Drive For Show, Plan For More Dough!

By Rich Zellmer

I saw a Masters Tournament TV commercial on TV last weekend so the time is near! Yes, golf season and golf events are only a few short months away. Years ago I was fortunate to help local TV celebrity Joe Schmit plan, implement and evaluate his hugely successful celebrity golf event to raise money for Twin Cities Big Brothers & Sisters. During that process I picked up and used an acronym for event success called “P.I.E.” Simply stated, as your golf event committee meets and discusses event time and action plans, remind everyone which phase of the event you’re executing; 1st phase is planning, 2nd phase is implementing and the final phase is evaluating. Stay focused on the event P.I.E!

Here are five creative golf event ideas that will help you generate new revenue. I am excited to provide these proven ideas to help keep your event fresh and exciting. Whether your event is new or in its 20th year, start the planning phase now to incorporate these innovative ways to raise more money for your designated cause while using the great game of golf.

Plan a “walk n talk” networking event on the golf course the morning of your golf event. Invite the public to use this unique idea to “walk n talk” and network with others during a nine hole walk on the same beautiful course the golfers will play later in the day. I helped Inver Hills College get a morning walk event started and we raised another $5000 in sponsorships and pledges with very little work required from the volunteers for that days event. Think about it, “walk n talk” participants would only need to sign up nine donors on their pledge sheet and they are in! Keep it simple, the pledge sheet simply tells walkers to sign up nine donors who donate $2 a hole or $18 total to raise money for a worthy cause. If your host golf course wants to charge you an additional fee to use their facility for an on the course morning “walk n talk,” you should seek bids from other courses that will.

Plan to add media to your event sponsor packages. Event sponsors will get more value for their investment and your golf event will experience more publicity when you allocate a portion of sponsor income to buy media be it print, radio or television. For the above mentioned Inver Hills Golf event, we landed a new event sponsor who loved the idea of hearing his company recruiting radio spots on WCCO Radio while also helping our college launch the “walk n talk” event. Here’s how it worked. The sponsor paid us $5000 in cash to sponsor “walk n talk”. We spent $800 of the $5000 on radio spots with WCCO Radio to promote job openings at the company and the last part of the recruiting spots mentioned the company was proud to support Inver Hills College golf event. We also landed a local community newspaper as a “walk n talk” sponsor and placed an event print ad in their newspaper that included the event sponsor logos. In today’s business environment, sponsors are seeking value so plan to spend some of their investment on event media.

Plan a golf art and collectible garage sale. I spent a short time living and working in Florida, the golf capital of the USA. I noticed several golf events down there advertised a golf art and collectible sale as part of their day’s golf event. The public was welcome to donate golf memorabilia to the event and the public was invited to visit the event site or go to the event website to bid on the items. The popularity of Antiques Roadshow on public TV was the inspiration for this new and fun idea. One Florida event boasted about the fact their golf art and collectible garage sale included an Arnold Palmer signed putter from the 60’s! I don’t know how much the putter generated in the sale but it had to be in the hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Plan a celebrity “Roast n Toast” breakfast. The morning of your golf event, plan a light hearted celebrity roast breakfast format by charging a fee for the breakfast / roast and raise a few thousand dollars the morning of your golf event. Where do you find a celebrity? Ask local radio and TV station personalities. If you’ve spent event sponsor money with a radio station as I suggested in item 2 above, that station may be open to providing a personality and also doing some public service announcements on their station. I did a similar event that starred retiring WCCO Radio sports broadcaster Ray Christensen and we raised over $10,000 from his “Roast n Toast” for the U of M Athletics Fund.

Plan a Pool Party! Secure a donated portable swimming pool, fill it with water and place it on the driving range for the duration of your event. Invite the public and day of the event golfers to visit the driving range “Pool Party”. Each participant would buy a bucket of range balls and become eligible to win a donated grand prize if they hit a high, soft shot that lands and stays in the pool placed 50 yards away from the tee. A portion of each bucket of range balls will benefit your event and raise hundreds of dollars.

As with all special event fundraisers, their success is directly related to the number of quality volunteers recruited to assist with all the event details. Start planning now to reward and recognize your event volunteers.

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