Part of being an association manager or event planner is looking at ways to connect members of the association with suppliers and other stakeholders within the industry. Golf is a great mechanism to achieve this connection.

The benefits of hosting a golf tournament for your association include:

  • Accessibility – Golf is a game that many people play and some are very accomplished at. Those that aren’t good are still willing to play golf for fun.
  • Connection – A good method of getting people together in a casual atmosphere to talk about business and get to know each other on a personal note.
  • Introduction to New Products and Services – Opportunity for suppliers to get in front of their customers and showcase and talk about their products and services (suppliers can set up as hole sponsors, prize sponsors or just golf with customers).
  • New Revenue – It can be an annual event that can grow and add a source of revenue to the association.

For all the benefits of hosting a tournament for your association you need to be aware that organizing the tournament does require significant resources. Staff time is a valuable commodity in any association so dedicating staff resources towards a tournament needs to be weighed against the value it offers members and suppliers.

If staff time isn’t available to run the tournament then creating a committee from within the membership with a staff liaison works quite well. Usually the avid golfers are more than happy to volunteer their time to a golf tournament and their passion and connection to the game makes for a highly energized day.

An Event Manager Guide to A Good Day on the Golf Course

Your organizing committee should focus on a few simple concepts when building the day. I participated in a larger fundraising tournament many years ago. When the organizing committee talked about the experience they wanted the golfer to have they focused on a few basic things. We called in the 3 F’s for the day, Fun, Food & Fluids. Fun relates to the activities your golfers participate in at each hole. Food relates to how well fed the golfers are (before, during and afterwards). Fluids relates to the beverages consumed on the golf course (water, beer, Gatorade, etc.). You do these three things well and golfers will come back every year for more opportunities to network with members and suppliers.

The format of play for your tournament is important to choose carefully. There are a number of variations available and you can check them out at this website Most of the tournaments I have coordinated with clients have been the Texas Scramble format as it tends to be a game that allows all levels of golfers (accomplished or not so accomplished) to feel good about their play and their contribution to team play. Whatever format you choose make sure it is as inclusive as possible so not to scare away the not so avid golfers.

We took over managing an association recently including the management of their annual golf tournament. The group is a business networking group so getting participation is important to create value for members and create another form of connection. This client decided to make the golf format a Texas Scramble to make sure as many members as possible would attend. In selling the tournament to members the emphasis is on coming out and making a fun day and not taking the game of golf too seriously. This has worked really well in getting members to attend.

I work with another client, which is a trade association so connecting suppliers and the dealer members together is the primary goal of this tournament. Pairing dealer members with suppliers and mixing up the teams to make sure suppliers connect with their customers or potential customers is of the upmost importance. Getting a strong dealer turn out and a strong supplier turnout makes for a great day of golf and networking.

As you can see there are many benefits in hosting a golf tournament for your association members. The key is to determine what your objective for the tournament is and then to assess if there is enough interest in your association membership base to warrant the effort to put a tournament on.

If the answer to both those questions are clear, then swing into action and put the resources in place to make it happen.