The golf committee will decide on the format of the tournament and the scoring.
They will also decide on the contests and raffles, pairings and groupings of the players and will construct the timeline of events — from the beginning to the end — so attendees know what to expect during the tournament.
The design committee will ensure that all the design materials are correct and ordered. They will order the signs, place the merchandise orders, construct the prizes and ensure that the delivery of all signs and marketing materials are correct.
Delegating committee roles has a critical role in the success of your charity golf tournament, so this step is a significant part of the planning stage.
After assigning the right committee roles to each volunteer, the next concern to tackle is, “How do you get people to sponsor your golf tournament?” This leads us to the next part:
II. How to Win Sponsors for Your Golf Tournament
Inviting golfers to join the cause is an essential part of your planning stage. But equally important is recruiting sponsors. In any charity event, recruiting sponsors plays a huge role in the event’s success. While some revenue is generated from registration, the majority of funds for charity events comes from outside businesses and organizations.
What are the Different Tournament Sponsorships?
In addition to the value that sponsors add to your event, they also provide marketing and promotional benefits. Most companies, especially larger businesses, have a budget to do this every year so the earlier you reach out, the more opportunities you’ll have to get creative about who you reach out to.
The two most helpful sponsorships are the Title Sponsor and Presenting Sponsor.
- Title Sponsor. The biggest sponsor of the event who pays enough money to have their name on the event. This sponsors name goes on all signage and banners and is featured on all social media platforms. They also get numerous playing spots, recognition on tee prizes, holes, etc.
- Presenting Sponsor. The names of the presenting sponsors appear on brochures and advertisements, but is shown much smaller than the Title Sponsor.
- Contest Sponsor. Donates the prizes for all raffles and contests. Their name is listed on all publicity material and they are provided with some special thanks during the awards banquet as their prizes are shown off.
- Meal Sponsor. Donates money or specific food items to offset the cost of the food and beverages given to golfers, volunteers, sponsors and attendees throughout the day. This is also a great opportunity for local restaurants and breweries to get involved and have vendors around the course offering samples of their products.
- Hole Sponsor. The Hole Sponsor is the least expensive sponsorship option and pays a certain amount to be the sponsor of a single hole on the golf course. Their company names appear next to the hole for players and fans to see.
Where do I Start Looking for Sponsors?
If your tournament benefits a charity, reaching out to the charity and using their network is a great way to seek out smaller sponsorships and donations from their already developed relationships and connections. Reaching out to those that support their cause and receiving any sort of donation is a huge help.
Reaching out to your own network of people and local businesses is a great place to look for larger sponsors. Startup companies are looking to get their name out to the public so sponsoring an event is a great opportunity for them to start becoming more recognized.
Local restaurants and breweries are great for meal sponsors if they are willing to donate lunch or set up the course with food and drink samples. If there are multiple food and beverage vendors throughout the course, you can sell tickets at registration as an “All You Can Eat” feature.
Lawyers, car dealerships, spas, gyms, insurance offices, relators, restaurants, breweries, and other local businesses are great opportunities for sponsorships, donations and even raffle items.
How Can I Get Sponsors to Say Yes?
Looking and especially reaching out to potential sponsors can be extremely stressful when you don’t get the answers you hoped as quickly as planned. Be creative and target places that you personally enjoy because local businesses are more inclined to support their loyal customers.
One key way to get a “yes” is to think of fun ways to reach out to potential sponsors. The first contact is always most important so you will want it to be a face-to-face personal approach rather than sending a generic email.
Always go prepared with knowing what you want to say and bring a flyer about your charity event to leave with the potential sponsor after you are finished talking. This will help you stand out from other organizations that are requesting sponsorships.
Remember that anything that adds value to your event is worth it, so the first business you reach out to might not be your biggest sponsor. Give yourself time to accomplish your sponsorship goals and make sure to always follow up with a thank you.
