How to Organize a Golf Tournament

Your organization has decided to host a charity golf tournament and you've been asked to help plan it. The content created here is designed to help answer this question, "How to organize a golf tournament?" Below we've provided some basic guidelines for you to consider as you start organizing your golf tournament. This information should help keep your planning process on track, and make you look like a pro the day of your charity golf tournament. Whether this is your first time planning a golf tournament or you already have an established fundraising event, GolfRegistrations can help.

Planning and Research

The first step in organizing a charity golf tournament is establishing goals. Determine how much money you need to raise and estimate costs as this will influence your planning. Charity golf tournaments are known to be one of the most lucrative fundraising events if done right. Create a written project plan that spells out goals and outlines roles and responsibilities.

Before you start your planning, do some research. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce to find out if other Golf Tournaments are taking place in your area. Over saturation of too many golf fundraisers could lead to low attendance and unattainable financial goals. This should also be carefully considered when selecting the date of your event, as you'll want to avoid competing against other tournaments or large community charity events.

Assemble Your Charity Golf Planning Committee

Successful events hinge on the recruitment and action of a strong leadership team. Ideally your team should be comprised of individuals with diverse skills and talents that share a common interest in the organization's success. It is also highly suggested that you get knowledgeable golfers involved on your event planning committee. They may not know about fundraising, but they've been to enough golf tournaments to know what works and what doesn't.

Working smart at this stage of the game requires delegation. Consider assigning a person (or team of people) to the following project areas:

  • Corporate Sponsorship and Donations: This person or team should have experience in sales and building partnerships to create sponsorship packages that outline benefits and obligations. They will then raise money for your organization by soliciting event sponsorship from local businesses. This group will want to work closely with the marketing team to ensure all sponsorship obligations are fulfilled (i.e. signage, logo inclusion on printed materials, thank you's, etc).
  • Marketing & Public Relations: It will be beneficial to have someone with a communications background for this role. This person will write press releases and pitch story ideas to media. They will also create print and promotional materials (i.e. flyers, print ads, event posters, etc.) to help spread the word about the event throughout the community.
  • Hospitality & Day of Event Operations: He or she organizes "day of event" logistics including table or tent rentals, raffle tickets, cash boxes, golf cart rentals, placing event signage, etc. This group also plans pre- and post-event meals and activities, and coordinates entertainment. It may be a nice gesture to have an on-site photographer to take pictures at the event. These will be great assets for the post-event recap on your website, newsletter, etc.
  • Prize Committee: This person or group is responsible for finding items for goody bags that each golfer receives such as golf balls, tees, and other small promotional items. They will also work with the sponsorship coordinator to assist with obtaining donated items for raffles or silent auctions.
  • Volunteer Committee: This group will organize staff & volunteers for day of event activities including:
    • Judging Panel - Recruit a few volunteers who know the game of golf well to help keep order on the course, judge on-course contests, etc.
    • Welcome Committee - Friendly, outgoing individuals to welcome guests, set up registration tables, prize tables, distribute goody bags, snacks, drink tickets, sell raffle tickets, etc.

Selecting & Negotiating with the Golf Course

A critical step in the planning process is the selection of the actual golf course. To gain instant credibility with the golf community, sponsors and guest pros that attend, choose an exclusive course that is highly rated in your area. Try to avoid a local community course just because it fits within your schedule or budget. If it is a "members only" course, find out who is on their board and determine if you have any contacts to reach out to these members to obtain approval for your organization to use the course. Be sure to consider the costs that some of these more elite courses may charge, and if there are high fees, consider asking a local business to pick up this tab by being "title" sponsor of your charity golf outing.

Forging a strong partnership with a golf course can help you establish a strong foundation for a successful charity golf tournament. Once you've identified a course that meets your needs, you'll want to iron out the details with the golf course staff. Putting everything into writing and signing an agreement can alleviate confusion on tournament day. Here are some things you'll want to include in your contract:

  • Date and tee time: Be flexible here! Courses may offer discounts for off-season or mid-week golf dates.
  • Description of tournament services: Are golf balls, golf carts, scorecards, gratuities and service fees, etc. included?
  • Number of golfers and guarantees: When is attendee list due? Are there penalties if estimated number of golfers is reduced?
  • Total costs: Costs per golfer, costs for food, beverage, services, etc. and due dates for deposit and final payment.
  • Cancelation terms and weather policy

In summary, make sure you are prepared with a list of questions before you start negotiations with the course. You may want to compare costs and services between a few different courses to ensure you are getting a fair deal, and put everything in writing to protect your organization. But most important, make sure you feel comfortable with the terms and the staff at the course as you want to make sure the course will treat your guests to a great day of hospitality!

Managing the Details for your Charity Golf Tournament

At this point, you are probably wondering how you are going to manage all these moving parts, meet deadlines, and ensure you and your planning team are prepared for event day. GolfRegistrations is the industry leading golf tournament software system for managing the full event life cycle of your charity golf tournament including:

  • Manage player registrations, teams and assign holes
  • Organize pre event promotions
  • Store company & sponsor logos, course maps, course photos
  • Sell and promote sponsorships online
  • List auction & raffle items online and collect pre-event bids
  • Generate tournament reports
  • View event planning progress including an integrated tournament planning checklist which outlines specific dates & tasks
  • Process secure online payments

Other Resources

GolfRegistrations provides golf tournament planners with a complete set of free resources to help make your charity golf outing a success. Visit our Golf Tournament Resource Center for additional information and sample documents which can easily be modified for your needs including: tournament planner & checklist, spreadsheet for tournament budgets, sample golf tournament flyers, golf tournament E-book, and more!