Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

June 17 2014

Golf Tourney Primer

Brad Plumb, CMP, Senior Sales Manager, Overland Park Convention Bureau

Hosting a golf tournament can be a great experience. The event connects golfers and non-golfers alike and culminates in an unforgettable day of fun. The organizers must have an appreciation for the game--not only how it’s played, but also the etiquette of the sport and the club rules. For the beginning planner there is a lot of research material on the internet. Here are some of the basics:

  • Give yourself plenty of time to plan. Numerous sources say that 6 months is a fair amount of time to start checking items off the list. Tom Holden, former Executive Director of the Greater KC Hotel Lodging Association, has planned more than 30 tournaments. Tom says, “I like to have a year or more, especially to raise sponsor dollars. Nothing beats a good committee and an early start." Set a date and a rain date backup. In Kansas City, April, May, September and October are prime months that get booked fast. Better deals can be found from mid-July to mid-August. Since there are numerous aspects to planning a golf tournament, consider separate committees for sponsorship, advertising and promotion, prizes and trophies, food, and onsite management. Work with the course management. They know what works for their facility and are vitally interested in your success.
  • Choose the right golf course. Not only does their staff need to be accommodating, but it is important that the facilities and clubhouse meet the needs for any function you might have beforehand as well as for a luncheon or an awards presentation. What is included in their contract?  Little things like extra ice can be a big discussion point on the day of the event if it’s not in the contract. Find out how many golfers they will allow on the course. Will you have foursomes that might be new to the sport? How will the course marshal handle stragglers? How many hours do you have to complete the tournament before the course is opened to other players? 
  • Will you have sponsors? If you plan to have the event underwritten, have a clear idea of what you are going to charge and what you plan to net after expenses. There are numerous good ideas on how to get sponsors involved. Many supplier organizations find this to be a terrific interactive form of client involvement. Lining up sponsor dollars can be as important as finding players and should be the first task after setting the date. Make sure that sponsor expectations are clearly understood long before the day of the event. Do you have sponsors that would like to be positioned on the course? What restrictions or concerns might that bring up with course management? There are numerous internet sites that describe side games and golf bets. About.com (in their golf section) lists 202 tournament games and bets in detail on their site. Games can add a fun dimension to the day but can also slow down play.
  • Regarding expectations, are you charging a fee for the golfers to participate? What do they plan to receive for their investment? Perhaps more than any other amateur sporting event, golf tournaments have more freebies and door prizes than any other. Golf hats and gloves and balls and shirts and towels and tees and sunscreen packets and bottled water, are just some of the many items that golfers have come to anticipate receiving. Great food and amenities will bring back players for future years.


Make it easy for participants to sign up. Golf Digest says that they see a significant increase in player and sponsor participation in tournaments that offer the ability to pay online by credit card. 

Make sure that player pairings are identified ahead of time and given to the course pro at least 2 days before the event. Discuss in advance what tournament format (scramble, best ball, alt. shot, etc.) best suits the needs and expertise of your players. Have a handicapping system worked out ahead of time to equalize player’s abilities. Work with the pro to determine the starting order of the teams and what hole they will be assigned to. 

Before the event, each player must know some of the basics in order that everyone has a good experience. It is important to spell out golf etiquette, dress code, tipping, equipment, tee time (on time!), course care, and safety. Never assume that your participants know their way around the frog hair.

Everybody loves the excitement of a great golf tournament. The success of the event goes far beyond the weather that day or how well a player performed. Having an atmosphere of fun, along with great food and prizes will have players and sponsors ready to sign up for next year’s event before they leave the clubhouse. 

Lastly, don't forget our OWN upcoming tournament! Click here to register.

Hit the links with your industry friends!
Thursday, August 7th
Deer Creek Golf Club 
Overland Park, KS
Registration 7:00 am
Play begins at 8:00 am