Choosing your golf course should be high on your list of priorities early in your planning. You will need to consider your golfers' budgets. But price is not the only determining factor in your selection. Is the course challenging, yet fair? Is it known for being in excellent condition? Do they host several tournaments and have the resources to help make your event successful? Is the staff friendly, yet professional? Do they have facilities for your banquet? You will most likely approach several of your local facilities. When you contact the courses, ask if they have an in-house event planner. It's always helpful to have one person who will be your course contact. When a question arises, you'll want to have a decision-maker available. During your initial contact, ask for a cell phone number and an email address.
The golf course personnel will need to know your preferred date (s), the number of golfers you anticipate, your format (shotgun start or tee times), your program for the day (breakfast, lunch, refreshments during registration, dinner). You do not need to have all the details of the day planned for this initial meeting, but the more information you can give, the better understanding the staff will have of your goals and needs. Remember that most course event planners have had several years of experience with tournaments and can be a wealth of ideas & information that will help your event flow smoothly and without incident. You will want to have an estimated budget for what you expect the course to provide and be clear about your needs … do not forget beverages, lunch, prizes. Some courses will be willing to provide all-inclusive package prices while others will provide ala carte pricing. Do not forget to ask about fees for calculating scores, renting banquet facilities or service charges and tax. Ask if the course requires a deposit. This will need to be addressed in your planning. Are you required to sign a contract or will the course pout their pricing on paper?
Ask the course representative what services they offer that may set them apart from other courses. Do they offer discounts on pro shop purchases, coupons for return visits, rounds of golf for prizes? Are they willing to make a donation to your charity or sponsor a prize? Can they offer any assistance in your marketing? This can have a HUGE impact on your tournament! Do they have a website, online tournament planning or registration, social networking accounts (Facebook & twitter) or email lists for tournament players? Remember, most event planners have a vested interest in your success!
Many planners can also help you with signage and contest ideas. It's a good idea to discuss this several months before the event as some custom logo and special order items may be needed for the contests. Today, there are many ways that special on-course contests can involve the golfers in creative ways and add much needed $$$ to your donations.
Some of the easier contests for volunteers to assist with are:
Closest to the Pin, Longest Drive & Most Accurate Tee Shot & Skins
Beat the Pro
Pot of Gold
Raffles, Door Prizes & 50/50 Drawings
Silent & Live Auctions
In addition, there are several unique ideas that a good planner can help you arrange. But remember … the course will need advance notice of most of these contests which may require extra volunteers tables, tables at the putting green or driving range, signage, measuring devices, volunteer carts, etc.
Ask if your course can provide sponsor signs. Some courses will print your sponsor ads and provide low cost tee signs. This can be an affordable option to having signs professionally printed.
Consider your golf course your partner. With an organized staff dedicated to serving your tournament's needs, your golf course can be a huge part of your success!