There are a lot of reasons why some golf events are more successful than others, but the most important reason is this: Successful golf events keep players AND sponsors coming back year after year.
So, how do you do you achieve this player/sponsor retention? First of all, it's extremely important to give your players a great tournament day experience. Some of the most important details are:
1. Having informed and friendly volunteers- having informed and personable volunteers makes registration and play easy, and having clueless volunteers (or not enough volunteers) can lead to frustration and confusion. When it comes to volunteers, communication and training is key. Do not skip over this important step of planning.
2. Keeping the tournament fast-paced and organized- Golf is a slow paced sport, but that does not mean that people want to waste hours on slow shots, mulligans, and string shots. Keep the tournament fast paced and fun by picking the right golf format and keeping things organized. (See our blog post Picking a Golf Tournament Format)
3. Showing appreciation of your players through gifts and prizes- Gifts and prizes are another step of planning that should not be overlooked. Departure gifts will keep you in your players mind when they leave the tournament, and welcome gifts will make the players feel special and appreciated. There is no replacement for a classic and carefully thought out gift for your players, and it is worth the extra investment.
4. Cultivating a fun atmosphere- Gifts and prizes are an important aspect of a successful event, but nothing will be a better advertisement for next years tournament then making THIS years tournament the place to be. Fun contests, a professional feel, and a great atmosphere is what your players will remember when deciding which tournaments to attend next year.
As far as sponsors go, the key to getting them to return year after year is getting them involved in your cause. If your tournament is for a non-profit, this means allowing the sponsors to meet some of the people they are directly benefiting with their sponsorship. If it is for a corporate event, talk to the sponsor about what his support is achieving and how important they are to you and your company. Don't forget that sponsors are also at your event for exposure, so make sure they get time to talk to the players and meet as many people as possible. As the tournament organizer, it is up to you to make sure connections are being made and that people are being given what they have been promised.
Another important part of retaining players and sponsors is having a memorable awards ceremony that is inclusive and fun. The awards ceremony is how you wrap up the night, and highlight the purpose of the tournament. The mood of the awards ceremony is the mood that the players will leave with at the end of the night, so make it full of fun speeches, great prizes, and delicious food. (See our blog post: End Your Day With A Golf Tournament Awards Ceremony).
The key to a successful golf tournament is that once someone takes interest in your event, you KEEP their interest and grow it to the point that they share their experience with friends, family, and coworkers. Don't lose your players and sponsors once you have gotten them involved. This is the way your tournament can grow every year and develop the strong image you are looking for!