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How to run a charity golf tournament

Download the full charity golf tournament fundraiser in a box that includes checklists and tasks.

1. Introduction

A charity golf tournament is an excellent way to raise money for a special cause. 

Hosting a tournament or event and attracting teams to enjoy a fun day of golfing and socializing is a smart way to raise money in your community.  

People register for your event, and then compete on the day for a number of great prizes and honors. These are exciting team building experiences that support the worthy causes you love. 

The events can be small and tasteful, or large and dynamic depending on your fundraising goal and budget. A superb golf event often becomes a popular annual fundraiser.

Benefits include:

  • Makes fundraising exciting
  • Improves golf skills
  • Enhances teamwork skill
  • Inspires friendly competition
  • Promotes community support
  • Creates bonding experiences

Our job is to make your charity golf tournament an extraordinary experience. 

2. Committee

You’ll need a planning committee to organize, plan and manage your golf event.  

Scale is the most important consideration when building your core committee team. Traditionally you needed large teams to pull off a fundraising event at a golf course. 

With RallyUp, the admin, registration, and payments are automated, so you only need a core team of people to execute the strategy, events and promotional side of the campaign. 

We recommend a team of 5 to pull off a successful golf event. You’ll need a committee chair, a strategist, an events coordinator, a marketing professional and a content creator. 

Volunteers and additional roles can be assigned under these core functions. 

3. Scheduling

It’s time to consider your timelines and dates. On average it takes charity golf events several months to create, plan and execute successfully. 

Most successful ‘golf for a cause’ fundraisers last a single day, and are run either on a Saturday or a Sunday. Having your event on a weekend will lead to higher ticket sales and attendance. 

Weekday golf events commonly kick off after 12-1pm for half day experiences, which gives people time to get work done in the mornings.  

Large companies also enjoy booking weekend teambuilding golf clinics for their employees, which makes up part of their CSR programs. 

Think about these variables

  • What date will you host your event on? 
  • Do you have enough time to promote and sell all your registrations? 
  • Will it be a half day event or a full day event? 
  • Does the time of year suit your main audience? 
  • Consider other corporate events happening on your chosen date. 
  • Is the event exclusive or can anyone buy tickets? 

Remember that golf events can involve a breakfast, rounds of golf, multiple concurrent events and post-match dinners. Allow for people to really enjoy themselves! 

Example Timelines 

  • A nonprofit runs a half day golf event for 10 teams of 4 people. They meet at the course, play a few rounds, then adjourn to the club for a late lunch and a silent auction.
  • A company runs a full day golf event to support a cause, and employees are encouraged to register as individuals or as a foursome. Sponsors are secured, multiple games are played, workshops are run, and prizes are awarded at the end of the day at an evening dinner event.

4. Goal Setting

A golf event is first and foremost a fundraiser, so you need to consider budgets and goals. Chat with your committee to determine the ideal fundraising goal for your cause. 

To do this you’ll need to calculate your overall golf event budget to better understand how much money you’ll need to raise to cover expenses and earn enough to support your cause. 

Always work with conservative estimates. It’s better to be too conservative than too optimistic when it comes to golf fundraising. 

When setting your goal, make sure to

  • Understand your overall event budget 
  • Determine your ideal fundraising goal 

You’re aiming to sell out of your tickets, but to make sure your costs are covered and money is raised – it’s a best practice to aim for 3X your expenses as your overall income goal. 

TIP! 

  • The average 18-hole golf course can comfortably host 36 teams of 4, or 144 golfers 
  • The average 9-hole golf course can comfortably host 18 teams of 4, or 72 players 

Remember that a golf experience gathers your donors, but ticket sales are only one source of revenue. Many golf experiences include auctions, raffles, a-thons and other fundraising types to collect donations from the crowd during the day. 

5. Registration

Golf courses can only accommodate a limited amount of people, so every event is quite exclusive. 

Your committee needs to decide who is allowed to register for the event, and who is invited.  

You’ll have golfer registration, but also public tickets for sale in case people want to attend but not play the game. This should be encouraged so that you can raise money from non-players too. For example, non-golfers can register just for a “Dinner & Drink” ticket or buy tickets into a raffle. 

When planning golfer registration, make sure to:  

  • Understand how many golfers will participate before booking your course 
  • Understand their income level to effectively set your fundraising goal 

On RallyUp, registration takes place online – which means reaching out via email or social media is a great way to invite people to register. A direct link will take them right to your branded registration page. 

Spend some time mocking up the rules of entry to your tournament. Your committee event coordinator should chat with your chosen golf course about terms of use inclusions.  

