If I Was… In Charge Of Running Charity Events

By Jim McNaney






Over the years I have been fortunate enough to have played in some really fun events. I have played in every type of event you can think of. Family tournaments, charity fundraisers, celebrity pro-ams, section pro-ams, professional tournaments (including a miserable attempt to qualify for the PGA TOUR’s John Deere Classic years ago) and even one Calcutta, you name it… I’ve played in it.

With the exception of the professional tournaments, all of the events are basically the same. Four or five person scrambles are really fun, but they can lead to some bad habits in the golf swing and generally the “stacked” team always runs away with it.

Tell me if this sounds familiar. “Ok we’ve got one in the fairway so bombs away boys!”

That battle cry is usually followed by a massively over-swung driver that ends up in someone else’s fairway, or worse… yard. Usually I am the last or second to last player to play and that generally leads to me trying to swing like I’m on the Long Driver’s Tour.


The thing is, I’d like a little variety in these events. I’d like to shake things up a bit. So, if I were in charge of running some of these types of events there would be some “minor” tweaks.


These are fun and are always for a great cause, but remember they are trying to raise money for the charity. Why not make every hole have some sort of nominal fee.

What I mean is, on every hole have some type of paid “scoring assistance.” Pay $5 on hole number 1 and you get to tee it up from the farthest forward tee. The second hole, $5.00 for the team gets you an automatic one-putt when you hit the green. Third hole $5.00 gets you…

You get the picture. Keep the numbers really small but $5.00 times 18 holes is $90.00. Multiply that by 30 teams and that’s $2,700.00 extra for the charity.

If you think that you’ve already paid enough just to play in it, remember this… the charity has to PAY for the course. If you are charged $150.00 to play, generally $80 to $100 of that goes back to the course, not the charity. Additionally… IT’S FOR CHARITY. Don’t be a Scrooge.

If you think, “That takes away the competition of the tournament.” Really. It’s a charity scramble not The Masters. Winning is great, but these days are for raising awareness and MONEY!


OK so these can be a bit more competitive. After all, they are still generally trying to raise funds but, in most cases, they have paid sponsors adding to the pot. Of course, it’s still a good thing to be generous with donations, but most of these have celebrity athletes. Something happens to retired professional athletes when faced with anything competitive… they play to win. They can’t help themselves. It IS part of what made them professional athletes after all.

My idea to spice these up a bit is to rotate every tee you hit from. Everyone hits from the back tees on hole number one, the middle tees on hole number two and the forward tees from hole number 3. Keep rotating each hole back – middle – front every three holes.

Sure, some longer hitters might have an advantage on some holes, but making everyone play all the way back on some holes makes things a little more interesting.

Another thing that would make these more interesting is maybe switching the format every six holes. First six are a traditional scramble. That is everyone hits, then the team picks the best shot and then everyone hit from that spot. The next six holes play a SHAMBLE. Similar format off the tee. Everyone plays from the best drive but then each player plays their own ball the rest of the hole. Take the best one or two scores for the team on the hole. The final six holes are what I call a reverse scramble. You play the WORST shot (the ball must be in play and not in a penalty area) and everyone plays from there.

I’ve played that last one a couple of times in small events and it really does even out the playing field.

Of course, when you are talking about a member/guest or a club championship, you can’t really mess with the formats all that much. Still, it would be nice to see normal pin placements. Most courses put the pins for the club championship in such difficult places you’d think all the members have their PGA TOUR cards.

Just because it is a “championship” does not mean you need to make the pins so ridiculous your club’s best player shoots 7 strokes over their handicap. Ultimately though, that one is on the professional or superintendent.

So, if you are involved in running a fundraiser or charity event, think outside the box. Don’t just stick with the traditional 4-person scramble. Live a little. Spice it up. I guarantee that people will have a good time and when that happens wallets usually open.