Creating a VIP Experience – By Carla Goss, Clubcorp
How would you define a VIP experience?
A VIP Experience is what we try to do every day with our tournaments. It starts with the planning process, ensuring we understand what they want the guests to remember. It is incorporating elements that WOW players by making them feel special and creating a tournament they will never forget.
What can the club do and bring to the table to ensure the outing achieves VIP standards?
We are in the business of building relationships and enriching lives. That applies to tournaments as well, from pairing together people with common interests to stocking a cooler with the players’ favorite drinks. It is going that extra mile.
How can food and beverage factor into creating a truly special VIP experience?
Today, food and beverage experiences can be on the course, creating an element of surprise but also making it special. Getting away from traditional boxed lunches or burgers and dogs and doing things that are fun. Have chefs cooking tacos with a tequila tasting on the course. Create a hospitality station full of fuel for the body, including bars, fruits, energy drinks or club-made jerky. There are so many fun ways to bring that onto the course and surprise the players.
What are the keys for tournament directors maintaining a budget while also providing a top-notch experience?
Figure out what is important. If you are on a tight budget, think about one element that can create a unique experience your players will remember and talk about. Our clubs are experts at helping create those magic moments. Once you have that, it is much easier to find a sponsor who may be willing to cover the cost.
In addition to golf, what are other activities that could set the event apart from other tournaments participants have competed in?
There are so many. Our clubs are great venues for tournaments like cornhole, bocce ball, pickleball, tennis … even ping pong tournaments or pool tournaments.
Is the condition of the actual course critical in the overall VIP experience?
The course conditions are important for sure. You don’t want to play a course that is having major problems. If the course is well sought after you can typically charge more and for charities, that helps them raise more money. The other thing to remember is access. If they can pay to play there on their own, it is not as special. Hosting your tournament at a private club will help grow your player count.
What prizes, packages or experiences could be considered VIP and make the tournament more unique?
Our clubs can cover it all. On-course contests add a level of excitement and often times provide a way for a not-so-great golfer to win. Live scoring is another great experience for the competitive teams that allows them to see how they are doing in real time. They can also share it with their friends and family to watch. Prizes and gifts are a standard part of tournaments but can be taken to a new level. Our ClubLife Concierge will work with each tournament to help pick out the prizes. One of the greatest VIP experiences is a live shopping spree instead of a tee prize, which allows your players to get what they want – it can be clubs, shoes, tech products, travel bags, the possibilities are endless.
At ClubCorp, we will work with you to create a VIP experience for your sponsors, players, guests and planners. We have clubs all over the Metroplex and can help you find the best fit for you within your budget. To speak with our expert, Regional Tournaments Director Don Offill, call or email him at 817-247-4938 or Don.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Choosing a Venue – By Cody Roye, Old American Golf Club
I want to host a golf tournament this year. How far in advance should I work on having everything broke down and what should my budget be?
The key component to hosting an event is finding a date and location that works for you, your committee and your targeted attendees. As far as having all the details lined out you have time, but the most successful events we see executed are well organized at least 90 days in advance. Our team likes to meet with event organizers within 30 days of them contracting the event. This meeting gives us the opportunity to gain some knowledge on the organization’s goals and mission, we are also able to establish them a point of contact for the event so that they know their on-site contact for all their needs leading up to the event.
When considering what your budget should look like you need to consider the goal of the tournament. Are you raising money for a charitable organization, looking to break even, or looking to put on an extravagant day for potential business clients?
Do higher greens fees necessarily mean the venue would be better?
Not necessarily, but there are many things that factor into a facility’s green fees. What amenities that are offered can play a big role in the pricing structure. For instance, at our property, we have carts with the latest in on-board GPS technology, upgraded range balls, electronic scoring options and the exclusivity factor to host your event at a course that can be seen on national television. With that being said, if you find a course you fall in love with because you know the experience and conditions are superb, but it is outside what you are looking to spend, consider talking to the sales team and see if there is any off-season pricing options they may have.
Tournament planning can be very stressful, what can I do throughout the process of planning so that stress is minimal on the day of the event?
