Making Sure You Have the Basics for your Tournament

Many of you are new to tournament planning, and are quickly realizing it can be an overwhelming task. There are a lot of rules, details, and activities that you need to keep track of, and sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. A great way to start is to figure out what the necessary basics are that make a tournament successful, and then add on year by year as you get more comfortable. Below are some tips on covering the basics for event organizers who don’t have a lot of experience, or maybe just don’t have a lot of time.

The first thing that is important to note is: New event organizers should not pass on creating sponsorship opportunities. The idea of getting sponsors may be overwhelming, but it is the single most important aspect of a successful golf tournament, and it is a process that you will want to start immediately so that you can cultivate it year after year. For your first year, we recommend starting with a comprehensive sponsor list that will be easy to add on to with time. Below is a suggestion:

(1) Title Sponsor

(1) Presenting Sponsor

(18) Hole Sponsors

(1) Shootout Sponsor

(1) Longest Drive Sponsor

(1) Closest to the Pin or Putting Contest Sponsor

Your title sponsor will be your main sponsor, and you should sell it for as high as you feel comfortable going. This should be a coveted spot that comes with a lot of signage and exposure for the sponsor, as well as significant recognition during the awards ceremony. The hole sponsors should be smaller sponsorships that give companies a chance to get their name and logos out on the course. The other sponsorships should fall in between in terms of exposure and price. All of these sponsorships should come along with foursomes as a part of the package: this will build up  your guest list and get important people involved in your cause.

The other thing you should not shy away from as a first time tournament organizer is contests. Contests are really quite simple to implement into your tournament, and they add necessary excitement and exposure for your event. Because contest prizes can be more than covered by sponsorships, they  should end up making you money for your non-profit.

Longest Drives are a definite go-to for first time event organizers because they are extremely easy to plan and conduct. If it’s your first year running a tournament, make sure you purchase a guaranteed prize so you won’t have to worry about witness requirements or rules. You can even sell raffle tickets for entry into the competition in order to increase more revenue.

Closest to the Pin and Putting Contests have the same effect as longest drive; they are easy to run, great sponsorship opportunities, and a lot of fun. All of these should come with guaranteed prizes that you can award to the player who gets the closest to winning.

A shootout is a great thing for first time tournament organizers because of the high level of excitement it adds for very little work. In a shootout, four golfers get to take a shot for a hole in one. This is a perfect activity to take place after the tournament before dinner. The shootout turns into a spectacle for your other players and gives four golfers a chance to be in the spotlight. It is such an enjoyable experience that nobody will be disappointed if there isn’t a winner. Furthermore, as the shootout takes place after the tournament, it will be easy to make sure you have the appropriate witness requirements; you won’t be as busy keeping the tournament running, and all eyes will be on the contest.

You might be thinking, “I can’t cut out sponsors or contests, what can I cut out?” The answer to this question is simple: players. The key to managing a tournament for the first time is to keep it small and intimate. You should not plan to be making your money on player registration, which is why sponsorships are so important. Keep your tournament size low for the first year, and then open it up to a larger group next year when you have a little bit of experience, and hopefully a good reputation! You do not want to be overwhelmed with too many people, and you want everyone to get a chance to get to know each other and build lasting relationships at your event.

If this outline seems like the right direction for your event, check out Golf Digest Planner’s Platinum Plus Pro package. This package comes with our highly rated tournament planning software, as well as a welcome banner, a $50,000 Four-Shot Shootout including a custom sign, a Longest Drive Contest including a custom Sign and a closest to the Pin Contest including a custom sign. This package has been tailor made to help out tournament organizers who want a successful tournament with just the basics, and it is our recommendation for you. As always, if you have any questions, send us an email at



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