Planning Your 2013 Golf Tournament

By Pat Reis

Even though it is October, and sadly the end of the 2012 Minnesota golf season is in sight, it is the perfect time to begin preparing for your 2013 golf event. Whether you are starting to plan a new tournament or entering the 10th year of an existing successful event, the earlier the better to begin your planning for 2013.

Here are some tips that might be helpful as you look ahead to next year.

For New Startup Tournaments:

1. COMMITTEE: Assuming you have already identified a benefiting charity (or charities), your first step should be to assemble a planning committee for your event. Your committee can be small or large relative to the scale of your event and how much you will be depending on volunteers, but it is important to have people onboard who are willing to take an ownership stake in the effort to sell sponsorships, recruit golfers and volunteers, solicit for prize and auction item donations, and divide responsibilities that will lead you to a successful event. Ideally, one or more people should agree to lead your committee (chair or co-chairs), and at least one representative on your committee should be a representative from the benefiting charity.

2. GOALS: Once you have a benefiting charity or charities designated, and at least the initial members of a planning committee confirmed, you need to work together to establish goals for your event. Your committee will need to brainstorm to assess what kinds of contacts they have for potential sponsors and foursomes, and from there you should be able to create a menu of sponsorship levels, and work toward setting an end-net fundraising target. I would strongly encourage you to lean more conservative and realistic (as opposed to being overly optimistic) when pricing your sponsorship and foursome packages, and setting your fundraising goals. More often than not, event committees overestimate their ability to sell sponsorships and recruit golfers. It is important to recognize that it is usually a two-five year progression before your event will reach its full potential.

3. FORMAT/IDENTITY: At this point, your committee should share their ideas to create the identity of your event. Tournament name, golf format, morning or afternoon start, meals (breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner), player gift(s) budget, celebrity involvement, auction and/or raffle, on-course activities and fundraising, etc., are all elements your committee should define before you go out to sell the event to sponsors and golfers. These items might also help you determine the type of golf course you will want to select for your event.

4. BUDGET: Now that you have a fundraising target, a good idea of your price levels for sponsors and individual golfers, and a sense of the kind of event you want, you should be able to estimate a budget per golfer for golf, lunch, dinner, gifts and prizes, while also accounting for other expenses for printed materials and signage, advertising/publicity, staff or professional event management support, etc.

5. GOLF COURSE: Picking the correct golf course can make a huge impact in the success of your charity tournament. Hopefully you will have some golfers on your committee who might have an idea of courses they like, but otherwise you can go to the website to read about area courses to get your search process started. Golf course websites are very helpful in giving you an idea of the costs, the length and style of the golf course, size of banquet rooms, and the staff support and amenities that are provided by the golf course. We recommend that you contact at least three golf courses during your search that fit within your estimated budget. There are plenty of courses in every price range, and you should be able to find several that fit within your budget if you are willing to do a little research.

The Next Steps for Both New and Existing Events:

1. CONTACT THE GOLF COURSE: Inquire with the person responsible for outside golf events at the golf course. At most courses, the person responsible for booking golf events is the general manager, banquet manager or director of golf.

2. DATE AVAILABILITIES: Some courses offer full shotgun events only on Mondays (private clubs, municipal courses), while other courses will accept events as many as seven-days a week. There are a variety of golf courses in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin that specialize in corporate and charity events. Once you have an idea for the day of the week and the week(s) or month(s) you would prefer to schedule your event, you should immediately contact courses to identify available dates that match your desired timing. It is imperative that you contact courses now to book your before all of the best available dates are taken.

3. COSTS/PACKAGES: Many courses give detailed information about their tournament packages online, but feel free to ask any additional questions to be sure you have every item covered and to confirm that the information on their website is accurate (they might still have their 2012 pricing listed). Some courses offer all-inclusive packages (golf, cart, range balls, lunch, dinner, pro-shop credit), while others add those items together ala carte. Most courses require a minimum number of golfers for a shotgun event, many courses add a service charge for food and beverages, and there will be a cost for extra meals for volunteers and non-golfing guests. Be sure to compile all of the costs that apply to the needs of your event (read the proposal/contract carefully) so you can compare courses apples-to-apples.

4. SECURE YOUR DATE/COURSE: Once you make a decision, be sure to secure the date and course with a signed contract (you should try to tour the facilities before making a final decision), and as a courtesy, please let the other courses you contacted know that you have decided to go with another course.

When you have completed this process, you will be ready to hit the ground running to secure the sponsors, golfers, donations and volunteers that will make your event a success in 2013.

Pat Reis is the founder of Tee-to-Green Events, an event management company specializing in charity golf events since 1993. Tee-to-Green Events had planned more than 200 charity golf tournaments and other fundraising events (galas and festivals), ranging from PGA Tour exhibitions, sports and media celebrity events, major corporate fundraisers, to local grass-roots tournaments. Feel free to contact Pat at 612-636-3905 or if you have any questions about the tips provided in this article or if you would like to inquire about how Tee-to-Green Events could help your charity or committee with a new or existing tournament.

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