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Golf Tournament Fundraising Ideas

This guide to golf tournament fundraising ideas is split into 10 steps, showing you how to put together a successful event from beginning to end.

Golf tournaments can be terrific moneymakers - they can also be incredibly hard work and involve a great deal of time, resources and organization.

If you have a great team behind you and you're ready to tackle a challenge, read on!

If a full-blown golf tournament is a little too ambitious - perhaps you're working alone, or with a small team with little time to spare - then check out my section about small-scale golf tournament fundraising ideas.

You may still like to read through the rest of this page, however, and see what ideas you can potentially scale down to suit the time/resources you have available.


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Step 1 - Write a Plan

Once you've read through this page, you'll have a better understanding of why step 1 is so important!

There is a LOT of work to be done in organizing a golf tournament, so getting everything down on paper is essential. You can create 'to-do' lists for each aspect of setting up the event, making it easy for everyone in your team to see what's been done and what still needs doing.

And although I refer to 'paper', JUST as effective (or even more so) is creating an online document that your entire team can access and edit as necessary (Google Docs is great for this, although my personal favorite is Evernote).

Start planning your event at least 6 months ahead. 

Yes, you read that correctly! A successful fundraising golf tournament needs proper planning and cannot be rushed!

Step 2 - Organize your Team/Committee

Putting together a golf tournament requires a dedicated team. Ideally, try to recruit...

  • People who passionately support your fundraising organization (they will be committed)
  • People who play golf - they'll be familiar with all the golfing lingo (saving a great deal of confusion) and will have lots of tips and suggestions for making the event as appealing to golfers as possible. They may even be able to get you a good deal on the golf course.
  • People with strong connections in your local business community - they'll be useful for recruiting players AND sponsors.

Once you've got your team in place, it's time to divide up the responsibilities. Who does what, of course, will depend on the skill set of the individuals.

Areas of responsibility will be as follows...

Someone to seek sponsors

Sponsorship from local businesses is KEY to the success of your fundraising golf tournament, since that's where the majority of your profit will come from (NOT from the fees charged to the golfers, as some people believe).

In addition to someone selling sponsorship packages, you will also need someone to seek prizes for the raffle, items for the silent auction and items for the golfers' goody bags.

Alternatively, you might like to think about holding a golf marathon.

This is a relatively new concept, where the players themselves seek donations (and even sponsorships) prior to the tournament.

Sometimes a minimum pledge is required before a player is allowed to participate and there is no further charge for him (or her) to play once the minimum is met.


Register your sponsors and promote them online

www.golfregistrations.com makes it easy to register your sponsors online, plus promotion on your website makes your sponsorship packages more attractive!

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Someone to organize a team of volunteers to work at the tournament

Ensure your judges have sound golfing knowledge or you risk seriously undermining the credibility of your event!

You'll need a fair bit of manpower (or womanpower!) on the day, for things like greeting, serving, selling (merchandise), judging on the course, working on the registration tables, selling tickets, selling mulligans (more on those later) and giving out goody bags.

Staff and volunteers will need to be recruited at the planning stage then organized on the day itself.

Hospitality co-ordinator

This person is not responsible for the staff and volunteers providing the hospitality, but for the hospitality itself.

This will include things like organizing tables and tents, obtaining raffle tickets, obtaining golf carts, arranging entertainment, organizing food, booking a photographer/videographer etc.

Event marketer

This person will need to advertise the tournament as extensively as possible, using every avenue available for publicity.

These include

  • Posts to social media
  • Press release
  • Local TV/radio
  • Flyers and posters
  • Newspaper and magazine ads

Step 3 - Choose your Time and Place

When to hold your golf tournament

Weekday or weekend?

This depends on the type of players you'll be attracting to your event.

For a large-scale golf tournament catering to the business community, weekdays - especially Fridays - are preferable.

Why?

Because many business leaders consider a golf tournament like this to be a business activity in itself. Therefore, bosses tend to be happy to play (and for their staff to play) during business hours, as opposed to at weekends when family responsibilities may make it harder for them to attend.

Fridays are popular because golf is a great way for everyone to wind down at the end of a busy week. Do take into consideration, though, the fact that golf course rates may be cheaper midweek.

On the other hand, if you're planning a smaller scale, family oriented tournament, then a weekend event would be better and allow everyone (even children) to take part.


Best time of year?

Different times of the year have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Prime times are April, May, September and October.

The advantage is that the weather tends to be ideal for golf. The disadvantage is that these are the most expensive months to book!

March or November are the next best choices.

The weather may be on the cool side, but rates tend to be cheaper.

July and August are usually very reasonably priced...

...but for one, obvious reason. They're hot!


Contact your local Chamber of Commerce to ask if there are any dates on which other golf tournaments have been booked. You really don't want to be 'competing' for sponsors and players - but if your events are too close together, that may be just what you'll end up doing!


