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Myths and Realities of Celebrity Golf Tournaments

(This is a guest article by Dan Westervelt)

Celebrity, n. A person who is easily recognized and thus considered ‘famous’ in society.

These people are excellent to have at your golf tournament. They bring not only media attention, but also more money, players, sponsor, fans and sometimes even paying spectators. Because of their WOW factor there are many myths that have sprung up concerning celebrity appearances at golf tournaments and what it takes to get them to come. Actually it is much simpler than you realize. This article debunks some of the more popular myths about getting celebrity players for your charity golf event.

Myth: Celebrity events cost a lot of money to put on because of celebrity appearance fees.
Reality: Celebrities donate their time for the cause. Their usual appearance fees vary anywhere from $5,000-$25,000 per day, but these do not apply because the celebrities have agreed to’ donate their time’.

Myth: Celebrities play because of the PR it will get them:
Reality: Celebrities play for many reasons among them are; because they enjoy the game of golf, want to help your cause or maybe just to get away for a day. There will be a PR benefit for celebrities donating their time, but the event will gain much more from having celebrities attached, so this is truly a win-win for everyone involved.

Myth: Celebrities are divas and need lots of perks before they even consider getting involved.
Reality: All celebrities expect is what your typical patron golfers get – a round of golf, a good meal, a nice arrival gift and a fun day on the course.

Myth: It is extremely hard to get celebrities to leave Hollywood to play in local area charity tournaments.
Reality: Celebrity golfers like to play at courses they haven’t played yet both here and outside of Southern California. Provide them with a first class airline ticket, excellent lodging,  meals, ground transportation in your city and a few extra days of golf. And, they will probably be there.

Myth: Celebrities will cancel on you at any time.
Reality: Since these people are working as volunteers you must make allowances for any schedule changes. If they get a job at the last minute they will notify you as quickly as possible, but things do come up suddenly in show business.

Myth: There is no correct way to promote a Celebrity appearance in our ads and signs.
Reality: Yes there is, use the words “scheduled to appear” along with the Celebrity’s name. If the celebrity has also made a personal contribution to the cause then this too, must be recognized separately.

Myth: It is very expensive to hire a person to bring celebrities to a tournament.
Reality: Reputable celebrity bookers work on reasonable fees, always provide you with a list of references and produce more revenue than they cost the event. .

Myth: Celebrities generate more dollars for your tournament, and they also attract more golfers and get more notice in the press. ALL TRUE, and as an added reality you might actually want to dedicate your tournament to a celebrity by saying “The…..Celebrity Golf Classic”.
Reality: Doing this will definitely get you more attention through the press and you will attract a much more complete field of golfers and probably a few celebrity fans that you weren’t even counting on getting.

Myth: If you don’t book a celebrity far in advance you won’t get them.
Reality: If you go through a legitimate booking agent, they can probably get celebrities a week or two away from the date of your tournament. Again, you need to be flexible as these are last minute requests and celebrities usually calendar events months in advance. Then again there is absolutely no harm in asking.

Myth: Celebrities only want to play within their own “industry segment”
Reality: Absolutely false, most celebrities are happy to play in any kind of tournament – sports, corporate, charity or show business. More often than not, they welcome the chance to play a new course and to make new celebrity friends from other fields.

Myth: Celebrities always insist that their names are used in the Headline of the event.
Reality: Title Sponsors actually get the Headline as they have paid to be there; like the Farmer’s Insurance Celebrity Invitational. Then, directly underneath that it says “hosted by….”the name of the celebrity.  These are things you need to have resolved (in advance) with your celebrity booking agent.

I have the name of the man who I consider to be the best booking agent around, and will gladly share that with you if you are considering adding a celebrity feature to your next event. Email me and I’ll give you that contact info.

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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. You can get in touch with Dan via email.

Images by Ken Lund

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5 Responses to Myths and Realities of Celebrity Golf Tournaments

  1. Dmitriy July 7, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    Good post, Dan. I've just recently begun watching golf and you make some interesting points here. One in particular – the expectation that celebrities only participate in golf tournaments for the PR aspect – strikes me as typical of the stereotype against PR. Free publicity may be the primary motivation, but the goal of any good PR strategy is for both sides to “win”. There's no reason that everyone involved can't benefit; PR is not motivated by capitalist principles.

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  2. Gsideman July 7, 2010 at 7:08 pm #

    This is not entirely true, I'm afraid. I have experienced and know other event planners and publicists who have tried to work with celebs who either charge exorbitant appearance fees and/or require expensive accommodations to appear at charity sports events. Lesser-known celebrities will likely donate their time if they plan to be in the geographical area, know the event's host or support the cause.

    The best and least expensive commitments come from celebs who know the host and have a friendship or personal reason invested in the event.

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