There are many nuances that go into executing a golf tournament, so setting goals and a timeline as a coordinator will be key for your success. Surrounding yourself with a strong committee and utilizing those key team members can really help alleviate a lot of the stress. As the coordinator of the event you have to know it is inevitable that you will be pulled in many different directions on the day of, so having your support staff own their responsibility will allow you the autonomy to assist where needed but also be the face of the event.
For us as the host site, we make sure that we have all details at least seven days in advance so that we can create a roadmap for our entire team to ensure flawless execution of our responsibilities. We also understand there will always be last-minute changes with events, so making sure we are able to adapt on the fly without the patrons ever seeing or feeling those behind the scenes changes will keep the stress level low for all involved. We encourage all our clients to hand it over to our team of experienced professionals and enjoy their day.
What are some questions to consider if I am trying to narrow down multiple options to one perfect venue for my event?
First and foremost, if you are locked into one specific date or timeframe, are those available at all the venues being considered? From there taking a deep dive into each property’s tournament offerings and packages may help you find hidden value for a particular option. At the Golf Clubs at the Tribute we like to make sure our clients know that they will have a “one-stop shop” for all of their needs between our staff of PGA Professionals, award winning Chef and new fleet of golf carts equipped with on-board GPS units.
Other than course conditions, what aspects should I consider to ensure a memorable tournament for all involved?
It is all about the small details that have a large impact for your guests. In our tournament coordination meetings with our outings we work with them to find those “experience drivers” that can help set their event apart from others. We offer a lot of opportunities for our clients to tailor their event to meet their experience goals. We like to see them utilize our Golf Operations team to provide something prior to the event, while on the course our Food & Beverage department can truly enhance those long rounds by providing a unique culinary component. Some venues have less capabilities when it comes to their offerings so make sure you ask the right questions prior to booking your event.
How much involvement from property staff should I expect? Is there a general rule of thumb for how many people I should involve to help run this event?
As mentioned above having a committee is always helpful to navigate the many different components that go into planning and executing an event, but for some events they can hand over the entire process to our team. How many people you need is completely dependent on the goal of the event. Our team isn’t able to go out and source sponsors or raise money, but if you are just looking to show your guests a great time, we can provide everything you need.
For information about booking an event at Old American Golf Club, visit theoldamericangolfclub.com or call 972-370-4653. Cody Roye can be reached at email@example.com.
Food and Beverage – By Chip Nami, City of Grand Prairie
What is a corkage fee and how does that factor into potentially planning a tournament?
We do not offer a corkage fee. We have a private club (beer/wine) license therefore all alcoholic beverages must be purchased through the course. We are able to work with tournaments that have specific sponsorship needs by bringing in requested products. We also offer a variety of beverage packages to help accommodate desires and budgets.
Are on-site caterers necessary to incorporate to have a successful tournament?
Having an on-site catering operation certainly helps to streamline the planning. By offering in-house catering we truly are a “one stop shop” for your tournament needs. The comfort of knowing that Prairie Lakes is standing behind your entire event should put any tournament host at ease. We are incredibly blessed to have Eddlemon’s BBQ as our on-site catering partner. They have been a Grand Prairie institution for over 60 years. Their food is consistently rated near the top of the D/FW golf market. Whether it’s their award-winning BBQ, delicious hamburgers or a custom menu, Eddlemon’s and Prairie Lakes will deliver catering service that will be the talk of your event.
What is the best dining format for a tournament? Buffet? Plated menu? Order off the menu?
The answer to this is really up to the tournament host. There are certainly pros and cons to all of the options. At Prairie Lakes we are able to accommodate all of these options and more. We have found that offering buffet service for breakfast and after round meals works quite well due to the variation of players arrivals and finishing of their rounds. It’s a nice touch to offer some hors d’oeuvres or light snacks at the end of the round prior to the meal. This will allow all to dine together. Also, another popular option for afternoon tee times is boxed lunches which allow players to take their meal to the course with them.
How much food is too much food? Is one meal generally OK? Two? One and snacks? Two and snacks?
