Golf Tournament Planning 101

First Things First

Article #2 in a series on Golf Tournament Planning

By: Judy Knelly, Special Events Coordinator, Sugarloaf Golf Club Inc Expert Author,

Your Goals: RAISE MONEY, get organized, choose committees, gather information

Before you schedule your first official meeting you will need to do some homework. A little planning can start you off on the right foot and clearly define the contributions you expect from your committee members. I recommend putting your goals on paper and giving your volunteers a preliminary outline of your strategy. It might look something like this:

Tournament Planning Outline

  1. Select Committees
    1. Sponsorship committee – charged with determining sponsorship opportunities, preparing sponsorship letter, distributing letter to all volunteers, obtaining a large prize & insurance (if desired), collecting sponsorships & gifts-in-kind, follow up calls, signage, post-tournament sponsor thank you letter, assisting event committee with distributing event flyers, finding golfers & participating in day-of-event volunteer needs.
    2. Event Committee – charged with preparing & distributing event flyers, signing up golfers, pre-tournament press releases, photos & post-tournament press release, obtaining small gifts or tee shirts as handouts to golfers, setting up volunteers for tournament prep, registration and “spotting” on holes for on-course contests, sending thank you notes to golfers & assisting sponsorship committee with obtaining sponsors, door prizes and gifts.
    3. Communication is key!
      1. Two committee chairs act as Secretary & Treasurer for event. Treasurer collects all donations & entry fees, pays all expenses and prepares reconciliation for final tournament meeting after the event. Secretary prepares email list and communicates with all volunteers regarding progress of entries & sponsorship and coordinates press releases.
      2. Email list – all committee members should be kept abreast of progress with a weekly email. All updates & information should be directed to you as (tournament chair) and you will send weekly email updates to all volunteers.
      3. Select golf course and date

This outline should really help get everyone off on the right track. Volunteers are usually excited to be a part of a fundraising event and getting them organized at the early planning stages is key (we’ll talk about keeping volunteers motivated in a later installment). You will need to select your chairpersons carefully. Probably the best advice is to look for organized people with lots of contacts. You should also make sure your volunteers have something to offer besides manning a registration table. Make sure they are willing to talk your tournament up to neighbors, relatives and coworkers. They shouldn’t be timid about asking everyone they know for sponsorships, donations and players! They should be available to attend planning meetings and help during crunch time the last two weeks leading up to the tournament. Remember…..

Your Committee & Volunteer Goals:


The last task you should do before your preliminary meeting is to contact several golf courses. Here are some things to consider:

  1. What will our golfers be willing to pay for an entry fee? Green fee & cart packages can vary substantially between weekdays and weekends. Ask the courses if the offer packages or discounts for off-peak times.
  2. Will you have lunch, beverages, prizes & an awards banquet? Ask for those prices.
  3. What dates are you considering? Ask the course for several options if you aren’t tied into a specific date.
  4. What services does the course provide? What additional charges can you expect? Many courses offer comprehensive planning assistance and others don’t. Be careful ~ some courses charge for ancillary services such as scorekeeping and facility fees for banquet rooms.
  5. Be specific. Communicating your needs and expectations with the golf course event planner is important.

Once you have gathered this information, you should narrow the choices to two or three courses based on which fit your needs the best. I would urge you to read all the articles in this Tournament Planning series BEFORE you have your first meeting. Future articles will cover topics such as how to choose a venue how to keep volunteers motivated, and how to secure & retain sponsors.

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