Where?

The ideal venue would be a private country club, because keen golfers will happily pay extra to play a course they wouldn't otherwise have access to. 

In addition, an exclusive club will attract players from a higher income bracket - and those players will, in turn, attract high quality sponsors with deep pockets.

Of course, exclusive clubs are not easy to book (which is precisely what makes them exclusive!), so this is where your committee members may come in handy.

See if they - or someone in their network - has an appropriate contact to enable you to book your event at the venue you're dreaming of!

The other consideration when hiring an exclusive course is cost.

Some successful organizers, however, will get around this problem by finding a sponsor willing to foot the bill - in exchange for the prestige of becoming the 'title sponsor' (giving their business or service maximum exposure).

Alternatively, look for a good public golf course that seems to offer the facilities you need. Then arrange a meeting and go armed with a list of questions!

Ideally, ensure that at least one of the attendees at this meeting from your organization is very familiar with the game of golf and its terminology.

Charity golf tournamentIt's important to pick the perfect venue for your charity golf tournament

Questions to ask before booking the golf course...

  • Do you have to guarantee a certain number of golfers?
  • Will you be penalized if the minimum number is not met?
  • What do the fees include? Will they cover golf balls, golf carts, gratuities etc?
  • How much is food?
  • Can you arrange to supply your own food/drink/alcohol?
  • Is a deposit required?
  • When must the bill be paid in full?
  • What is the cancellation policy? What happens in the event of bad weather?
  • Is there a sound system in the club (for speeches etc after the game)?
  • Can you sell your own merchandise at your event? (Some clubs will prohibit this, some will want a 'cut').
  • If you have little golfing experience, can the club's pro assist you in planning the event?
  • Are there any restrictions on displaying sponsors logos/banners on the course on the day?

Whatever agreement you reach, ensure that it's in writing and signed.

Step 4 - Decide on Your Golfing Format for the Day

Ask the golfing expert on your committee - or the club itself - for advice on the best way to structure play at your event.

There are various ways of arranging play during a fundraising golf tournament.

The most popular format is the 'scramble'.

This is where players are divided into teams of 4. Each team member drives on each hole and the captain of the team chooses the best drive. 

The second shot is then played by each member from the spot where the winning drive landed. Then the team captain chooses the best second shot. This process is repeated until the hole is completed.

There are some variations on a scramble, or additional rules (such as each team member's drive being used a certain number of times).

Many charity golf tournaments use a 'shotgun start'.

This is where 1 or 2 teams of 4 players are allocated different holes at which to start. That way, everyone gets started simultaneously, then rotates around the course.

Step 5 - Seek Sponsors

Sponsorship makes up the bulk of your profits when running a golf tournament fundraiser, so it's crucial that this step is carefully and thoroughly executed!

Whilst traditional sponsorship - where sponsors are sought by the fundraising organization prior to the tournament - is typical, another option is the 'golf marathon' or 'golfathon'.

The majority of organizations, however, still use the traditional approach, where committee members - hopefully with strong business connections - solicit valuable sponsorships from local companies.

Of course, local companies will want something in return, and that 'something' is advertising... plenty of it!

Put together the right sponsorship package - and follow through on your promises - and you'll have a 'win-win' situation, where sponsors are happy with their elevated profile within the community and YOU are happy with a very profitable event!

Offer different levels of sponsorship to include as many differently sized businesses as possible...

with the largest contributor being the 'title' sponsorship package. Each sponsorship level will therefore offer a different range of benefits, according to its value.

And ensure that the person 'selling' the sponsorship packages to potential donors clearly outlines the benefits they'll be getting.

If your tournament will be drawing in lots of influential community members, selling a solid sponsorship package should be a breeze!

Later in this article we'll look at some of the benefits you can offer and how to ensure your event leaves your sponsors feeling happy.


Woo your sponsors with 3 easy steps!

  • List your sponsorship packages online
  • Accept online registrations
  • Promote your sponsors' services via your tournament website

Visit www.golfregistrations.com to find out more


You will also need to seek prizes for your event

Similar to cash sponsorships, donating prizes will bring in advertising for your donors, the LEVEL of advertising depending on the value of the prizes they donate.

You will need prizes for raffles, any 'side game' held throughout the tournament and items for the silent auction (more on that later).

You will also need items for the golfers' 'goody bags' given to them at the tournament. Goody bags generally contain items such as golf balls, tees, mugs, key-rings etc.

Step 6 - Market Your Event

Market your fundraising golf tournament

It's important to let as many people know about your fundraising golf tournament as possible, using every means at your disposal.

If you have a committee member with the time/expertise, set up a website for your tournament to provide more details, display the sponsors' advertising and even to accept online donations. You can then market your event online via community groups (for example, a local Facebook page), then direct everyone to your website for details.

