If you are planning a tournament in the Fall or Winter, don’t be discouraged by the cold weather.  A chill in the air can be a great opportunity for your players to experience unique interactions on and off the course.  Here are some simple suggestions that players, sponsors and volunteers will enjoy.

  • Ask a course pro to donate some time prior to tee off.  A quick pass down the driving range line will give each player the opportunity to get a simple swing or strategy tip.  The pro might also gain new students.
  • It can be downright cold in certain climates – especially with an early starting time.  Consider setting up a warming station on a couple tee boxes (perhaps those that have a history of long waits).  You might want to offer hot coffee, tea, cider or cocoa.  With permission, the course may allow you to operate a portable enclosed fire pit.  Bring a smile and cheer to each golfer as they pass through.
  • Don’t forget that golfers will work up an appetite while playing in cooler temperatures.  Consider providing hearty season-specific snacks.  Invite a local bakery to sponsor your event with a table full of Fall favorites such as miniature apple pies and pumpkin muffins.
  • Be creative with hole contests.  One tournament planner held a “Drive the Pumpkin” contest where scramble players could try to hit a pumpkin with their tee shot in order to win an automatic one-putt.  Another event featured a “Mitten Putt” where each player had to wear a pair of winter mittens while putting on one of the greens.

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Share your ideas with other tournament planners.

What types of special events, contests and prizes have you provided at your Fall or Winter tournaments?


A golf tournament is an excellent way to bring people together for entertainment and networking.  Whether you’re raising money for a charity or simply thanking clients and employees, a golf tournament is sure to provide quality time for all participants .

Unfortunately, non-golfers who are involved in the tournament planning are inadvertently left out of the golf-specific aspect of the event.  Although they are normally happy to volunteer and attend luncheons and award dinners, they are missing out on the key ingredient – the game itself.

Here are a few examples of how you might be able to draw more non-golfer interest in your event.

Offer Group Instruction

Many non-golfers are interested in learning how to play the game, but won’t necessarily initiate the instruction process on their own.  It is very simple to set up group instruction during the course of tournament play.  Many golf pros are happy to offer either a free or drastically reduced rate for one-time groups because it gives them the opportunity to enroll the participants in follow up private instruction after the event.  You might consider structuring the clinic into three sessions – 1) Etiquette, Basic Rules & Golf Lingo, 2) Short Game, 3) Long Game.  Each session could easily last for one hour with a few breaks in between.  This would take up at least 3/4 of the time the golfers are out on the course.  This type of set up is a great introduction to the game and might convert non-golfers into golfers who will play in future events.  You could offer the group instruction for free or make it an option for the entry fee.

Train Volunteers as Caddies

One of the best ways to learn about the game is to see it in action.  Consider offering a caddy as an upgrade option on your entry fee.  This works best for smaller tournament fields as well as nine-hole tournaments.  Volunteer caddies could be trained in basic responsibilities in as little as 30 minutes.  This is a unique and fun way to get everyone directly involved in tournament play.

Set Up a Putting Course

There’s no reason why you can’t set up a tournament within a tournament.  While the golfers are out playing on the full course, the non-golfers can compete in a 9-hole or 18-hole putting tournament.  This is a great way to introduce them to most important stroke in golf.  Consider offering prizes or awards just as you would for the full tournament winners.  The first place winner could be awarded the opportunity to attempt a Putt Fore Cash from 40, 50 or 60 feet to win up to $25,000.  It is best set up as a “grandstand event” which means that everyone gathers around to watch the attempt immediately following tournament play.

Not sure about a person’s character?  Considering a personal or business relationship with a new acquaintance?

Instead of spending money on a background check, pay for a greens fee instead.

Here’s Why…

#1 – An 18-hole round of golf averages four to five hours of focused time.  How often do you get so much uninterrupted time with a person?

#2 – Each player is solely responsible for their decisions and strategy.  You can witness a person’s ability to plan ahead and react under pressure.

#3 – At some point, each golfer must interact with other players – turn-taking, waiting for slower players, etc.  Attention and patience are a must.

#4 – Each player is solely responsible for their own score-keeping and penalty application (no referees) .  A sure-fire way to determine whether or not a person values integrity.

#5 – No matter how experienced a golfer is, they are bound to have a bad shot, hole or round.  Their reaction is a hint about how they function when things don’t go according to plan.

There are a plethora of reasons for why a game of golf is an exceptional method of determining personality, values, passion and ethics.   Next time you want to know more about someone, invite them to links.  Perhaps you will be surprised by what you see.

Dear Clint Eastwood

Dear Clint Eastwood,

The year was 1995 (the same year you released The Bridges of Madison County).   You were practicing your bump and run shot on the practice green at Monterey Peninsula Country Club in Pebble Beach, CA.  I was stationed at the opposite side of that same practice green, anxious to improve my short game after having played a less-than-stellar first round in a girls’ junior golf tournament.

My 15-year-old playing partner was the first to notice you and as I’m sure you remember, women, teenage girls and grown men alike began to quietly giggle and whisper.  I was sixteen at the time and I admit, the only thing that came to my mind was, “Go ahead, make my day.”  To my surprise, you began to walk in my direction which sent my friend into a panic-stricken jog towards the nearest bush.