We’ve found that it will vary based several factors. Most important among those are start time and size of the group. An early morning start time usually means spanning both breakfast and lunch. For this a light continental breakfast with a heartier lunch is a nice choice. Conversely a smaller (less than 80) group teeing off between noon and 1 p.m. is probably OK with lunch and light snacks following the round. A good rule of thumb is being sure to offer meals if you expect your guests to be at the course during traditional meal times.
What is the preferred method when it comes to alcoholic beverages? Drink tickets? Cash bar? Open bar?
Drink tickets are probably the most popular option at this time. The advantage of this is allowing the tournament host to budget while still offering their guests some complimentary beverages. Some groups will actually offer drink tickets for the course and then an open bar or cash bar following the round. As with anything else budget comes into play on bar service. At Prairie Lakes we are happy to work with you to help you customize the right fit for your group.
Is there any other pertinent information regarding food and beverage planning that has not been discussed?
Often tournament hosts can be overwhelmed or even intimidated by all of the planning that goes into a successful event. That’s what we’re here for! Our PGA Professionals and catering professionals are skilled at making sure all the details are covered. We have decades of experience in all aspects of planning golf tournaments and are at your disposal to ensure a flawless event. Our goal is to make the tournament host a hero in the eyes of their players and organizations.
Chip Nami is Business Operations Manager for the Grand Prairie Parks, Arts & Recreation Department. To contact Chip, call 972-397-4110 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To book a tournament at Prairie Lakes Golf Club, go to prairielakesgolf.com.
Ensuring a Return Visit – By Adena Wallace, City of Arlington
Where do I start when it comes to getting golfers to return to the course following a tournament?
The process of planning a golf tournament starts with choosing a venue for your event; this can be a stressful task. Each event needs to begin with setting a budget and choosing a committee with designated roles: tournament director, treasurer, fundraising, prizes and volunteers. The overall goal constitutes the task of creating a reputation that ensures a return visit of their guests year after year. Each event needs to create a “Player Profile” – knowing what the players WANT, will give the director a successful start in creating guest satisfaction.
What are some detailed questions to consider in order to create a successful event?
Over the years, potential clients have asked a lot of detailed questions about “How to create a successful event?” I always take control of the conversation with asking basic questions for the planning process:
1. When are your players available to play?
2. What is your Budget?
3. When are your volunteers available?
4. What type of elements have your previous tournaments incorporated – can we change some of those elements to make the event memorable?
5. What type of experience do you envision for your guest?
6. What items did each player receive from your event that brings them back for another year?
If you’ve selected a good facility with professional experience in hosting events, the tournament/event coordinator will ensure the details of the event will create a unique, enjoyable experience that drives excitement before, during and after your event.
In the City of Arlington, we view all our clients as “Guests”. We are honored to be a part of each event with the opportunity to give our guests a wonderful Arlington experience. Our professional staff strives to create extraordinary guest experiences by delivering superior service, amenities and playing surfaces. Our catering options from the Ventana Grille are established with Gold Key Standards, customized for your event. The City of Arlington employs PGA Professionals who are trained with years of experience in tournament operations and client satisfaction.
How far can the latest technology go in ensuring a return visit?
Optimizing high-energy programs with a variety of new products and experiences will elevate your attendance and participation levels. An example of this is VISAGE – golf cart technology focused on connecting golfers with the golf course in a unique new way and enhancing your overall golf experience. Visage provides promotions with sponsor recognition options, speaker systems and golf navigation with improving pace of play. The ability to give your guests a welcome message during their round of golf is an invaluable opportunity to have a one on one experience that creates a lasting effect.
What other ways can you differentiate the experience for a guest in an effort for a return visit?
Hosting a mobile pro shop for your event to choose their own items from golf vendors has been a winning option for organizations who play for multiple years. The commitment to give back to special guests who support your event each year enhances the relationship between the players and the charity or corporate event. The feedback has been very positive for the excitement to shop with a purpose … give your guests something they WANT, not just filler items that are discarded at a later date. Your event money will be better spent and create the lasting memory bringing your guests back year after year. And remember, time is money. Being respectful of that will better the experience for all.