To make this step a LOT easier, consider using a software package from www.golfregistrations.com. This invaluable product allows you to do all these things effortlessly, leaving YOU more time to devote to other areas of organizing your event.

Of course, if your organization already HAS its own website, be sure to include information about your golf tournament there. Similarly, if your organization produces a newsletter, ensure it contains a comprehensive article supplying all relevant information.

In addition, notify the local press, radio and TV. Post flyers. Ask committee members and prospective players to spread the word. Share details with friends and contacts via social media.

Step 7 - Explore Every Avenue You Can to Maximize Profits on the Day

The goal of your tournament is ultimately to raise as much money as possible for your particular organization. Include as many of these ideas as possible to ensure that goal is reached!

NOTE: Please check with your golf club before implementing any of these ideas, as some may be prohibited.

  • Create a range of customized apparel, using a company such as Zazzle. Suggested items include visors, hats, golf balls, golf shirts etc. These could display either the logo of YOUR organization, or of your sponsors. Sell them DURING the tournament and BEFORE, via your website.
  • Hold at least 1 raffle on the day. In addition to a traditional raffle with prizes, you could also run a 50-50 raffle or a reverse raffle.
  • Hold a silent auction on the day. Display the items to be auctioned on a table, with a bid sheet in front of each, showing the minimum starting bid. Interested parties write down their bids, along with their phone number, with the highest bidder 'winning' the item. Seek donors for the items you're auctioning off.
  • Sell drinks, snacks, sunscreen and raffle tickets to the players on the course from well stocked golf carts. Among the more popular items to sell are cold beers and sodas, particularly in the warmer months.
  • If you've invited spectators, run side games for children.
  • Place donation boxes at strategic locations.
  • Mention and advertise your organization at every opportunity so that participants in your event are reminded WHY they're there!
  • Sell traditional fundraising items, such as lollipops and candy bars.
  • Add a little on to the club's entry fee per person, but not too much or you will fail to attract players. Remember - the REAL money is NOT in the entry fees... it's in the sponsorship.
  • Charge a (justifiably) higher entry fee by including a pro player or even a celebrity in every group of 4.
  • Sell sponsorship for each and every hole on the course.
  • Produce a booklet to hand out on the day and charge companies to advertise in it (tournament sponsors should be included anyway).
  • Sell 'mulligans'. These are tickets giving players the chance to replay a bad shot. They are usually limited to around 3 per person, but most players will buy them in order to avoid being at a disadvantage. A similar concept is selling 'hand grenades' - tickets to pick up your ball and throw it out of the bunker!
  • Sell tickets for an evening banquet (see below).
  • Run side games for players throughout the day - golf-related games they pay to play in return for (donated) prizes. Ideas for contests include: Closest to the Pin, Longest Drive, Beat the Pro, Putting Contest, Speed Contest.


Easily set up an online auction

If you're using the Professional software package from www.golfregistrations.com you can set up an online auction - a wonderful way to receive donations from people who can't make it to your event!

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Step 8 - Arrange a Post-Tournament Banquet

Charity golf banquetMake your charity golf tournament memorable with a banquet

After a fun day's golfing, players will appreciate a chance to unwind and discuss the day's events. A banquet is also another chance for you to promote your organization, your sponsors AND seek donations.

  • Sell separate tickets to the banquet - this might attract participants who are not interested in playing golf, but would still like to be part of the event.
  • Make the event memorable by providing entertainment and excellent food. If the club allows it, consider asking a local restaurant to provide the catering as part of a sponsorship deal.
  • Hold an awards ceremony based on the day's play.
  • Reveal winners of the silent auction items and draw the raffle during the meal. You may even like to incorporate a heads or tails raffle for fun!
  • Be sure to INDIVIDUALLY thank sponsors and donors during the banquet, and collectively thank your volunteers and committee members.
  • Give a short, entertaining speech highlighting the work of your organization and thereby raising awareness in your community.
  • If your venue has a pool, then arrange for the banquet to be help poolside and notify all guests to come prepared for a swim.
  • Consider using the banquet as a chance to honor an influential or well known community member. You will then attract players and diners from his/her social circle, who will happily support your efforts. 

Step 9 - Us These Tips to Ensure Your Sponsors and Players Leave Happy

Both your sponsors and your players need to feel that your fundraising golf tournament gave them value for money in one way or another. For sponsors, that will mean that supporting your event gave their business a significant boost. For players, it will mean ensuring they had an enjoyable, unforgettable day.

Here are some tips to help you meet both those objectives.

