Feature – 2022 Tournament Planning Guide

Options Make for a Better Tournament

By Megan Calmes, Cowboys Golf Club

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 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.

Megan Calmes is the Senior Sales Director for DFW – Arcis Golf. To reach Megan about booking a tournament, email mcalmes@arcisgolf.com or call 817-722-2718.


Maximizing Profit

By Brad Dutler, Buffalo Creek Golf Club

What are some of the ways a venue can help keep costs down to help make as much money for the given charity?

Most of the costs centered around a venue are going to be fixed – they are roughly going to be the same whether there is an event or not at the venue.  The main variable expense is going to be staffing.  It is important to match the level of service with your expectations and the expectations of your players.  If you are trying to maximize your contribution to a charity, daily fee facilities most likely will be able to provide you with more available dates. Tournaments may be able to receive better pricing from venues by hosting the event mid-week as opposed to a Monday or a Friday.  You can charge the player the same amount but could see pricing decrease by possibly $10 a player or more thus increasing your contribution. Allowing a donated meal can also help reduce the overall payment to the venue and provide a sponsorship opportunity for a local restaurant.

 Additions of a long drive specialist, golf ball cannon, or other gimmicks can help raise additional funds. How are these beneficial to a tournament?

These additions are great ways to provide more fun for your participants. Who doesn’t like watching someone hit a drive 375 yards+ or the excitement centered around launching a golf ball through a specialized cannon?  Have this “buy-in” as either part of the entry fee or registration process so it does not take as much time on course.  This is a great way for events to raise additional funds for the charity and can separate your event from others which is important in the golfer’s decision-making process when deciding which tournaments to participate in.

 What are some of the risks involved with charging an entry fee and then asking for more donations on the course?

There must be a mix of charging an appropriate entry fee along with additional donations on course during play.  The original entry fee should provide value in the player’s mind, based on where the event is being hosted and what is included in the entry fee.  Providing additional fundraising opportunities are often expected, but golfers can get frustrated with multiple options once they arrive on tournament day.  A growing number of participants want to know what their total cost is going to be with no surprises!  Additional pressure applied toward donations the day of can turn golfers away from playing in your event in future years.  Plus, it will slow down the group’s pace of play the more fundraising opportunities there are on course which may be a reason why a player does not participate the following year.

What are some ways to make the outing fun and risk free, while still generating the maximum for the charity?

Raffles are always a great way to generate additional funds – if going the blind route, try to have it completed while golfers are out on the course.  Your players will appreciate not having to wait for every drawing after the event!  Save possibly 3-4 items for live auction after play but try to have most everything done prior to the awards ceremony. Create an all-inclusive donation opportunity at check-in ($20-$50 typically) which allows participation in all the special games/mulligans/string/raffles/putting contests/donation opportunities you have planned. Make a conscious effort to provide sponsorship opportunities for individuals and businesses as you create your fundraising budget.  These donations should be top of mind in the planning process and can provide the largest contributions to the charity.

 How important is the venue to ensure tournament planners can charge the maximum entry to help earn more for the cause involved?

The venue is very important to your overall tournament success.  You want to find a partner who matches the type of experience you are wanting to provide your guests.  If you are planning on hosting the event at a premium facility, golfers are typically expecting and willing to pay more for the event.  The experience, especially the service, is critical to the overall success, not only for this year, but for future years as well.

 Weather can be a concern in Texas. What are the prime months to book a tournament to avoid big weather, heat and cold?

There are traditionally two windows that several corporate and charity golf events tend to be hosted – April/May and September/October.  May events can at times be challenging with thunderstorms, but normally the temperatures and conditions justify the risk of your event participants getting a little wet. Great dates exist outside of these windows – early June and early November contain a number of excellent days and the demand for these dates normally isn’t as high.

For more information about Buffalo Creek Golf Club in Rockwall, visit www.buffalocreekgc.com or call 972-771-4003


Your Event, Resort-Style

By Bryan Woodward, Horseshoe Bay Resort

What are the benefits of hosting a golf tournament/charity outing at an out-of-town resort versus a local venue? 

The experience doesn’t stop on the golf course, it continues after play is over and before it begins the next day. We have on-site restaurants; we have a new dedicated golf pavilion for social gatherings, pairing parties, etc. We have the new waterfront beachside bar and the new 360 Sports Club; we also have the Whitewater grass putting green and two new clubhouses. We showcase great spaces that will act as a wonderful social environment for your guests.

Usually when an event occurs at a resort, there’s a pairings party the night before. Is that part overlooked sometimes, or is requested by most events?  

To pull off the perfect pairings party, we have a team of professionals to make sure it’s a quality experience. We can do a quick breakfast on the driving range and tailor any customer experience. We can handle whatever you want with whatever you need. That includes any location here with any food and any experience you want to create.

How involved should a tournament director expect the resort staff to be on the day of their event? 