III. How to Choose the Best Golf Tournament Format
The very first question you’ll have to answer when planning a golf event is what type of format you want your tournament to be. The format you choose can make or break your charity event but these 12 most popular golf tournament formats will help you with new ideas when planning your next tournament.
Talk with people from your organizing committee for further recommendations about popular formats in your area for the audience you are hosting.
So here are 12 golf tournament formats to choose from as you prepare for your next big event:
The Scramble is the most common golf tournament format used with fundraising and business-related golf events. It is usually played with teams of four, but can be played with more or less players.
When using the traditional four-person team, Scramble allows your team to select the best shot in each individual series of hits, and then the entire foursome will take their next shot from that location.
You can drop your ball within club length from where the chosen ball lies, but no closer to the hole. The scramble eliminates the time wasted locating balls that veered off course and helps each team get their best possible score.
The Best Ball format is most popular among more advanced golfers. Each player plays his or her own ball for each hole, but at the end of each hole, the lowest score among the four players is counted toward the teams overall score. Best Ball also allows you to count two balls on each hole, which keeps all players involved.
The Bingo-Bango is the most popular format for golf associates and league tournaments. All shots are taken in order of who is furthest from the pin.
Players are rewarded for three things on each hole: the player in the group to get onto the green receives 1 point, the closest player to the pin once all group members are on the green receives 1 point and the first player to hit the ball in the cup receives 1 point.
Golf Marathon (Golf-a-Thon)
The Golf Marathon has become a very popular idea for charity golf events. Golfers play 100 holes of golf and the key is for each player to collect a certain amount of donations for your cause. Organizations ask golfers to contact friends, colleagues and family members for donations. If golfers raise a certain amount, they might be able to play for free.
All golfers begin the round with a set number of strokes and then play the golf course until they run out of strokes.
The golfer who makes it farthest with his or her number of strokes is the winner and that is where their flag is placed to indicate where their final shot was played. This is a popular format used in league play and it is a staple of women’s golf.
The Alternative Shot uses a two-person team format where the team alternates who hits each shot while playing the same ball. The team also alternates who tees off on each hole.
The Modified Stableford format can be played by individuals or as a team. The score on each hole is worth a certain amount of points with the idea being to receive the highest score. Points are won or lost based on this system:
- Double eagle = 8 points
- Eagle = 5 points
- Birdie = 2 points
- Par = 0 points
- Bogey = -1 point
- Double bogey or worse = -3 points
The Chapman Foursome merges several formats into one, which has 2-person teams competing against one another. Both golfers tee off and then switch balls for their second shot. They then select the one best ball after their second shots and continue to play alternative shots until the ball ends up in the hole.
The Greensomes format is also known as Modified Pinehurst or Scotch Foursomes. It is similar to the Chapman Foursome format where there are 2-person teams, except there is no switching of the balls after the teammates’ drives. Both golfers on the team hit drives, the best of the two drives is selected and then they alternate shots from that point into the hole.
Devil Ball/Money Ball/Yellow Ball
This particular golf format is known by many different names including Devil Ball, Money Ball and Yellow Ball. When using this format, the responsibility is put on one team member per hole, who must contribute his or her score to the team score.
Two scores are taken into account to form the team score – the score of the designated golfer playing the hole and the lowest scoring team members score. The designated golfer rotates from hole to hole to give each member an equal chance to take the responsibility for the score. This is typically played with 4-person teams.
A Quota Tournament is also known as “Chicago” where golfers earn points based on their plays at each hole. The objective is to receive enough points to beat the pre-set goal. Golfers earn points on each hole through bogeys, pars, birdies and eagles; bogeys add 1 point, pars add 2 points, birdies add 4 points and eagles add 8 points.
When a running a Quota Tournament, the pre-set score will vary – each golfer can either begin with points and try to beat 36, or handicap is subtracted from 36 and the golfer begins at zero. The golfer who meets and exceeds his or her quota by the largest amount is the winner.
