Charity Golf Tournament Planning Tips

Charity golf tournaments are major money-makers. They bring serious golfers and serious philanthropists together for a cause, and they can be absolute game-changers for nonprofits. And, as a bonus, they generally require less time and effort to plan than your average charity gala! But how does charity golf tournament planning work? Can you pull it off even if you’re not a golfer? What are the key things you need to consider for an event like this?

Mightycause has got everything you need to know to get started on your charity golf tournament. Read on and find out how to tee your golf tourney up for fundraising success!

gif of cast of fresh prince of bel air dancing on a golf course

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How do charity golf tournaments work?

Understanding how charity golf tournaments operate can be a challenge if you’re not a golfer. It’s best to involve some folks with golf tournament experience in the planning process, but here are the basics.

You’ll team up with a golf course and set up registration for the tournament. For charity golf tournaments on Mightycause, you’ll want to create an Event page, where golfers can register to participate. Golf tournaments generally always have registration fees to help cover “green fees,” the cost of playing the course (usually sold as a single or a foursome), and Mightycause’s Event fundraising platform allows you to collect those fees. (You can often also buy raffle tickets or “mulligans,” which is an extra stroke after a bad shot, upfront too.) On Mightycause, participating golfers can raise money on their own, or as part of a team. You’ll need to decide whether you’d like to raise money for a single cause, or allow golfers to choose their own. Leading up to the event, they will ask for donations from family members, friends, colleagues, and so on to support them as they golf for a cause.

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Charity Golf Tournament Formats

Golf is a pretty slow sport, and there are a lot of different ways you can structure the actual golf portion of your event. This is where the guidance of golf course employees, board members who’ve played a lot of golf, and volunteers familiar with the game will come in handy! Here are a few of the most common ways to play a charity golf tournament:

  • Stroke Play: This is the format most golfers (and casual fans) are most familiar with. In stroke play, players are scored by the numbers of strokes they take. This is what you’ll see in the LPGA and PGA Tours. Better, more experienced players tend to prefer this format, but it can be a little slower for audiences and harder for beginner golfers.
  • Match Play: In match play, you don’t score individual players, but teams of players. The team who wins the most holes wins.
  • Best Ball: This is a more approachable format for beginner and intermediate golfers. In a Best Ball event, each player plays the whole round, and you score using their best scores. (Usually their best 3 or 4 scores.) With a Best Ball event, you’d also score using a “handicap,” which is a numerical representation of a golfer’s ability and experience, making Best Ball a more balanced event that’s open to more golfers.
  • Scramble: Like Best Ball events, Scramble events are better for less experienced golfers. In a Scramble, everyone hits their drives off the tee, then you pick the best shot and hit again from there. And then you continue this until the ball is in the hole!

Your format will go a long way in determining who ends up participating in your charity golf tournament. So, consider what you’re hoping to achieve with the event! Do you want to cast as wide a net as possible and attract more golfers? Or, do you want to host an event for serious golfers?

Charity Golf Tournament Planning Tips

If you’ve never done it before, planning a charity golf tournament can be intimidating. But don’t worry! With these tips, you’ll be able to plan a fun and engaging tournament that raises lots of green for your cause!

gif of bill murray hitting flowers with a golf club

1. Choose your golf course carefully

The most important partnership in a charity golf tournament is the one between the host and the golf course. So, do your research and find a golf course that is as excited about your event as you are!

Golf is obviously a seasonal sport, but be flexible — sometimes golf courses will be much more willing to work with you during the off-season and will allow you to host your event for a lower cost. (You can recoup your expenses in registration fees, but you want to secure the best price you can.) Talk to the staff and find out how much experience they have with charity golf tournaments, and if they are willing and able to provide staff help during the event.

Another thing you’ll want to consider is course difficulty. If you’re hoping to create an event that will attract golfers of all skill levels, you’ll want to choose a course that’s on the easier side. And, conversely, if you’re crafting an event for serious golfers, you’ll want a more challenging course.