I think very involved, but it’s a very collaborative effort. We can handle the pairings and the signs and all the things, which make the behind the scenes go well. We pride ourselves on customer service from the moment the guests arrive to the moment they leave.

Some people might be afraid of the resort event due to cost constraints… what do you tell tournament directors to assuage those fears?

Our resort has some seasonality to it, which means we have some flexibility in price. We have different rates for weekends and weekdays. If you don’t think it can work, just give us a try to see what we can do with value. Your players may find out they like this better.

Horseshoe Bay Resort has multiple courses of varying difficulty. How do you recommend a tournament director go about choosing a golf course at a multi-course resort?

It’s usually based on the number of players and what kind of tournament you want to create. Both Ram Rock and Apple Rock are based out of the same clubhouse. The smaller or more novice tournament may enjoy Slick Rock more. It can also depend on a tee time or shotgun start. We’re the only destination in the Continental U.S. with three Robert Trent Jones, Sr. courses so you can even play all three in a multi-day format.

Are there better days of the week or times of year to book resort tournaments, where price, conditions and availability are all reasonable?

We have a lot of group or corporate business who can only do a certain time or day like a Monday or a Friday. My best advice is to give us a call and do it sooner rather than later. The more out front we are on dates, the easier it is to make a better plan. We’ve got three courses you can play, so there are always openings. Seasonality wise, July and August would be ideal dates to be on the course in the morning and lakeside in the afternoon. 

You guys just underwent some serious renovations … how important is it for resorts to be constantly improving, and how can you utilize new renovations and digs to enhance tournament experiences?

Every tournament director is looking to impress their clients and take advantage of the limited time they have. We have world-class facilities at Horseshoe Bay Resort and they’re only getting better. We have two new Clubhouse Complexes with Cap Rock winning Golf Inc’s New Clubhouse of the year award. We are the best golf destination in the state of Texas.  Our owners are committed to spending the money it takes to always make the courses shine. When you come here, you’re treated well, you’ll have a great experience and will leave wanting to plan another trip back. 

For more information about booking an event at Horseshoe Bay Resort, visit www.hsbresort.com or call 830-598-7880. Bryan Woodward can be reached at bwoodward@hsbresort.com.


The VIP Experience

By Don Offill, Regional Tournament Sales Director, ClubCorp

How do you host a VIP Tournament with the pandemic?

Tournaments are a great way to entertain clients, colleagues and raise money for your cause during the pandemic. It is very important that you understand what safety measures the club has in place to create a fun and relaxing day for your guests. Starting with the planning process, understand how the day can be executed and capture ways to still deliver a WOW factor. Our tournaments offer a variety of options that include alternative registration processes to avoid lines to creating incredible outdoor reception areas for auctions, awards, and camaraderie. Our clubs cover every detail, so your guests feel safe and deliver the WOW leaving your players wanting to come back to your next tournament.

What can the club do to ensure the outing achieves a VIP Experience?

We are in the business of building relationships and enriching lives. That applies to tournaments as well, from pairing people with like interests, planning a drive through registration to minimize lines, to creating specialty drink stations for your guests. It is going the extra mile.

What are the best food and beverage offerings for a VIP tournament?

Today, food and beverage experiences are more important than ever. No one wants to golf for 4 hours hungry. Our clubs have created on-course stations that are culinary surprises for your players.  Our staff is at each station waiting to serve your guests, so they are being served with the VIP treatment and are on to the next hole enjoying the Chef’s special Kobe Slider or Ahi tacos. Elevating the food from a traditional boxed lunch and proving the server stations, make your guests feel special and add fun surprises throughout the day.

What unique offerings can I add to create a VIP Experience?

Adding special touches throughout the day is the best wat to create a VIP experience. For example, many clubs have carts with GPS, this also allows you to thank your sponsors when they aren’t expecting it. Our clubs can help you pre-order a shirt with logo and have that delivered to their home prior to your tournament, it is a great way to set the tone for a day full of surprises. Whether you want to serve the honoree’s favorite drink at the turn or plan a million-dollar shoot out, our clubs always have ideas to make your tournament one to remember.

In addition to golf, what are some other activities that could set the event apart from other tournaments participants have competed in?

We have so many. Our clubs are fantastic venues for things like Cornhole, Bocce Ball, Pickleball, Tennis, or even Ping Pong or Billiards tournaments. 

What prizes and packages make the tournament more unique?

Swag bags, tee prizes and awards create excitement. Everyone loves receiving a special gift. Our clubs work directly with the largest retailers in golf to provide you the hottest items at the best prices. One of the most unique offerings creating a shopping experience for your players. Whether it is before they play or a custom site that allows them to shop online, players can pick our items that they want and maybe wouldn’t get for themselves otherwise. These can vary from the latest driver to a pair of sunglasses, a gift for their spouse, it absolutely makes them feel special!