It was just me, my 7-iron and you, Mr. Eastwood.  When you casually remarked, “You’re pretty good at that…”, I wasn’t sure if you were commenting on my chipping stroke or my amazing ability to stare at you like a deer in headlights.  Thankfully, I snapped out of it and realized you were kind enough to break the awkward silence by asking for some chipping pointers.  I have to say, it all got pretty blurry at that moment.  I remember mentioning something about keeping your hands ahead of the club face past impact and something else about feeling like you’re putting even though you were using a wedge.  Whatever I said, you seemed to appreciate it whether you needed the golf tips or not.

Thankfully, I didn’t quote a famous line from one of your movies or tell you that you looked a lot older in person.  I didn’t even ask you for your autograph.  (Somehow it ended up on the backside of my tournament player rules sheet.  Just in case you were worried, I ended up laminating and saving it all these years).

Interestingly enough, I became a golf teacher a few years down the road and you made a few more movies.  It’s unlikely that our paths will ever cross again, Mr. Eastwood, but if you ever read this, I just want to say thanks for being so approachable, gracious and generous.

One more thing – don’t forget to lead with your hands.


A Now, 30-Something Fan

Why We Love Golf

Golf, to the uninitiated, is a silly sport. Hitting a white ball around a field with clubs for 5 hours at a time, 6 if you get behind a slow foursome or an elephant hunt (a group with 5 or more golfers), is a waste of time to most people.  Unless, of course, you have ever played the game and sunk a 40 foot putt, or hit the ball just right, sending it on its way 275 yards down the middle of the fairway.   That one shot, standing alone in the middle of the fairway, 150 yards away (a football field and another half of a football field) you, a club, and that white ball.  Then a swing, contact and the ball is off, flying towards the pin, landing on the green and nestling up to the pin — followed by elation and accomplishment.

People who watch golf do so for the very reason I described.  It is a pressure-filled experience playing with buddies at a local course just for fun.  Golf lovers can’t comprehend what it must be like playing in a Major Championship, with millions of dollars on the line, with millions of people watching.  Winning a major is about cementing your place in golf history.

This last weekend the British Open was held and was won by a Northern Irish golfer named Darren Clarke.  He was a natural fan favorite because he was from that part of the world and because he has overcome tremendous adversity to climb the golf mountain that winning the British Open is.  Clarke almost gave up golf many times in the last 5 years.  In a game where a bounce or a break can determine the winner, Clarke’s life was in constant turmoil.

The father of two young boys lost his wife to breast cancer years ago.  The pain of that loss on him was almost too much for him to overcome.  He didn’t want to invest the time and effort it took to practice and prepare to play golf.   He didn’t need the pressure of standing alone in the middle of a fairway needing to hit a perfect shot to win.

Darren didn’t give up.  He persevered.  He practiced.  He put his life back together and moved past the pain and turmoil.  This last weekend we saw this man overcome adversity to climb the golf mountain and be the last man standing at the British Open!

Darren Clarke Wins the Open Championship

People watch golf, not simply for the competition, but to see people battle.  Golf is a great metaphor for the ups and downs that life brings.  We all stand in the middle of life’s fairway, 150 yards away from the flag, needing to hit the perfect shot to win.  We reach down into our intestinal fortitude, come up with a little something extra, swing and hit the problem in front of us flush, sending it towards our goal.  We watch, with elation, as our problem lands on the green, nestling close to our target, and at that moment we realize it is all within our reach.

It’s those moments that make life worth living.

Golf tournament fundraising success is directly tied to the personal interaction of sponsors and players on the day of the event.  One key responsibility of a tournament coordinator is to present opportunities for sponsors to mingle with potential clients – the players!  Tournament brochures, signs, banners and logo tee prizes are all important elements of sponsor recognition, however nothing is better than face time.  When determining sponsorship levels, consider including the opportunity for each sponsor to set up a marketing station at each tee box.  They will be able to interact with players as they are waiting to tee off.  Creative sponsors will hold fun contests to pass time (such as trash can chip shots or basketball shots) as well as handout marketing materials.  Rather than distributing all player gifts at registration, consider allowing each sponsor to pass out their gift on the course.  This will create a meaningful connection between the sponsors and players as well as keep players excited about what is waiting for them on the next tee box.  When tournament coordinators provide sponsors with personal access, the sponsors will reap direct benefits which will encourage them to support the tournament year after year.

Why Not Shamble?

Looking to switch up your next golf tournament playing format?  How about a Shamble?

The Shamble format is a combination of a scramble and stroke play.

As in a scramble format, everyone on the team tees off and the best shot is selected.  All players move their golf balls to the the position of the best tee shot. Instead of continuing on with the scramble format, the hole is completed with stroke play.  Each player completes the hole with their own ball.

In summary, select the best shot off the tee, move all the golf balls to that spot, then play individual stroke play until each member of the group has holed out.

Be sure to use full handicaps when playing the shamble format to make sure every player feels like they are contributing to the team score.  Check with your golf pro regarding scoring ideas.