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Golf Tournament Marketing...Greed is Good

Tom Pasha

As we know, golf tournaments are excellent ways to develop corporate contacts, increase sales leads, become an active part of the community and develop long-term relationships.  What they are also good at is making donations to worthy charities and offsetting corporate costs.

With that in mind, I remember a quote to inspire golf planners as they work to increase revenue for their charity or corporation:

 “The point is, ladies and gentleman, that Greed -- for lack of a better word -- is Good.  Greed is right… Greed works… Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.                                                                                                           

“Greed, in all of its forms -- greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge -- has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

--Gordon Gekko, “Wall Street,” 1987

Simply put, to be effective, sometimes a corporate or charity golf planner has to be a little “greedy.” 

While Gordon Gekko may not have been speaking to golf tournament planners, what he said applies to us.  If we are a little greedy, we can increase our donations and deliver more revenue for our charities and corporations by looking for ways to increase revenue and decrease expenses.  While the average charity golf tournament netted only $5,000, the PGA raised over $1 billion in contributions, you know there’s a huge potential to drive revenue from our tournaments.

Here in Golf Event Magazine, you’ll see sections devoted to prizes, tee-gifts, and logistics, but revenue is the key goal of any tournament.  To increase revenue and donations, here is short list of items you may consider for your next golf event.

We’ll look at areas to increase revenue and decrease expenses, to make your next tournament more profitable.  From registration, to sponsorships and increasing donations and controlling costs, there are ways to get a little greedy and increase your revenue.

First, the most important task is to sign up a full field of golfers for every tournament.  With a full field tournament of 144 golfers, you can charge more for sponsorships, increase donations, increase results at a silent auction or raffle, and deliver more revenue.

Next, when was the last time you increased tournament fees?  Once your tournament costs are covered, anything you net over that is profit, so make sure you are charging enough.  You may want to talk to your golf pro and ask what similar tournaments charge for their events, as a way to see if you may be undercharging.  You may be able to extend a better rate for foursomes, if you charge more for individual golfers.  If you can increase your registration by just $50 per golfer, you can net more than $7200 towards your charity for a full-field tournament.

Also, be sure to ask your current golfers if there is a department in their company they would like to challenge at a tournament.  You can set up teams to compete with each other.  If you are running a charity fundraiser, promote the fact that the charity is a 501c3 non-profit group—a check written to the charity is then a tax-deductible donation for your golfers.

Many non-profit tournaments will recruit a Sponsorship Chairman with a team of volunteer salespeople dedicated to driving sponsorships and donations.  Sponsorships are the true profit for any tournament, as there are no expenses attached to them.  You’ll keep every dollar you collect, so a good sponsorship program is critical.  You can sell tee-signs, skill contests, signage on the golf carts, F&B, the opening continental breakfast and the closing awards luncheon, all to sponsors who want exposure to your golfers.  Many tournaments even sell their name to two or more non-competitive companies, who want the exposure and want to be an active part of the community.  

While selling sponsors, it’s a good idea to sell more than the standard tee-signs and pin flags to increase revenue. One sponsor gave out a dozen logo golf balls to each golfer, after the round with a thank-you note and a business card.  Because their gift balls were not used that day, the corporate sponsor received several thank-you notes and business as a result of their sponsorship.

Another idea is to sell multiple years of sponsorship—why do we sell tournaments one year at a time, when we can have a guaranteed revenue source and create demand from other sponsors by selling multiple years?  For higher-priced sponsors, you may sell display tables at the reception, silent auction items and a closing hole-in-one contest with an announcement greeting from the sponsor.

An area that is often overlooked in raising non-profit revenue is soliciting pure donations for the charity, in exchange for an announcement at the awards luncheon.  If approached correctly, top sponsors may agree to a challenge match of other donations received up to a set amount and everything goes to the charity.

During the awards luncheon, people appreciate seeing the money presented, so be sure to invite a representative to the tournament to actually receive a check.  While the “surfboard-sized” check may be a bit overdone, it is a great way to increase donations and get some positive public relations.  It’s also a great way to attract local news coverage of the check presentation drive media attention to your charity.

After increasing registrations, sponsorships and donations, the next step is to minimize your expenses, so you can generate the maximum revenue for your company or charity.  It starts when you book the tournament—speak with the golf course tournament director or head pro and ask what teetimes are typically slower for them, and might be discounted for your group.  Most courses have tournament times available on Mondays and Tuesdays, and sometimes Friday afternoon is available at a discount.   If you can be flexible about the time and date of the tournament, be sure to reduce this expense to increase your revenue.

You may offer to trade your list of golfers for a discount for your tournament.  Many courses are eager to reach new players for tournaments and individual play, so additional discounts might be discussed by sharing your roster of 144 players. 

Another area where expenses can appear is in food and beverage.  In this case, you may  have a local restaurant or beverage purveyor supply product, in addition to their standard sponsorship.  Many courses charge a service fee for outside merchandise or product, but this charge may be reduced or eliminated to help maximize your donation to charity.

Finally, there are lots of ways to increase revenue and decrease expenses, so you can make the most of your next tournament.  You might go to the website for the Golf Event Managers Association, at www.golfeventmanagers.com, and look over the free downloads and forms that are available to get you started. 

With a little effort, you can make a big difference in growing your revenue or charitable donation, and by being just a little greedy, you can prove that Gordon Gekko may have been on to something...

Tel: 407-891-2252 | Fax: 407-891-6428 | E-mail: tpasha@contactplan.com | www.contactplan.com

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