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Classic Golf Tournament Mistakes

(This is a guest article by Dan Westervelt)

Mistake 1: We’ll rent a golf course that charges a $65 green fees and charge our golfers $165 to play in the event. While this may seem like a reasonable price you must remember that golfers are very familiar with the local courses and their green fees. Better to offer them a higher priced course to justify the increased fee, golfers will pay more for perceived value i.e. it is far easier to sell an event on a $150 course at $250 than a $65 course for $165.

HINT: Private club green fees are now definitely negotiable and sadly, people don’t bother to ask about them about their current rates, you will be surprised by doing so.

Mistake 2: Our format has always worked with our golfers so we’ll stick with what worked last year. The big problem with this thinking is that as golfers improve their needs change, for example a starting golfer is very happy to play in a scramble format. An advanced golfer probably is not, they either want to play their ball throughout the match or at least have a more hands on approach in play. SOLUTION: Before you announce the format, survey the golfers from last year, ask if they would prefer a change?

HINT: This should be a part of your regular tournament promotion activity anyway, as once you have hosted a golfer, you need to stay in touch with them about upcoming events and a short 3 question survey is the way to gain valuable information before making this mistake.

Mistake 3: We offer our standard Mulligan Package, that is 2 Mulligans, a few raffle tickets, drink tickets and we usually throw in a couple of leftover auction items, like a sleeve of balls. Golfers love games and if you can offer something new, so much the better. Take a look at the Superticket program this package comes with any games and contests you specify; your event logo, plus a free golf club, a chance for 4 players at a $100,000 shootout, one grand prize trip to a Luxury resort in Mexico and a golf scratcher game all for one low price. You tell them what you want to charge, what contests to include and they send these to you on consignment, you pay for only what is used, and they even include a prepaid UPS return shipping label.

HINT: Check these out.

Mistake 4: We have a member who is a photographer and he can take group photos and we’ll give them out at the end of the event, in a nice paper folio. STOP, paper folios wind up in drawers not where people see them, and committing to print and give out photos at the awards ceremony is a very big task unto itself. Better idea is to allow yourself time to print these i.e. after the event. Present them in a nice metal frame with the event logo and date on the front. Average cost is between $4-6 for a decent looking frame.

HINT: By sending these out at a later time you have the chance to thank your players again for coming; it will also refresh your player’s memories of the event and don’t forget to ask for an early registration commitment for this coming year’s event.

Mistake 5: Plastic/resin trophies are very inexpensive, why should we spend $20-30 on an award? The value of a trophy is 70% appearance and 30% weight, that is the better the materials and the beefier it is in the hand; the more precious it is to the winner. Display these prizes prominently at registration; let your players see what is at stake here. Trophies are the last thing you give away, but they are among the most lasting memories you can create for your event. Think of them as reminders to play again next year and by all means make sure you have something for the losers as well as the winners.

HINT: This may sound silly but to win a trophy for dead last still holds great power for a golfer.

Mistake 6: The arrival gifts that we offered last year are just too expensive, so we will just get some donated this year. Arrival gifts are your event’s First Impression, which by the way is formed within the first 90 seconds. If your event wants to project quality and value, i.e. respect for your returning players, find an arrival gift sponsor, take the time to shop these with a supplier of tournament merchandise and spend the money. Golfers know how much things cost and a leather bag is ten times as desirable as a nylon one that does the same thing.

HINT: Leather goods are very reasonable these days.


Dan Westervelt is a recognized speaker and an expert on advanced selling techniques, he is the author of four books and numerous published articles on advanced selling. He currently serves as the National Tournament Consultant for the GTAA as well as being an Adjunct Professor of Sports Marketing and Promotion at the National University Golf Academy at Carlsbad CA. A lifelong golfer, his tournament experience is extensive as both golfer and organizer.

Image by United States Army Garrison – Presidio of Monterey

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