Feature – 2024 Tournament Planning Guide

Feature – 2024 Tournament Planning Guide

Options Make For A Better Tournament 

By Victoria Edwards • Director of Sales, 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.

Victoria Edwards is the Director of Sales at Cowboys Golf Club. To reach Victoria about booking a tournament, email vedwards@arcisgolf.com or call 817-722-2718. 

The VIP Experience

By Stephanie Reed • Regional Director Private Events, Invited Clubs

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 four 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 way 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 a 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 shootout, 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 is 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 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 of choosing an Invited 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 an Invited 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 Invited properties by visiting their website. www.invitedclubs.com

Ensuring a Return Visit

By Adena Wallace • Tournament and Events Manager, 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 Manager 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.

Why Choose a Public Facility?

By Bert Walker and Mark Viskozki

Trying to decide on a venue for your tournament or “Special Event”?  Think golf in Grand Prairie, Texas  

Grand Prairie is conveniently located in the heart of the Metroplex and offers two different courses that will suit everyone’s needs.

Tangle Ridge Golf Club

Who says it’s flat in Dallas? Tangle Ridge is unique in the DFW area, with a Hill Country feel that will challenge your senses and skills. This 18-hole championship public golf course features exciting elevation changes, subtle Champion Bermuda grass greens, tree-lined fairways, and water and sand hazards. Tangle Ridge caters to every level of player, with each hole varying in length, bunkering and style – offering a new direction, choice and experience every time you play. Tangle Ridge Golf Club was ranked No.1 in the “East Elite” category and No. 7 overall in the East category in the 2023 AG Best of Public rankings. Tangle Ridge also offers a spacious indoor pavilion for registration, post-tournament meals, scoring and awards presentation.  

Pricing varies depending on time of the year, day of the week and starting times. Call now and speak with one of our PGA Professionals to schedule your tournament or special event.

Pro Shop: 972-299-6837     Website: www.tangleridge.com

Prairie Lakes Golf Course

Looking for your next tournament or outing? Consider one of the most popular golf courses in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, Prairie Lakes Golf Course. Easily accessible from throughout the Metroplex, Prairie Lakes Golf Course has 27 holes, with tree-lined fairways, natural water hazards on all three nines, and an abundance of wildlife that is unique for the area. Fun, but challenging for every level of player, Prairie Lakes Golf Course is the perfect location to host your next tournament or outing.

Because of the uniqueness of having 27 holes, Prairie Lakes Golf Course can accommodate any size of tournament or outing, provide very personable nine-hole events, and take care of all tournament needs. With a pavilion that accommodates up to 150 participants, and the award-winning Crown’s BBQ, Prairie Lakes Golf Course is the perfect facility to host your next event.

Please call the Pro Shop for pricing, availability and menu options, or contact Bert Walker, PGA Head Golf Professional

Pro Shop: 972-237-4156     Email: bwalker@gptx.org

Bert Walker is the Head Golf Professional at Prairie Lakes Golf Course. Mark Viskozki is the Head Golf Professional at Tangle Ridge Golf Course.

New Superintendent, Course Renovations Make Tempest a Tournament Winner

By Art Stricklin

The combination of new, experienced Superintendent Ken Bowman, with nearly 20 years of East Texas experience, and a totally renovated course has made Tempest Golf Club in Gladewater an inviting destination for charity tournaments, members and outside play from all over North Texas and Northern Louisiana.

While Bowman, who arrived from the prestigious Willowbrook Country Club in Tyler, has only been at Tempest a few weeks, he can see the difference the Jeffrey Brauer renovation has made at the semi-private layout and knows it can only get better.

“Sure, it makes a huge difference because people want to see the changes in the courses and that generates great excitement to want to come and play it,” Bowman said.

The arrival of top course maintenance talent like Bowman, who helped grow the Golf Club at StoneBridge in Louisiana from its beginning stages to one of the top public courses in the area, before taking his considerable talents to Willowbrook, the top private club in East Texas, is another sign of progress for Tempest.

“Our five-year anniversary (in 2023) means we have gone from a brand-new golf course to five years with sustained success for a great layout and club,” said head golf professional Randy Wade. “It’s just amazing to see the work and the progress of this course for both members and people who come out regularly from Dallas/Fort Worth and Shreveport to play.

“The addition of top talent like Ken Bowman will only help us.”

Tempest, located between Tyler and Longview, has been around since the 1980s under a variety of names, but a total renovation in 2018 by Brauer with 12 new holes, with the passionate and dedicated ownership of New Orleans attorney Joe Bruno, made an incredible difference.

It was recently named the third-best public course you can play in Texas by Texas Monthly, the Best Dallas/Fort Worth Outlying course by AVIDGOLFER and Top 50 overall in the state by the Dallas Morning News.

“There is excitement about the new management style,” said Bowman, a Golf Course Superintendent Class A Member who graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor’s degree in Plant Science.

“All courses take a lot of work, but players always want to have good conditions.”

Another huge growth factor since the Brauer renovation has been the increased number of charity tournaments. Over the last five years, Wade has hosted some of the largest charity tournaments in the East Texas Region at Tempest and will have an even larger and more prestigious one in March.

For the first time, Tempest will host the Texas Warriors East Texas Celebrity Open, Tuesday, March 19, which will include dozens of celebrities from professional and college football, baseball and basketball … all open to the public to watch or participate in.

In addition, Tempest continues to host top amateur and college golf tournaments during the spring and the fall, including when former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo attempted to qualify for the U.S. Amateur.

“This is all the course you want right here,” Romo said. “I think it’s a great test.”

Bowman, who has worked with brand new courses from the ground up and has improved already existing ones like Tempest, said even if players only get to see a course once a year in a charity outing, they enjoy the changes in the course layout.

“Most courses will always have some type of charity fundraisers – that’s the foundation of the golf business – but players will want to see updates and changes, that’s what gets them excited.”

The addition of a turf expert like Bowman, the dedicated Tempest golf team led by Wade and his staff, plus the extensive meeting and wedding space at Tempest – along with the iconic Neptune’s Bar & Grill dining experience, which is available to all golfers and non-golfers alike – has made East Texas’ best even better.

“We’ve had a lot of golfing highlights over the last five years at Tempest Golf Club, but I feel like we’re just getting started for more,” said Wade.

​Thanks to course renovations, the addition of Superintendent Bowman plus longtime leaders, the future is bright enough at Tempest. You may even need to wear sunglasses when you arrive.

For more information, go to www.tempestgolfclub.com or call 903-984-5335.