How to Host a Charity Golf Tournament

By James Roland

A golf tournament can be a profitable and entertaining way to raise money and awareness for a charity. Golfers get to enjoy a day of competition while feeling good about supporting a worthy cause. Business sponsors get some publicity while also assisting an organization in need. The golf course may also draw some attention from folks who might not have seen the place. The keys to a successful event, though are getting plenty of volunteers, sponsors and the assistance of a helpful crew at the golf course hosting the tournament.


Difficulty: Moderate
Step 1
Learn what works and what needs help. If your job as charity golf tournament host involves taking over an established event, you would be wise to talk with as many people as possible who have been involved in past years. Ask tough questions. Is this the best golf course for the tournament? What have we gotten complaints about in the past? Are we getting enough publicity? Do we need more volunteers?
Step 2
Understand what the charity's role and expectations are with the tournament. Talk with leaders of the group about how much money they are expecting to raise, how many volunteers they can provide and how you can help them in their mission.
Step 3
Introduce yourself to the key players involved as soon as possible. Talk with existing (and potential new) sponsors, volunteers and golf course personnel.
Step 4
Be bold. If you have ideas for improving an event, put them out there and see if they will work. If you are the one in charge, trust your judgment and make some changes. Sometimes the "we've always done it this way" state of mind needs to be shaken up a bit.
Step 1
Be realistic the first year. You may envision a huge tournament field raising tons of money right off the bat, but sometimes events like this take time to develop.
Step 2
Start the publicity machine early. Find out the community news editors and contacts at local newspapers and television stations and send them press releases with telephone call follow-ups. Let them know you have representatives from your charity, and even people that your charity benefits, are available for interviews. Do the same with local news websites and blogs. Ask to post fliers at local pro shops and sporting goods stores in your area.
Step 3
Talk with other groups that run charity golf tournaments and ask for tips. There may be things you just haven't thought of that they have already mastered. If it's all for charity, most people will be happy to help out.
Step 4
Delegate responsibilities. Gather a few hard-working people together and put an individual in charge of volunteer recruiting, publicity, golf course relations, sponsor relations and day of event management. You'll have a hand in all those areas, but you'll need people who are focused on their particular role to move things along.
Step 1
Start with golf courses that you know already host charity tournaments. If a course has experience with these kinds of events, you can use that as a means of introducing your project: "I know you guys do a fantastic job with the (fill-in-the-blank) tournament and I was hoping you might consider helping us out with a similar event."
Step 2
If the course regularly hosts charity events, talk with management about what they need from you and what they can provide you. The pros, catering folks and anyone else associated with the course can be invaluable in helping make sure that the event runs smoothly.
Step 3
Plan ahead. Think about the weather and other possible conflicts during the weekend that you are considering for your event. Super Bowl Sunday might be a great day for a Florida tournament weather-wise, but a lot of golfers might have other plans that day.
Step 1
Start recruiting sponsors early in the planning stages. The better the prizes and food and refreshments, the more golfers and entry fees you will collect. Start a list of possible event sponsors, including businesses that have assisted your charity in the past, as well as large restaurants in your area, golf equipment shops, beer and soft drink distributors, charter fishing operations, resorts and maybe even some unusual options, like a place that offers skydiving lessons.
Step 2
Be willing to work with the sponsors and meet their requests. If they want a giant sign at the awards ceremony, figure out a way to make it happen. Try to include the sponsors' names on all press releases.
Step 3
Get the sponsors together with the people your charity benefits to let both sides understand who is helping to make the event happen and who is reaping the rewards.
Step 4
Remember that no sponsorship level is too small or too large. A major sponsor may get more attention at the tournament or top billing on a sign or T-shirt, but a local pub that is willing to toss in a few bucks or a free dinner to be raffled off at the end of the day should be welcomed with open arms.
Step 1
Make sure that there are enough volunteers to direct the golfers where to go to register and find out when and where they are to tee off. Figure on at least 50 volunteers to man each tee and hole, to handle registration, help set up and handle the awards ceremony and be available for any other needs.
Step 2
Make sure that the driving range has plenty of free golf balls available for warm-ups.
Step 3
Have a schedule and stick to it as best as possible. The golfers want to help out the charity, but they mainly want to play and compete, so keep the speeches short.
Step 4
Have an alternate day already in the books in case of inclement weather.
Step 5
Move the dinner and awards ceremony along swiftly, but give proper recognition to the sponsors and the winners so that folks will want to be involved again in future years.

Tips & Warnings

Find a mentor, someone who has hosted charity golf tournaments before, and ask for as much guidance as possible. Likewise, let the golf course pros do some of the "heavy lifting" since helping organize these events is part of their job.
Don't get too ambitious the first year. Better to start small and build in succeeding years than to take on more than you or your group can handle. A badly run event can turn off sponsors and golfers who want to be involved in a well-run tournament.

About The Author

James Roland is the editor of a monthly health publication that has approximately 75,000 subscribers in the United States and Canada. Previously, he worked as a newspaper reporter and editor, covering issues ranging from the environment and government to family matters and education. He earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Oregon.


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