What is the benefit or choosing a ClubCorp club to host my VIP Tournament?

Our club professionals are experts in hosting tournaments. Whether you are hosting a small group of 32 players to 500 players, our teams can do it all. It’s much more than just choosing a great golf course. Our teams will plan the logistics and provide top notch services to make it a one-stop shop including planning expertise, culinary delights, on course contests, swag bags and prizes to a fond farewell. Hosting a tournament can be a lot of work, but when you choose to host at a ClubCorp club it becomes easy, and you can focus on your goals and lean on our tournament professionals to take care of the details.

You can find out more information about hosting an event at any of the ClubCorp properties by visiting their website. www.clubcorp.com


The Advantages of the Virtual Experience

By Paul Cox, iCompeteX

What is the main advantage of planning your outing at an indoor venue as opposed to an outdoor course?

It’s no secret that if you organize a tournament or charity function outdoors, you are then at the mercy of Mother Nature. There will be no rainouts in our comfortable climate-controlled facility with a wide array of food and drinks available at any time. Events are fun, exciting, and take about three hours to complete. There is no walking, no carts that run out of charge in the middle of your round, no rain outs, no sweltering heat, no wind, no lost balls, and no reason you can’t play your best round. And yes, you are more than welcome to bring your own clubs if you prefer. We will be happy to customize any fundraising, team building, company, or group party to suit every guest’s needs and price range.

Food and beverage programs are a major part of any successful tournament or corporate outing. What are the best ways to wow your clients with great food in an indoor setting?

If you have ever been just waiting for the turn to get your lukewarm generic hot dog, with lukewarm fixings, just so you can try to eat it before it gets cold, then you should consider letting us host your next golf outing or corporate event. We have a tasty variety of wings, tacos, and flatbreads that are always available to order.  As well as a great selection of delectable entrées and sharable appetizers.

And if you would like to have a drink or two while you play, ICX has three state-of-the-art bar concepts. We have the 360* Main Bar with a 20ft LED Video Wall. We have a Tequila and Whisky Mixology Bar, and a 40 flavor tap self-pour beer and wine wall where you can fill up at your leisure as you play and entertain your clients, colleagues, or friends. 

Being able to play multiple courses and see real time data on the same screen is a great way to entertain. Why is this an advantage for your outing?

We have the most technologically advanced simulators in the world.  You can track your swing speed, spin, and carry distance on our state-of-the-art launch monitors.  When you are playing Pebble Beach in our simulator, don’t be concerned if the ground moves beneath your feet. Our hydraulic leveling system lets you hit from the same slope that you see on your screen.  If it shows a five-degree slope at Pebble Beach, you will be hitting off the same five-degree slope on the simulator.  It adjusts automatically based on the real course contours. We also have exciting games for the novice, part-time player, or practice your way to the PGA Tour in a fun, relaxing, and climate-controlled atmosphere. ICX also offers professional club building and PGA level lessons for every person’s age and skill level. So, if you want to improve your game or get clubs to best fit your swing, we have you covered. 

Having other things to do during your event is a great addition to any tournament. For example, an indoor facility can offer other activities besides just golf. How can this help maximize profit for the charity?

We have party packages for all group types that include up to four activities – golf, axe throwing, darts, and baseball.  Our packages include a wide range of food and bar packages for all group types and price ranges. We have eight golf bays and suites, six baseball bays, 10 digital dart bays and eight individual axe throwing bays. If you like baseball, the pitch speeds can vary from 35mph to 100mph. ICX Baseball is fun and challenging for all ages and skill levels.  You can bring your team out to practice or try to hit dingers to show off to your friends. Our simulator throws fastballs, cut fastballs, curves, and sliders to challenge and entertain every player’s skill level.

Our darts are classic metal-tipped darts with regulation bristle board targets. Enjoy the ease, fun, and excitement of our state-of-the-art automatic scoring. This is only one in the great state of Texas!

Our axe throwing brings out the outdoorsman in all of us.  We have insanely fun games with digitalized and easy to use state of the art automatic scoring.

 How is a closest to the pin or a long drive challenge more fun on world famous courses?

Each simulator can play 50 courses as well as fun competitions and games. Long drives, putting, chipping, closet to the pin and hole-in-one contests for cash or prizes. Any one of these games is perfect to enhance your outing and potential earnings for your charity. We want to make sure we are giving your party, event or corporate team building event the best chance for success with all our different options.

iCompeteX has the most technologically advanced simulators in the world. Play exciting games for the novice or practice in a fun, relaxing and climate-controlled atmosphere. For information, visit www.icompetex.com


Ensuring a Return 

By Adena Wallace, City of Arlington

Where do I start when it comes to getting golfers to return to the course following a tournament? 

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 VIP Arlington experience for all players, sponsors, guests and volunteers. 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 Home Plate or 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, Home Plate 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 adena.wallace@arlingtontx.gov.