Choosing the right golf course for your event is a big decision. Pick the right course and you’re well on your way to a successful golf tournament.
Golfers will remember your event in part by their experience on the course. If your golfers enjoy playing on a course, they will be happy to come back to your event year after year.
Follow these three steps to find a course that’s perfect for your event.
Step 1. Give Yourself Time to Make a Decision
Begin your golf course search early. It will take time to look at potential courses, talk to their management, and get your questions answered. Plan to negotiate your deal with course management at least six months in advance.
Don’t limit your search too quickly. Start with several possible course options. It’s easier to make the decision when you can compare the pros and cons of several courses against one another.
Next, approach each potential golf course and ask for a proposal. Get at least three proposals to compare. Let the course know your event needs (reception space, catered food, etc.) and weigh the pros and cons of each option.
Step 2. Weigh the Pros and Cons of Each Course
Now that you have several options to choose from, you can make a list of the pros and cons of each course. Take the time to type up or write out an actual pros and cons list for each course, then compare. This will help you make an objective decision that will lead to both a successful tournament and happy golfers.
Consider these factors when looking for a golf course:
1. How far will golfers have to travel to attend the event?
Are you expecting participants to be primarily local golfers, golfers from outside your region, or golfers from out of state? Look at where is the course located. Is it within your city, in the suburbs, or further afield? Notice if it’s centrally located to where most of your participants will be coming from. If golfers will be traveling in for your event, is the course reasonably accessible from an airport or major highway?
2. What is the average skill level of the golfers?
Not all golfers are created equal. Will the golfers participating in your event generally be competitive players or recreational players? Choosing a particularly difficult course could be a turnoff for recreational players, yet more competitive players may consider such an event course a fun challenge. You can see how the course difficulty of your options compare by consulting the National Course Ratings Database of the United States Golf Association.
3. Do you or other members of your planning committee have any ties to a golf course owner or manager that could help you negotiate a good price?
When you’re planning a big event, networking and relationships can be crucial. Once you have your choice narrowed down to a few possibilities, ask your network if they have any contacts at these potential courses. Your event marketing chair may have brought a manager or owner new business and is now in a good position to negotiate for a discounted event price. You won’t know if you don’t ask.
4. Does the golf course offer adequate space for a dinner/awards ceremony afterward?
Few successful golf events begin and end on the fairway. While course play is enjoyable, participants will remember dinner receptions, conversations with new friends, special guest speakers, and awards ceremonies. Your course choice should have facilities that can accommodate these activities after your event.
5. Does the tournament entry fee correlate with the price to use the golf course?
You should think about your golf course event like a business. You don’t want your expenses to outpace your revenue. Choosing an expensive course will likely affect your entry fee, which in turn may mean more work on your part to market the event to potential participants. Choosing a cheaper, underwhelming course may be an equally hard sell to potential golfers.
6. Would your golfers feel more comfortable at a public or private golf course?
Your golfers may jump at the opportunity to play on a particularly exclusive private golf course. Or, they may enjoy a day at a less stuffy, more community accessible course. There’s no right answer here. It’s just a matter of what course your golfers will enjoy most.
Step 3. Pick a Date that Works for Your Course
Once you’ve found a golf course you must decide when to hold your event. Even the most perfect golf course has a time of year that is unsuitable for a golf tournament event. January may be a great time for a Phoenix area golf course event, no so much for the upper midwest. So consider your location when choosing the season for your event.
The time of year and day of the week will also dictate the course price.
Course rates are highest during the months that offer the best weather and lowest during the months that offer the worst weather.
Your best value is found during the “shoulder season.” This is the time between the peak season and off season when the weather is less predictable and activity at the course is slow.
The day of the week is just as important a choice as the time of year.
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are the busiest days for a golf course, so costs will be the highest on these days. The best rates are offered Monday through Thursday.
Lastly, keep in mind that most private golf clubs are closed to members on Mondays. These clubs will often host public golf events on those days. Most private courses will require that you get a referral from an existing member to gain access to the golf course for your event.
Now You’re Ready to Make Your Decision
Choosing the right golf course for your golf event is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in the course of planning your event. Give yourself time to evaluate your options, compare the pros and cons of at least three courses, and keep the season and event date in mind.
A great course will make for a successful golf course event and have your participants coming back year after year.
Visit www.golfdigestplanner.com to find a golf course near you.