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Golf Tournament Marketing: How to Launch Your Golf Event

Golf tournament marketing is the best way to recruit players and sponsors. How you launch and market your event will determine its success. Here is the correct sequence for launching and marketing your event:

  1. Set up your committees
  2. Identify your financial goals
  3. Develop your sponsorship packages
  4. Determine the player costs
  5. Set up your event website
  6. GO!

Set Up Your Committees

1. The Role of Committees

Committees help you organize and execute a successful event. Depending on the size of your event, you may have one large committee or several smaller committees.

The basic committee assignments include:

  1. Marketing (including Soliciting Players and Sponsors)
  2. Event Day Activities
  3. Food and Beverage
  4. Auction Items
  5. Logistics (including parking)
  6. Finance

An understanding of your organization and a commitment to your cause are important criterion to consider when choosing committee members. Passion and a strong belief in the event will bring energy to your volunteer and solidify their commitment to the role. Your tournament committee should be made up of motivated individuals who have more than a casual interest in your cause.

Here Are Some Tips For Working With Committees: 

  1. Seek out business people who have contacts outside of your organization’s network: this will help to secure more sponsorships.
  2. Be selective when assembling your committee. Don’t accept every applicant. Choose your committee based on their network of contacts, and past experience with charitable organizations.
  3. Before accepting an application, tell prospective members so that they stay informed and have their opinions matter.
  4. Search for committee members from amongst your board and your supporters, employees and suppliers.
  5. Ask your board members and supporters to suggest potential committee members.
  6. Identify committee members with specific talents and assign them roles supported by those talents. For example, a marketing person is well suited for soliciting players and sponsors, and an accountant or banker can handle finances.
  7. Assign specific committee members specific tasks, and ask them to report their results regularly.
  8. Create a schedule for committee meetings well in advance. Prepare detailed agendas and distribute them before each meeting.

Setting Your Fundraising Goals

Remember, “net” revenue is the money that remains after all event expenses have been paid.

Revenue from an event is raised in several ways:

  1. Players pay a registration fee to play in the event.
  2. Sponsors pay to participate in the event to increase their visibility and exposure to your golfers.
  3. Contests before, during and after the event can be used to raise additional funds.
  4. Holding a live or silent auction to raise additional funds.
  5. Organizing a fundraising dinner event prior to, or after the event will attract non-golfers who pay to attend and increase your profit.
  6. Print an event program and sell advertising space. (Note: This program should also be used to recruit players and sponsors for next year’s event.  Incorporate a pitch for next year even in the program and print more than you need. The extra copies cost much less to print than designing and printing a new brochure next year).

View our sample budgets.  Your budget may be different but should have similar categories.

Develop Your Sponsorship Packages

The majority of the revenue your event will generate comes from sponsors. Sponsors are businesses, organizations and individuals driven to your event because of the opportunity for increased exposure.

Why?

For several reasons:

  1. They want access and heightened exposure to players in your event who represent existing or potential  clients.
  2. The sponsor contributes to, or conducts business with, your organization and wants to show their support in a very visible way.
  3. The sponsor believes strongly in your cause and wants to support it.
  4. The sponsor wants to maintain a relationship with one of your committee members by supporting the event.

You can see sample sponsorship packages listed below, and more in the Golf Digest Planner resource center.

Important Tip:
Sponsors support your event in return for more visibility among existing or potential clients. Have high-quality banners and signs with the sponsors’ names at the event.  Display major sponsors’ logos on your website and in all printed materials. Most importantly, spell their names correctly if you expect them to come back next year!

In the pages that follow are a sponsor solicitation letter and several sample sponsorship opportunities from existing J. Ryder Group events.

Determine Your Player Cost

Player cost should cover the cost of the golf course, food and beverage and a player “Welcome Gift”.

Most events will take the total cost and multiply by 1.25 to determine an appropriate per player cost.

For example, Per Player Costs:

Golf Course Cost           $100
Food and Beverage        $ 20
Welcome Gift                 
$ 20_+

Total                              $140

Cost to Play                   $175 – $200

Important Notes:

  1. You can charge a premium for a great golf course.
  2. Most events budget 20 percent of the golf course cost for the player gift.

Set Up Your Event Website

A recent survey by Golf Digest Planner found that 82% of potential players and sponsors expect to register and pay online for an event.  In the age of the internet you will need an easy to use and attractive website.  

You can set up you website, including online registration and payment easily at www.GolfDigestPlanner.com.

The critical elements of your website should include:

  1. The mission statement for the event and information about your organization.
  2. Event information including date, times, costs and locations.
  3. Information on the golf course, including directions and a link to Google maps.
  4. Online registration with the ability to accept credit cards.
  5. A full description of event day activities including contests and events, auctions and meals.
  6. The ability to display sponsor logos on your home page.
  7. A link to send the event information to a friend via e-mail.

Finding Sponsors and Players for Your Event

The success of you event hinges on the number of players you can find, and in turn, the number of sponsors you can register.

First, set your player and sponsor recruitment objectives.

Set a target for the number of players you want (the average event in the U.S. has 120 players). Most courses handle 144 golfers for an event easily.

Based on information discussed earlier, you should have your sponsorship packages developed.

Important note: 50% of your golf player spots should be included in the sponsor packages. For example, your title sponsor may get two foursomes (8 golfers). This means you only need to sell 50% of your player spots to individuals.

Finding Sponsors:

  1. Your committee members should be responsible for generating a list of possible sponsors.  Ask each committee member to identify two potential sponsors and take responsibility for contacting them.
  2. Existing vendors are an excellent source for sponsors.
  3. As you add a sponsor, ask them for a referral to another sponsor.
  4. Hold a “Sponsor Lunch” 60-90 days before your event. Ask each committee member and secured sponsor to bring another potential sponsor. The “Sponsor Lunch” gives your organization the opportunity to tell its story.  This interaction is designed to establish an emotional connection with potential sponsors.  Sponsors who are invested emotionally in your cause are much more likely to buy a sponsorship.
  5. Bundle sponsorships with other scheduled events during the year. For example, offer a golf hole sponsorship to everyone who buys a table at your annual dinner and increase the cost accordingly to meet fundraising goals. Business people like bundled sponsorships.

Finding Players:

  1. Promote the event to your employees, supporters and suppliers.
  2. Use email to distribute a link to your website to promote your event quickly, and without the expense of printed brochures.
  3. Create a web effect by asking each email recipient to pass the invite along to other family, friends and clients.
  4. Include the event details in all organization publications and newsletters.
  5. Set up a link to the event website on your event homepage.
  6. Develop a press release for the local media.
  7. Hold an in-house incentive contest that rewards the department responsible for recruiting the most golfers.
  8. List your event in local newspaper event guides and golf event guides.
  9. Offer a referral incentive to golfers who register. Ask them to “bring a friend” for a free dozen golf balls.

Important Tip: Hold each committee member responsible for bringing in one foursome.