Organize a Successful Golf Tournament in 12 Easy Steps

Written by
Kyle Sherman
Published on
May 8, 2022 at 8:00:00 AM PDT May 8, 2022 at 8:00:00 AM PDTth, May 8, 2022 at 8:00:00 AM PDT

As the U.S. Open gets underway this week at Chambers Bay in the Pacific Northwest, we’re inspired to help you set up your own golf tournament.

Whether your goal is to hold a fundraising event, host clients or stage an employee outing, a golf tournament could be just the event to delight your guests. If you’ve never planned a golf tournament before, you’ll not only need to work closely with the golf course, you’ll want to enlist the help of your own staff and the media to help ensure that the golf tournament runs successfully. By properly outfitting your golf tournament, you could take advantage of free publicity on other golf courses, get name recognition in the tournament and connect your charity or business with a memorable experience.

Here’s an easy checklist:

1. Pick a Few Dates – including a date for the event, a date for rain delay and a registration deadline that allows for sufficient time to plan and execute the event.

2. Choose the Venue – making sure to sign a contract with the golf course that includes fees as well as course responsibilities such as advertising, beverages, food, etc.

3. Plan the Tournament Play – working with the course manager to decide which holes will work best for specialty challenges like Closest to the Hole, Longest Drive or Hole in One.

4. Decide on a Caterer – to provide a meal for the tournament’s award ceremony and to conclude the event. Please note: Any food provided between the 9th and 10th hole of play is usually provided by the golf course.

5. Decide the Tournament Fee – for participants as well as for sponsors that will cover event charges in addition to donations, if it is a fundraising event.

6. Create a Planning Folder – and include sections for participants, sponsors, food vending, prizes, accounting; tournament format, handicapping systems, the signup process, design of invitations, advertising, etc. and the budget. Free online event planning tools can help you stay organized.

7. Engage a Graphic Artist – to design a tournament logo for your event to be used in advertising, on signs, trophies and memorabilia.

8. Shop for Trophies, Memorabilia and Signs – as far in advance as possible.

● Design customized trophies and plaques for the event winner, female and male winners of specialty challenges and other recognition

● Consider thank you gifts for key volunteers and their teams

● Create t-shirts, other promotional items and memorabilia

● Design signs for sponsor holes, getting permission to use sponsor logos, etc.

9. Develop a Media Kit – promoting the golf tournament and send it to radio, television, newspaper and online media outlets.

● Include fliers, registration forms, images, contact names and tchotchkes, if applicable

● Include the golf course, food vendors and other groups in the mailing, either digital, mail or both.

● Post to social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as well as niche social networks

● If a charity is organizing the golf event, consider using Kickstarter to help with fundraising

10. Keep Track of Participants – and payments as they sign up. Typically, four players make a team. Individual participants can be paired with other single players or teams in need of players. Finalize orders for trophies, prizes and memorabilia based on the final registration numbers. Teams can keep track of their scores. Tally the totals and award prizes to the top teams after the meal.

11. Assign Team Starting Positions – for a Shotgun start, which allows for every participant to start the tournament at the same time on each of the 18 holes.

12. Collect Auctions Items – to increase the total amount of money collected for a fundraising event. Purchase a large roll of tickets to use to raffle off the auction items, an easy way to divide monies the from ticket sales with 50% going to the raffle winner and the rest toward the event

On Event Day – set up for the tournament early, scheduling teams of volunteers and other event workers.

● Have a registration table for participants to sign in and purchase tickets

● Set up a table for auction items with a place for participants to put tickets

● Hang signs at entrance, sponsor holes, food and eating areas, etc.

● Have plenty of water available for participants and volunteers

● Enjoy yourself!

Best Tip for the Digital World: Assign someone to take pictures of the event, which can be posted on social media pages, included in thank you notes and used for next year’s publicity.