Step #4 Selecting A Golf Course

By Phil Immordino

Choosing the appropriate golf course is arguably the most important decision tournament planners must make. Planning and preparation can not move forward until the venue is selected.

An arts organization in Scottsdale Arizona produced a Golf-A-Thon at one of the nicest golf courses in the country, a private course that charges $250,000 for membership and guests pay $250 for green fees. This non-profit organization was able to use this golf course for free.

This group was able to get the course for free by going to the owner and asking him to be on the board of the group. Because he was on the board he was able to offer the course for free for their event. It was a win-win for everyone because the golf course received tremendous exposure in media for their contribution.

Choosing a Golf Course
Choosing a golf course is one of the most important ingredients of a successful event. Your golfers will always comment on the course, good or bad. It is part of the tournament that they will remember. If you have a bad course, it will be hard to get them back next year.

When looking for a course, ask yourself these key questions.
1. What is the driving distance for the golfers to the course?
2. What is the skill level of the golfers and the course?
3. Are our golfers attracted to a new course or traditional?
4. Does the price of the course correlate with the entry fee of the tournament?

The best golf course for a fundraising event is a free golf course. How do you find a free golf course? Relationships are the key. When developing your committee, take time to analyze your contacts. Seek out individuals that have some tie to a golf course. You can contact the course directly, although having an inside source will give you a better chance.

Season, Dates and Prime Times Dictate Price
The highest course rates will be charged during peak season and for the prime times that golfers desire to play golf. The best rate for a tournament is the shoulder season. The shoulder rate is charged during the unpredictable seasons. Keep in mind that the course conditions may not be at their best during this time. Additionally, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are always the busiest times for a golf course. Monday through Thursday will offer the best rate for tournaments.

Golfers Choice
What do the golfers want? The only way to know for sure what golfers want is to do a survey. Survey the golfers after the tournament for the following year. Here are a few questions to ask on your survey:

• Do you like a difficult course?
• Do you want to play a new course or a traditional course?
• How far will you travel to play in the tournament?
• What is your best day to play?
• Would your rather play a private Country Club?
• What is your handicap?
• What is your salary range?
• What is your job description?
• What price range do you prefer?
• List friends that you would like us to contact?

What Golfers Look For
• A Good Value – A good golf course at a good price.
• Course Conditions – A course in good condition.
• A Challenge – A course that is not boring and flat.
• New Courses – One that they have not played.
• Good Service – Golfers want to be treated special.
• Good Food – Good food is a must.
• Drinks Available – Cart service is very much appreciated.
• Many Contests – The more contests the better, they’ll have fun.
• No more than a 5-hour round – They do not want to spend all day there.
• Friendly Atmosphere – Fun people add to the experience.

Contracting With the Golf Course
Do not agree to have a golf tournament without a contract in writing signed by agents of the tournament and the course. Do not depend on verbal agreements. Put everything in writing before you commit to the course. Here are a few of the key items that should be on a contract: date, location, contact person, services offered, cost per player, tax, gratuity, deposit due, total amount due and date when final count is required. Most importantly…how many players are to participate in the tournament?

Golf Course should include the following “extras” in the contract:
Cart Golfer’s name on cart
Range balls Rules sheet
Gift certificates Free foursome to be given as a prize
Contest materials Drink service
Bag tag Hang sponsor’s signage
Pairings sheet Scoring of the tournament

Key Suggestion:
Do not over commit the number of golfers. Under estimate, you can always add at the last minute.

The Bottom Line
Golfers will participate in your golf tournament because of the golf course that you chose. Chose a property that golfers are excited to play and offer them valve.