From major championships like The Masters Tournament to your local Summer Clubhouse Classic, golf tournaments for all skill levels take place nationwide throughout the year. According to Phil Immordino, President of the Golf Tournament Association of America, over one million golf outings take place annually in the United States, with individual courses hosting an average of fifty tournaments each. In a region with three golf courses, as many as 150 tournaments may occur each year. With so many events for golfers to choose from, courses are looking for one-of-a-kind golf tournament ideas that make their outings stand out.
In this post, we discuss tips, tricks, tools, and ideas that you can use to take your golf tournaments to the next level. In addition to attracting attention and drawing people to your venue, the right tournament strategy can help courses recoup hosting costs, drive future revenue, and increase special event bookings. From pre-tournament planning tips to on-site money-making games, we review a variety of golf tournament ideas that marketing teams, golf resort managers, and event staff can use to maximize an outing’s impact.
Boost business with these strategic golf tournament ideas
Golf tournaments are popular events simply because they are effective. Whether naming a champion, promoting corporate team-building events, launching a new club brand, or fundraising, golf outings can drive business to your course. In addition to raising money and awareness for nonprofits all over the world, golf tournaments can benefit the hosting venue in a variety of ways, including:
• Increasing venue exposure
• Raising your local profile
• Driving course revenue
• Promoting new business relationships
A successful tournament doesn’t come together organically, however, as events require careful planning and preparation. Organization representatives, along with event planners, marketing managers, and venue coordinators, choose which golf tournament ideas will be the most effective and frequently work as a team to make it happen. Together, they create a plan of action, design marketing materials, and promote the competition.
Our best tips for planning a golf tournament
1. Pick a memorable name
Choose a catchy name that stands out and expresses the purpose of the event. The tournament name should match the tone of the event and be easy for people to remember. Look for inspiration in memorable, clever, and funny golf tournament names, such as:
• Fairway to Heaven
• Masters of the Green
• Strokes of Genius
• Spring Scramble
• Hole Lotta Fun
When fundraising, try to work the name of the charity or organization into the title or choose a name related to the nonprofit’s objective. Putting for Profits, Fairways for Life, and Champions for Charity are all fantastic examples of charity-driven golf tournament names.
2. Set the right entry fee
Determine the average expense per player before setting a registration fee for the event. For example, the average golfer may incur around $75 in green fees, consume $25 of food, and receive $25 worth of promotional gifts. In this case, the cost for each golfer adds up to $125. Charge $130-$150 per player to cover any additional anticipated expenses and recoup your hosting costs, so that any additional revenue acquired at the tournament is profit.
Tournament Tip: At registration, detail what the golfer entry fee includes, such as a round of golf, dinner, entertainment, and two raffle entries.
3. Choose the right tournament format
Golf tournaments can follow a variety of different formats, each determining a distinctive style of play for the event. Know your event goals, and choose a tournament format that suits your main objective.
If the objective is to fundraise as much as possible, Golf-A-Thons drive donations. If your goal is to highlight the course’s accessibility and attract players of all skill levels, Scrambles are popular events, especially for beginners. Increase pro-level memberships and attract advanced golfers with more challenging formats, like Best Balls.
4. Create a landing page for the event
The landing page for your tournament may be the first interaction a customer has with your brand or with the event, and it can have a major impact on the visitor’s impression. Design a unique, vibrant, and informative landing page for the tournament. A quality landing page can accomplish multiple marketing objectives at once, including:
• Showcasing the golf course and club
• Providing tournament details (e.g., date, location, and time)
• Advertising awards and prizes
• Identifying sponsors via logo and links
• Promoting special guests (e.g., golf pros or celebrity participants)
• Linking to the social media accounts
• Showing off positive reviews from past events
The tournament’s registration form should be the main focus of the page. The form should be easy to fill out and quick to complete, ensuring that the registration process is seamless for interested audience members.
Tournament Tip: Include a separate sign-up form to join the tournament’s email list. Individuals who are not ready to commit to registration stay in the loop and receive important updates.