The Maxwell format is played with 5 team members. At the end of each hole, the worst score is thrown out so the team score is just a total of the other four scores in relation to par.
As what you’ve seen, some formats are more fun and some are more laid back, while others are more formal and serious. Choose the format you know all participants will enjoy!
Choosing the right format is a huge factor in the success of your tournament. If done right, you’re sure to create a meaningful experience for the participants and the event sponsors.
III. How to Effectively Promote Your Golf Tournament
Planning for and finalizing all the details of your charity golf tournament require hard work and focus. You must have had a lot of brainstorming sessions with those who are involved in organizing the event before you finally completed the plans and all the moving parts.
So now, after all those grueling days of preparation comes the next challenge, which is how to ensure a high turnout in your well-planned charity golf tournament.
To make this happen, you need a well-thought-out marketing strategy targeted towards your prospective golfers and sponsors.
Here are some proven ways to drive results in your marketing efforts:
#1. Be clear with your goals
Set clear goals. Your goals could be qualitative or quantitative. For example, as a fundraising activity, how much money would you like to raise? And what do you plan to do with the funds that you’d be able to raise?
Your prospective sponsors and the players themselves would want to know where the proceeds of the golf outing would go, so make sure this is clear from day one of the planning stage.
It’s important that the goals are shared with everyone involved in organizing the event. All committee members and of course, the marketing team, need to have clarity on what you are trying to achieve with the charity event.
#2. Make the cause the center of your marketing efforts
As a marketer, you know that the thought of playing golf isn’t the one that will make your target golfers join your event. They can probably play golf any time they want or by joining other events, so the chance to play golf isn’t the selling point.
Golf lovers and prospective sponsors would be more enthusiastic to join your event knowing that by simply playing or becoming a sponsor, they are able to contribute something significant to society.
So instead of saying, “Join us and enjoy a memorable and fun golf tournament,” tell them the cause. For example, the Cancer Support Community Greater Philadelphia uses this tagline in their web page for their upcoming golf outing:
The red highlight on their statement appeals to the emotions. That’s the cause. And that’s a more compelling reason for golfers to play for their tournament or for sponsors to be a part of their annual event.
Having clarity on the cause will also help you refine your marketing plans, including who you will invite to join the tournament or who you’ll approach to invite as sponsors.
#3. Make the event attractive to golf lovers and sponsors
The cause itself will catch the attention of your target golfers and prospective sponsors. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore all the other moving parts of the event.
Whether you’re organizing a golf tournament for a cause or not, it’s critical that the venue, prizes, contests and all the activities during the event are well-planned and attractive to your target golfers and prospective sponsors. All of these can help ensure a high turnout during your event.
If you’re holding an annual charity golf tournament, providing all participants with a fun and memorable experience will make them want to come back in the succeeding years. So consider the current golf tournament your “marketing strategy” for the next year’s event.
#4. Promote your charity golf tournament both online and offline
Where should you share information about your golf tournament?
- Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.)
- Email signature
- Your own website
- Other relevant offline events
- Online niche groups
You don’t need to promote your event in all online and social media platforms. The key is to know who you’d like to attend your event, and then promote your event in a platform where you are likely to find them.
Most probably, they’re already in your network, so before you look too far, check out your own list of friends, customers, colleagues or connections in social media. Encourage them to share the information with their own social network.
Promotion and marketing shouldn’t just be the marketing team’s job. Ask for the committee members’ help in sharing the event with their circle of friends or colleagues. Everyone involved in the event can help spread the word and bring more people to the tournament.
There can be other factors that can make the promotion of your charity golf tournament more effective, but these four — clarity on goals, focusing on the cause, making your event attractive and promoting where your target golfers and sponsors are — will help ensure a high turnout in your fundraising golf tournament.
Now that you’re familiar with some of the fundamentals of organizing a charity golf tournament, you could use those tips to plan an event that the participants and sponsors would look forward to in the next years.