Adena Wallace is the PGA Tournament and Events Coordinator for the City of Arlington, servicing Texas Rangers Golf Club, Tierra Verde Golf Club, Lake Arlington Golf Course, Meadowbrook Park and Ventana Grille Catering & Bar Services. At the City of Arlington, overall customer experience is our main objective. Come visit our first-class facilities and let us take the stress out of your event. We are full service ready! To contact Adena about booking a tournament in Arlington, email email@example.com.
Goals to Achieve – By Wes Frazier, Southern Oaks Golf and Tennis Club
Describe the relationship between tournament director and tournament planners and what are the benefits and negatives if these relationships are lacking?
This is a very important relationship for the success of the event. If this is not a good relationship, it will lead to poor communication and poor communication results in a lot of misses on the day of the tournament.
What can tournament planners within an event do to help achieve their overall financial goals for the year?
First tournament planners need to set direct realistic goals for their event. The most important thing for tournament planners to remember is “it takes a village”. Do not try and do everything on their own. Create a list of tasks and then recruit volunteers and assign them duties and tasks to complete.
Where are some ways to budget and areas to cut from to ensure max profits for causes or organizations supported by the tournament?
Don’t go overboard with food. Most golfers would prefer quick grab-and-go food instead of a heavy sit down meal.
How can you best achieve a healthy balance between maximizing profit and making sure participants are having fun?
The best thing to keep in mind here is TIME. The No. 1 thing that can create a bad experience at a golf tournament is slow pace of play. So keep pace of play in mind when you are thinking about an on-course contest or fundraising during play. This is where you need to involve the golf professional at the course and use their advice contest and fundraising placement on the course.
What is the best way to communicate, and advice to give to a tournament planner that doesn’t play the game of golf themselves?
Ask your tournament directors and golf pros at the course a lot of questions, they are the pros at this. They are the best resource for executing a great tournament. They know what works and does not work during a golf tournament.
So, the tournament is set. How should we spread word to get the maximum number of participants and donations?
Start with friends and family, recruit volunteers, post and share multiple times on social media. Check with your Tournament Director at the course because a lot of times they are able to post and advertise your event on bulletin boards at the course as well as event calendars on their website.
Any other words of wisdom or advice for someone looking to plan their first tournament?
Ask lots of questions and over communicate.
For more information about booking an event at Southern Oaks Golf Club, call 817-426-2400. Wes Frazier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Communication is Key – By Kevin Moltenbrey, Whitestone Golf Club
How important is the relationship between tournament director and the tournament organizer and how can you assure a good working relationship?
The relationship is crucially important, especially when it involves communication. Good communication on all fronts helps build a relationship and allows both parties to create a memorable experience.
What can be done to ensure food and beverage programs are a good fit for a particular event?
Early communication will help set an expectation and help the Tournament Director coordinate staffing and quality programs to exceed expectations.
What type of questions should an organizer want answers to when speaking with a tournament director?
Depending on the experience of the organizer the more knowledge they can gain from the expertise of the director the better. Asking open-ended questions will allow the director to execute the organizer’s vision and work in conjunction together.
And as a tournament director, what are the key questions you would want to be asked? Are there dumb questions?
Standard questions are great, but the important thing is to clearly communicate the vision of the organizer and allow the director to execute that. The organizer should also listen to the director’s ideas and insights to help allow the event to go smoothly and without any surprises.
What problems can a lack of clear communication between director and organizer cause?
Minimizing the unknowns or last-minute curveballs is always challenging. By communicating often everyone can create a memorable experience to help achieve the goals of the outing.
Does the sales director play a role in the planning process? And if so, what is it?
The sales director sets the expectation from the start of the communication. They need to understand the goals/vision of the organizer and be able to communicate that to the director. For example, if a sales director over-promises or sets an unrealistic expectation, the organizer will be disappointed and need to start over with the director to communicate the goals and vision of the event. This creates an undesirable experience that may trickle down to the guests.
How important and involved is course staff on the day of an event in the running of a tournament?
Every staff member should have a working knowledge of the event and have the ability to solve any issues that arise on the day of. It is very important to have each staff member involved with the event and give them ownership to help create the best experience desired by everyone.