Golf tournament hosting ideas
5. Sell mulligans
Mulligans, or “do-overs,” are available for teams and individual participants to purchase. Allowing players to take an extra stroke without penalty, mulligans are popular offerings for golfers of all skill levels. Tournaments commonly use helium-filled balloons to track a player’s mulligan count, popping a balloon each time the player takes advantage. If you’re seeking a more sustainable solution, however, there are a variety of helpful apps that can help organizers track player scores, handicapping stats, and tournament purchases, such as:
• Event Caddy: Track sponsorships, registrations, and payments
• Mulligan’s Eagle: Keep track of player scores, handicapping, and stats
• OneCause: Sell event tickets, raffle tickets, and other fixed-price items
• TournEvents: Manage players, track donations, and sell tournament-related items
Allow registrants to purchase mulligans as a registration package add-on, as well as on the day of the event, to maximize revenue potential.
6. Host a post-tournament player dinner
Encourage players to stick around after the tournament by hosting a dinner reception after the main event ends. Host as award ceremony and treat players to the finest dining the club has to offer as they unwind after a long, tiring day.
Use the reception as an opportunity to show off your golf club’s event and catering skills. Have event menus and meeting information available for interested parties, and direct interested engaged couples to your club’s venue listing.
7. Promote exclusive membership offers
Set up a non-intrusive membership table manned by a course representative. Non-member players and tournament guests can visit the membership station to sign up for a course membership at a tournament-only discounted rate.
Tournament Tip: Encourage members to upgrade their current package with a limited-time offer.
8. Tell a story
Help golfers and tournament guests connect with the organization benefiting from the event. Invite a powerful speaker from the charity to tell their story, raise awareness, and explain the impact that tournament donations have on the organization’s ability to offer aid.
Tournament Tip: Place donation envelopes at each reception table, making it easy for interested attendees to donate in a low-pressure and discreet manner.
9. Give guided venue tours
Tournament attendees may not be aware that you host corporate and private events, so use the tournament as an opportunity to show off your meeting space and boost future event bookings. Use event diagramming tools to determine if any unused event space will be available on the day of the tournament, and determine how any available event space can be transformed to attract attention from target market segments.
If you want to book more wedding business, for example, transform meeting space into a magical wedding ceremony setup. Highlight the wedding services the club offers, as well as respected partner vendors. Appeal to corporate planners with a conference setup that incorporates business-friendly meeting technology. Discuss the corporate team-building events or networking mixers the club has hosted in the past to demonstrate the flexibility of your meeting space.
Get an in-depth look at how event diagramming works
10. Provide promotional swag bags
Create sponsored swag bags that include promotional items that players will actually use, such as golf tees, portable fans, and gloves. Drive repeat business with coupons for future visits, promo codes for reduced meeting room rental, or two free passes to the club pool.
Tournament Tip: Request promotional items from vendors and sponsors a few weeks before the tournament to include them in tournament giveaway bags.
11. Energize tournament-goers with a live auction
Host a post-tournament live auction to keep fundraising efforts high as the event winds down. After the tournament concludes, re-energize even the most exhausted players with an enthusiastic live auction. Bring out an auctioneer with charisma, high energy levels, and the ability to work a crowd.
Live auctions should include exciting packages that auctioneers can gush about. Create 4-6 enticing packages that will appeal to players, as well as other tournament guests. Raise major funds by promoting incredible prize packages, such as:
• High-end retail shopping spree
• Electronics package
• Wine tasting tour
• Ski resort family vacation
• Tropical timeshare getaway
Create at least one package that promotes the course and key venue features. Package prizes should encourage visitors to return to your venue. Include pool passes for the summer, ten free on-site meetings, a corporate retreat, and other VIP club experiences.
Tournament Tip: Due to the popularity of pairing auctions with golf outings, many tournament organizers and charity representatives have experience hosting auctions.
12. Set up a silent auction
Silent auctions are also popular golf tournament revenue drivers. Often taking place during the post-tournament reception, silent auctions tend to include more items than their livelier counterparts so that they appeal to an array of tournament attendees. Holly Kennedy, Co-Founder of Kennedy Golf Tournament and Event Planning, recommends that tournament organizers include between 10-25 silent auction items at a standard golf tournament.