2. Pay special attention to prizes and tee gifts

Everyone loves swag at events, of course. But golfers expect prizes and swag at charity golf tournaments. They’re part of the culture of golf tournaments.

gif of rodney dangerfield dancing on a golf course in caddyshack

So, making these an afterthought is a huge faux pas! You’ll want to offer the following items:

  • Welcome Bag: This will go to everyone who registered and participates in the event.
    • T-shirt and/or hat or visor with your tournament’s logo. (Note: This is also great free advertising for your event, and a great place to put your higher-tier sponsors’ logos.)
    • Goodie bag. You can offer to slip info or coupons from sponsors into the goodie bag as an incentive. Things like pens, pins, and little knickknacks are perfect for goodie bags!
    • Drinks and snacks. These can be shoved into the Goodie bags as well — a reusable water bottle with your tournament’s logo is a great option, and a granola bar and/or some mixed nuts can make for a wholesome mid-day snack.
    • Sunscreen.
    • Sleeve of golf balls.
  • Team/Player PrizesThese are “big cheese” prizes golfers will be competing for at your event. You don’t need to break the bank with these, but you’ll attract more golfers with better prizes, so make sure they are meaningful! Trophies, cash prizes, golf clubs, and gift certificates can all make excellent prizes for the winning participants. (And, better yet, they’re things you can work with sponsors to provide.)

Now, don’t blow your whole budget on swag and prizes. To keep your costs low, you should make every attempt to have prizes donated or provided by sponsors. Prizes like iPads and Kindles are very common (and golfers who do lots of tournaments probably already have a cache of them at home) so the more creative you can get with your prizes, the better!

3. Add interest with additional activities and prizes

So, no offense to golfers, but golf can be… a little slow, as a sport. When you’re planning a golf tournament, make sure you keep things lively with some bonus contests and events.

Mini-events like putting contests, longest drive contests, and beginner’s drive contests can break up the event, add excitement and help you cultivate a fun atmosphere. Auctions can also be a way to liven up a golf tournament (while bringing in extra revenue for the nonprofit and presenting another great way to engage sponsors).

groundhog from caddyshack dancing

And don’t forget about raffles and door prizes! Call the winners toward the end of the tournament to ensure people stick around.

4. Work with sponsors at every possible point

Golf tournaments can be massive money-makers, as we’ve already mentioned. But their costs can also be a little higher than your average fundraising event. That’s the bad news. The good news is that they are excellent opportunities to engage sponsors, and you’ll have tons of opportunities to loop sponsors into your event.

A Field Guide to Event Sponsors

Our Field Guide to Event Sponsors covers the nitty gritty of securing sponsorships, but you’ll want to start those conversations early and make sponsorships a cornerstone of your charity golf tournament. Don’t pay for services and items related to your event, if you don’t have to! Have them sponsored or donated instead. Working hard to secure sponsorships will ensure that your charity golf tournament brings in revenue instead of being a huge expense.

Provide a variety of sponsorship opportunities

Don’t limit your sponsors to only one type of sponsorship! Give them lots of diverse options to get involved in your charity golf tournament. Some sponsors may want to give a lump sum and sponsor the entire event, while others may prefer to sponsor a hole on the course or provide a prize. Allow for all of these scenarios, and make sure to leave some room for custom sponsorship arrangements (like providing food, swag, or other items).

Recognize your sponsors on your Mightycause Event page

Recognizing sponsors is built into the fabric of Events on Mightycause. You can add your different sponsor tiers, add your sponsor’s logo, and link to their website.

sample event sponsor section for golf tournament
Sponsors for Louisville Story Program’s 2019 Write-a-Thon on Mightycause

Invite sponsors to enjoy the charity golf tournament for free

A nice olive branch to extend to sponsors is the ability to participate in the tournament for free! You’ll obviously want to limit this in some way (say, allowing your contact to attend for free, or five people from their company) but make sure your sponsors are able to enjoy the event and see their sponsorship dollars put to good use!

5. Be hospitable

Have we mentioned yet that golf tournaments are long? Well, they are. It’s a full day out in the sun, swinging clubs and playing the game. Even spectators will be tired by the end of the day. And with golf being the sort of thing that happens at places like country clubs… well, let’s just say that if your golfers show up and you provide them a PB&J in a plastic bag for breakfast and lunch, they might be a little miffed. Not to mention hungry!

gif of child having a tantrum on a golf course

So, when you’re planning your charity golf tournament, don’t get so hung up on the golf details that you forget the whole experience of the event! Work with sponsors and the golf course to provide breakfast for golfers, a substantial lunch, and a little reception with refreshments after the tournament is over. Try to anticipate your golfers’ needs throughout the day. Things like golf carts, accessible restrooms, drink stations, cooling towels, shaded areas to rest, are all things your golfers will appreciate. And those little touches will keep them coming back to your event, year after year.

Let Us Help You Build Your Charity Golf Tournament

Do you have a tournament coming up, or want to talk through the possibility of hosting one? We’re here to help!

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Learn More About Event Fundraising on Mightycause

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Want even more help planning your next fundraising event? Look no further than the Event Fundraising Handbook. This free, comprehensive guide takes you through every step of the event planning process, with checklists and worksheets to keep you organized.

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