For more information about booking an event at Whitestone Golf Club, call 817-249-9996. Kevin Moltenbrey can be reached at email@example.com.
Maximizing Charitable Contributions – By Eric Wofford, Irving Golf Club
When seeking charitable donations, do you feel more contributions are made prior to the start of the tournament (i.e. in the clubhouse) or on the actual course?
Most of your contributions are made prior to the round at registration. Participants have their money out ready to register so the best is to capture it at that time.
Is it best to ask for donations primarily at one time or one area, or to have different options available at different times and places?
Try and limit the number of times you are asking for donations. If you have an online registration, go ahead and get them to commit to your all-inclusive package (includes mulligans, contests, raffle tickets, drink tickets, etc.). On the day of registration, ask those that did not select the all-inclusive package online if they would like to upgrade and also maybe offer additional items to those that already signed up online.
What is the best way to maximize charitable donations without giving the feeling to the participant that they are constantly being nickeled-and-dimed?
Create an all-inclusive package that includes all the extras (mulligans, on-course contest, raffle tickets, etc.). Participants are more inclined to pay $20-$50 up front for everything versus an amount for mulligans, another amount for contests and something extra for raffle tickets.
What are the best ways to ask for and receive donations without making the participant feel guilty if they do not give, or to entice them to give at a later time?
This is a tough one, you don’t ever want to make a participant feel guilty for not giving more than the entry fee. This is why I would try to stay away from asking for donations on the course during play. A great opportunity to receive further donations (also under-utilized) is to send follow up email/text to your participants. In this email or text thank them for playing, ask for feedback, provide the date for your next event and provide a link that allows for further donations.
What other ways can donations be achieved outside of your typical tournament “raffles”?
You could do a 50/50 drawing, helicopter ball drop, hole-in-one challenge, putting contest and many more. However, I would limit to maybe one or two of these extra events. The best approach is to change up these extra events each year so the tournament does not feel the same each year. Again, send that follow up email/text and include a link to donate. If a participant had a great time at your tournament they may be inclined to donate a little more.
What is the relationship between sponsors, tournament directors and tournament planners?
Sponsorships are the most important contributions to make a successful golf tournament. As a tournament planner you want to build a great relationship with all of your sponsors, which will encourage them to maintain their sponsorship for future events. It is also a great practice to introduce sponsors to the Tournament Director at the course as they can also help make the sponsors feel extra special on the day of the event.
For more information about booking an event at Irving Golf Club, call 972-457-0772. Eric Wofford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Formatting for Fun – By Jackie Granado, Silverhorn Golf Club of Texas
In your experience organizing tournaments, what formats seem to be the best?
Typically, most tournaments will do a four-person scramble format as it allows golfers of all skill levels to be involved. This format does help increase player count, takes pressure off the individual and creates team balance. There are other formats such as: two-person scramble, shamble, alternate shot, stableford and match play. Try doing a par-3 tournament – your golf professional can turn all holes into par-3s for your event just like at Augusta!
I have heard of tournaments playing in eight-somes for four-person scrambles, what is your opinion on this format?
This format makes the tournament fun but also competitive as you trade scorecards with the other team. Our CBIGG courses are all about being non-traditional and giving the customer what they desire. From eight-somes to 30-somes, CBIGG strives for creativity in our formatting. Ever thought about doing a corporate team building activity? Play all 30 people together divided into four-person teams to play three holes as fast as you can!
What are your suggestions on making a tournament different than every other charity or corporate event?
Golf tournaments are about having fun outdoors, networking, and knocking back a few beverages. We are not out here to play in a PGA event – we do NOT have to play 18 holes! I’ve had many clients not interested in spending 4.5 hours in the Texas heat, so we have adapted into arranging nine-hole tournaments. It’s quite simple, we score them in two divisions from front nine and back nine – it’s just like your normal golf tournament but cutting your time in half. The golfers love it because it isn’t an all-day event for them. The client benefits as the course is open to negotiating a great twilight rate for a 4-5 p.m. shotgun during their non-peak tee times.
How can pace of play impact the tournament and what can I do to assure the round moves smoothly?