Include a few golf-related items, as you already know attendees are enthusiastic about the sport, but not all silent auction items should be golf-themed. Add items that will appeal widely to players and non-players alike, such as:
• Restaurant certificates
• Upcoming event tickets
• Gourmet food and wine
• Spa treatments
• Cigar collection
Money-making golf tournament game ideas
13. Straightest Drive Contest
Draw a chalk line down the center of the fairway. Contestants pay an entry fee and compete to see who has the straightest drive, following along the fairway’s chalk line. Announce the winner and present a trophy to the golfer with the “Straightest Drive” during the post-tournament awards ceremony.
Station a professional golfer at one hole on the course. When players reach the hole, they can pay to have the pro take their shot for them. Promote the golf pro’s participation to help drive event attendance and raise your venue’s profile.
Tournament Tip: Advertise the contest on marketing materials, provide a link to the pro’s website, and share a video interview to generate buzz for the event.
15. String Swap
Set up “String Stations” along the tournament course. When players arrive at a String Station, they can purchase a piece of string to improve a future stroke. If they purchase a 5” piece of string, for example, they can move one ball 5” before their swing without receiving a penalty. The cost per string should increase as the length increases.
16. $1,000 Hole-in-One
Choose one hole on the course and designate it as the “$1,000 Hole.” At this hole, players who make a hole-in-one receive $1,000 in cash. Depending on your prize budget, you may choose to offer prize money to the first player who lands a hole-in-one, the first five players, or every player who sinks the ball on their first shot.
17. $10,000 Ball Drop
Run a major contest with an impressive prize, like a $10,000 Ball Drop, to build major buzz for the event and increase donations. During a ball drop, a sponsored helicopter drops hundreds of numbered golf balls onto a putting green. Drop participants purchase a ticket (or tickets) to compete, and each ticket number matches one of the dropped golf balls. The ticket holder for the ball that gets closest to the hole, or makes it in, wins a $10,000 prize.
Large money-makers require generous sponsors, with some Ball Drop sponsors paying up to $25,000 at larger tournaments. Fly the helicopter around town, hang banners, and live stream the event to provide the title sponsor with memorable marketing that demonstrates the value of their contribution.
Tournament Tip: In addition to advertising the title sponsor of your tournament, live streaming event footage can attract the attention of new audience members and the community.
Frequently asked golf tournament questions
1. Is it risky to offer major golf tournament prizes?
Use attention-getting prizes to drive event attendance, but get them insured first for your protection. Tournament insurers like Hole in One provide coverage for major prizes including boats, cars, and cash prizes.
2. How do I land major golf tournament sponsors?
One of the largest revenue producers at golf tournaments, landing major sponsors is a vital part of executing a successful event. The number one goal of any sponsor is to get more business out of sponsoring the event. If you’re going to ask for major sponsorships of $5,000 or more, you need to make it worthwhile for the companies participating; show them that they will receive a hefty ROI. Demonstrate that you can reach their customers, and strive to build a strong foundation for future sponsorship opportunities.
Do not limit sponsor marketing to the day of the event; include it in the pre-event multi-month marketing campaign. Advertise sponsors in promotional materials for 3-4 months leading up to the event, as well for a month or so afterward in post-event communications. On the day of the event, provide an opportunity for sponsor representatives to sell their products and services.
3. What if it rains the day of a golf tournament?
Ultimately, if it rains the day of the event, you will have to reschedule; after all, golf is an outdoor sport. Have a backup plan, just in case. For example, move portions of the event indoors, and host indoor activities with reduced staff. Utilize event management software to quickly change layouts, move vendor stations around, and see which activities will fit comfortably indoors. Discuss the tournament’s rain policy, or “Plan B,” with sponsors and vendors ahead of time. Keep registrants up to date via email and social media.
Use these golf tournament ideas to spice up your next event!
You’re ready to make your next golf tournament your most successful yet, but don’t stop there. Outside of tournaments, there are loads of creative events that golf clubs, courses, and resorts can host to attract new business. Up next, we explore golf club social event ideas that both members and non-members will want to attend.