A successful golf tournament creates good memories for meeting and incentive trip attendees – and can be a great business-booster, too, if clients are involved. Here's how to plan a golf event that will stand out from all of the others.
Plan at least four months out. Most golf courses are ready to help you with the planning task, as they likely have a few dozen group events come through each season, and so have a system for handling groups. But you should contact the pro shop at your desired course at least 120 days out; not only do you have to ensure that the course is free on the day you want it, you and your staff will need that much time to create your itinerary, coordinate the details and market the event. The golf shop will usually assist any group that has 16 or more players, and can accommodate as many as 144 players on a course for a single event. But groups generally need to have at least 60 players – and sometimes 80 – to secure what's called a 'shotgun' start on the course.
Budget carefully. "Tournaments can run way over budget due to unanticipated costs," says Daiva Rugienius, events coordinator for Corporate Golf Tournaments. Besides obvious costs like course rentals, banquets and trophies, Rugienius advises searching out hidden expenses such as club extras and cart fees and minimums, gratuities and taxes. "When you've catalogued every possible expense, divide by the minimum number of participants to get your per-person cost," she says.
Create a tournament Website. To drum up players, you might have to market aggressively. One tool that helps boost attendance at low cost is the Internet. "I'm seeing many organizations create individual Web pages for their golf events," says Walt Galanty, founder of AIM Meetings & Events. "A golf-events site can be used for registration and for keeping up interest of attendees and letting them know who else is playing," Galanty adds. "On the site, you can also post names of the winners and the prizes they won and allow attendees to order photos directly from the photographer. Not only that, but it can allow hotlinks to your events sponsors' Websites."
An additional tip: "Build excitement with photos from previous events," advises Rugienius.
Choose foursomes wisely. Once the attendee list is set, there are several things to consider when grouping players into foursomes. The first, of course, is business interest. People come to business-golf events to meet others with reciprocal business interest, so allowing attendees to choose on their registrations forms who are in their group, or which type of buyer or supplier they'd like to be paired with, is wise. The other consideration is handicaps. By having players list their handicap on their registration, the golf shop can determine who should play with whom so that the pace of play does not get too slow. Also, handicaps help the golf pro determine which playing format would be best.
Create a game-day timeline. "Start registration at least an hour ahead of tee-off," says Rugienius, "and make sure your support staff arrives on time." Equipment, gifts and trophies should be delivered well ahead of time, unpacked, sorted and available for distribution where and when they are to be distributed.
Don't forget awards and giveaways. You'll want to give attendees logoed items that they'll use over and over again to help them remember the great time they had. (See "Tournament Shopping List" below.) And, you'll want high-quality photos. Rugienius advises hiring someone to photograph all of the course events and post the photos on clamshell display boards immediately following the tournament. When the tournament concludes, hand out awards at a cocktail party or dinner, and have a videographer on hand to create a customized DVD for all attendees.
Tournament Shopping List
Here are some popular logoed giveaways for golf events:
Polos – These are a staple at any upscale tournament. Look for a relaxed fit, moisture wicking mesh, knit collar and UPF sun protection. Place a tonal logo on the sleeve for an understated look.
Golf balls – Shorten play time by choosing urethane-covered balls engineered for maximum distance off of a wide range of swing types.
Shoe bags – Choose models with heavy-duty construction with a handy top handle, mesh screens for ventilation and a plush lining to avoid scrapes and scuffs.
Hats – Opt for a logoed bill cap featuring structured, well-fitted construction, a dark underbill to reduce glare and vibrant stitching and piping.
Jackets – Choose full or quarter zip, depending on the look and style.
Golf bags – Consider inexpensive gear bags as starter gifts and hole prizes, but go all out with beautifully-textured leather club bags for top winners and raffle prizes.
Gloves – Choose a pair with superior suppleness, enhanced moisture and heat dissipation and good, flexible mesh airflow.
Golf packs – Prepare your duffers for the elements by choosing kits that include sunblock, lip balm, moist towelettes and insect repellent.
Divots – Look for divots with curved, course-friendly designs that repair grass without pulling it out by the roots.
Towels – Features to look for include: 100% double-sheared cotton, expert hemming and grommet hooks.
Trophies – A variety of options are available, from mounted crystal balls, golf pyramids, presentation boxes, descriptive plaques and distinctive vases. Work with your Hasseman Marketing rep to find the perfect item.