Most tournament participants only play golf a few times out of the year. This can affect the day for everyone as no one likes to wait. Make special rules to speed up play. Is your group a par max or a bogey max group? Know your crowd on the course to make it an enjoyable round of golf. Also, I would map out hole sponsors to make sure activities are spread out and they aren’t going to cause any pace issues.
What are different ways to award on-course prizes and places?
Talk with your tournament director or golf professional on different ways they can score your event. You can always use certain handicapping systems to give golfers their NET score to help level the playing field for those that aren’t as experienced as others. Also, going back to tournaments are about having fun – you don’t have to award the traditional first- through third-place teams. I have events that will award places to the first, fifth, 12th and 17th teams. I do suggest doing closest-to-the-pin, longest drive and hole-in-one contests. Do something different such as renting an air cannon ball launcher for a long drive contest!
Are there any other fun activities that I can add to my event either before, during or after play?
Golf is evolving and can be more than just golf. I believe we are hosting social events with golf versus golf tournaments. Organizations will always have people that want to participate in the event, but they don’t play golf. How do we include everyone to make a memorable event? Try hosting Painting with a Twist classes with a Bloody Mary/Mimosa Bar while the tournament is ongoing. Time the class to end as golfers are coming off the course to serve lunch altogether. In addition, you can do a casino night, helicopter ball drop, live music, mobile golf shops/demo days, crawfish boil or golf clinic. Always think out of the box to be the event everyone talks about.
Jackie Granado is the Tournament Sales Director at Silverhorn Golf Club and The Club at Sonterra in San Antonio, Texas. She has worked her position in tournament sales with CBIGG Management for two years and has been in the golf industry for four years. For more information about booking tournaments at any of CBIGG’s 13 golf properties in Texas, contact Jackie at 210-545-5300.
Options Make for a Better Tournament – By Patrick Damer, Arcis Golf
When given a variety of course options to hold a tournament what factors should I consider?
The size of the outing and projected number of participants, their abilities and skill levels should be taken into consideration. And, since most golfers enjoy eating and drinking as much as playing, factor in your food and beverage needs. Did you want box lunches or a barbeque? On-course stations or a beverage cart? For après golf, will there be a reception, sit down awards dinner or a casual buffet? Dictating all of this, of course, is budget – what golfers are willing to pay and how much you want to raise.
Begin your golf course search early. It will take time to look at potential courses, talk to their tournament or outing planners, 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. Remember, private clubs often allow outside outings at least one day a week.
Get at least three proposals to compare and weigh the pros and cons of each option.
What course and venue characteristics are important when planning a tournament? Why would some be better than others?
Make a checklist and compare the attributes based on your event’s needs. Consider accessibility and location, reputation and pedigree, course difficulty and routing, golf course conditioning, practice facilities, food and beverage offerings, facilities, space for ancillary activities (auctions, merchandise, demonstrations, clinics), on-course amenities, merchandise assortment, tournament gifting and professional staff.
Should the difficulty of a course factor into my decision making?
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 year after year. Remember, events are designed to be fun and usually people participate to support a charity or special cause.
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.
In short, find an appropriate golf course for the abilities of your golfers and set it up to be FUN!
Should the size of my tournament impact what particular venue would be a good host?
Definitely. Some facilities handle hundreds of outings every year, even on multiple courses, and have professional staff that can guide you through the planning process.
Does the tournament entry fee correlate with the price to use the golf course?
Like a business, event expenses should not outpace your revenue. Choosing an expensive course will likely impact the 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.
What special services should be considered or requested?
Rely on the professionals to guide and assist through the process. Experienced tournament planners can take care of some of the tournament nitty gritty, allowing you time to greet guests and sponsors, organize volunteers, and see to other details. Ask for their assistance with pairings and scoring, cart staging and custom cart signage, registration set-up, customized scorecards and rules sheets, on-course contests, pre-golf clinics and logoed merchandise for tee gifts and awards.
Many clubs even offer a customizable event website with the ability to collect registrations and payment.
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.
Patrick Damer is the Vice President of Marketing for Arcis Golf. To reach Patrick for questions about booking a tournament, email email@example.com.