  • PROMOTE YOUR SPONSORS AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY. I can't emphasize this enough, because sponsorship is where your profits will (hopefully!) come from. Display your sponsors' logos and signage EVERYWHERE... on printed materials (brochures, flyers, invitations, thank you letters), on your website, on your Facebook page, in your newsletter, on golfers' gifts, in the dining hall... even in the car park!
  • If you are interviewed by the media, be sure to mention your sponsors by name.
  • Ensure the names and logos of donors are displayed on the bid sheets at your silent auction.
  • Give your golfers 'goody bags' and other gifts displaying your sponsors' logos. Sponsors will often be happy to supply the gifts themselves. Ideas include:
    * Mini golf bag kits
    * Golf bag tags (similar to luggage tags). These could be presented on arrival and used to indicate the players' golf cart assignments.
    * Personal fans (ideal for summer tournaments)
    * Custom golf gloves
    * Hats/shirts/visors
    * Free drinks (sponsored shots can be a big hit if your club allows them)
  • Take LOTS of photos at your event and make sure sponsors' logos are clearly visible. The purpose is twofold - the photos will look great on your Facebook page, website, newsletter etc, and your sponsors will be happy with the extra promotion. Want even MORE impact? Make a video and upload it to YouTube!
  • Provide your sponsors with ways to advertise and sell to players. For example, you could recommend that players visit sponsors stores, where they will receive a special discount.
  • Set aside an area for your key sponsors to both entertain their clients and distribute their customized free gifts. A feature like this is a real 'selling point' for a sponsorship package, so ensure the person responsible for signing up sponsors emphasizes this benefit.
  • Don't allow anyone at your event to go thirsty or hungry at any time, and don't overbook your event, leaving players standing around because there are too many teams at a hole at any given time. 
  • Make sure you find out at an early stage if your sponsors want to play, so you can book them in and not risk running out of space!

Go the extra mile to make your event really stand out in the memories of all who attend

It's the little (and a few big!) extras that go a long way towards making your event unique... so that players and sponsors will be queuing up to take part next time.

Here are some tips to make your fundraising golf tournament extra special...

  • Send 'save the date' cards to sponsors and players at least 3 months before the event (preferably, as soon as you've booked your venue). Busy and influential community members tend to have very full calendars very far in advance.
  • Have all volunteers at your event wear matching T-shirts, displaying the name of YOUR fundraising organization and possibly the logos of key sponsors. Give them name tags, too - a nice little touch which personalizes interactions between players, sponsors and staff on the day.
  • Have volunteers meet guests on arrival and assist when departing, ensuring everything runs smoothly.
  • Give your day a theme. If your organization supports artistic pursuits, for example, then apply an 'art' theme to all aspects of your day. For example, you could use art-related stickers instead of tickets for mulligans. You could 'name' your sponsorship package levels, for example the 'da Vinci' package, the 'Picasso' package etc.
  • Add fun touches to your evening banquet, such as flowers displayed in glass vases filled with golf balls, a golf-themed cake etc.
  • If funds will extend to it and you have permission, organize something REALLY special, like this helicopter ball drop...




Step 10 - Say Thank You!

Send thank you letters to sponsors and players, asking if they enjoyed your event.

Send thank you gifts to your sponsors. For key sponsors, make the gift extra special - Framed Golf Art would be ideal.

Include an engraved plaque showing the name and date of the event, along with the company's name. Your sponsor will be likely to put a gift like this on display, giving the entire event increased exposure.


Let Golf Registrations take care of the details!

As you can see, setting up a charity golf tournament is quite an undertaking... yet it can be one of the most rewarding and profitable events you'll ever organize!

I highly recommend using the software provided by www.golfregistrations.com to simplify all the areas that CAN be simplified, such as registering all your sponsors and players AND receiving online donations (an important feature that really boosts profits!).

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Tips for organizing a small-scale fundraising golf tournament

If a fully fledged golf tournament is simply beyond the means of your fundraising organization, you can take the main ideas discussed here and scale them down to create a smaller event.

The biggest expense is the venue, so it makes sense for a small school, for example, to use its own playing field or campus. A small organization without its own grounds could ask to rent a school playing field, which would be significantly cheaper than a proper golf course.

The problem when playing golf in a small area is that golf balls tend to travel a great distance... and with a significant amount of force. This puts school windows, cars etc at risk and can make the entire idea seem unfeasible.

A GREAT solution is the Almost Golf Ball.

Balanced for spin, trajectory and accuracy, the Almost Golf Ball compresses just like a real golf ball when you hit it, so it feels (and sounds) just the same.

But it travels a more limited distance and is FAR softer, meaning it can safely be used in smaller venues. Long lasting and durable, I think the Almost Golf Ball is the perfect solution for small organizations wanting to enjoy the fun (and profits) of a golfing fundraiser.


I hope this page has shown you how to put together a successful and professional golf tournament fundraising event that everyone will enjoy and that you will be confident to organize year after year.



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