6. Location Selection

Your committee will need to carefully review and book a golf course that has your required capacity and meeting space. 

Make sure that you reserve your chosen golf course early. It’s common practice to decide on how many people you’ll need to accommodate before booking the course.  

Keep these factors in mind

  • Some golf courses are more challenging than others 
  • Golf course locations vary in terms of size and cost 
  • The quality of staff and support at the course 
  • The facilities they offer (restaurants, food, event spaces) 
  • Parking facilities 
  • Nearby hotels that might offer you a special rate 

Your main expense will be booking the golf course, so make a wise choice that suits your budget. 

7. Registration Pricing

Your team needs to set an accurate and relevant ticket price for your golfers.  

This will be based on your expenses and fundraising goal. Remember, your registrations aren’t the only income source at your golfing event. You may also be running raffles, auctions and accepting direct donations. 

It is a good idea to make sure that your sales cover at least 2X your expenses to make sure that your goals are achieved. Anything raised above that is extra! 

When setting registration pricing, make sure to:  

  • Understand how many registrations you have to sell to break even 
  • Price your registrations to sell out to attract more sponsors 
  • Don’t set your registration cost too high or they won’t sell 

Sponsorships can significantly reduce the cost of running a golf event, which means more money goes to your cause. Lots of first-time golf events only break even, because they overestimate the expected registrations, the sponsors that can be secured and the people who donate on the day of the event.  

It takes time to build momentum! 

8. Securing Sponsorships

Sponsors greatly reduce your costs and they come from all over your local area. 

If you plan on making this an annual event, building relationships with the right sponsors will ensure that you can negate your running costs, support your cause and have fun doing it! 

Tips

  • Encourage your sponsors to actually play golf in your event 
  • Introduce your sponsors to the people who help the cause you’re supporting 
  • Encourage your sponsors to use their media to promote your event 
  • The right sponsors will help you make the event fun, memorable and repeatable 

Make sure that you have the main details of your event ready to share with your potential sponsors. Show them photos, media and share your plans with them. Get them involved! 

Offer sponsor package benefits

  • Sponsor name printed on all materials / merchandise 
  • Sponsor’s name worn by golfers in the tournament 
  • Sponsors have displays or booths at the events 
  • Sponsors get to award the prizes 

Whatever you do, ask for support based on the size of their company. A small, privately owned restaurant may not be able to sponsor your entire event but they may be able to cover the food or beverage costs. Segment each of your sponsor packages and assign a dollar amount to them so people can choose. 

Types of Sponsors:

  • Event sponsor
  • Presenting sponsor
  • Title sponsor
  • Placement sponsors (gold, silver, bronze)
  • Putting sponsor
  • Long driver sponsor
  • Hold in one sponsor
  • Drinks sponsor
  • Lunch sponsor
  • Dinner sponsor
  • Accommodation sponsor
  • Closest to the pin sponsor
  • Hole flag sponsor
  • Pin flag sponsor
  • Player gift sponsor
  • Awards/prize sponsor

9. Cause Promotion

Placing your chosen cause at the center of your event is important to inspire donations, registration sales and sponsorships. 

Spend some time creating different cause promotion strategies – flyers, email blasts, social media posts and text-to-register promotions to get the word out about your golf event.  

Your marketing and content creation team will be assigned volunteers who will work on making sure that everyone in your community knows about your golf tournament.  

RallyUp gives you many free promotional tools, so take advantage of them if your budget is limited. Don’t forget to tell everyone about the other activities you’ll have at the event, which will encourage families to buy general tickets and donate to your cause on the day. 

10. Event Pacing

Golf is a slow game, but that doesn’t mean your tournament has to be boring.  

There are many ways you and your team can make it dynamic, exciting and fun – for everyone involved at the event. 

Tournament Styles:

Pro-am 

Celeb-am 

Night golf 

Shoot Out 

Golf-a-thon 

1 Day 

2 Day 

3 Day 

Weekender 

When planning event pacing, make sure to: 

  • Keep total rounds to 4.5 – 5 hours maximum 
  • Have clearly defined times for different experiences 
  • Pick a golf format that suits your player’s experience levels 

Some golfers aren’t competitive about the game, but they love playing it. If this is the case, you should set a golf format that is less challenging and will help people enjoy the day without pressure.  

When deciding on your golf format, consider: 

  • Scrambles are great for beginners and casual golfers 
  • Best balls are fun for intermediate golfers 
  • Match play is great for intermediate and pro golfers 
  • Stroke play is best for strong golfers 

Choose from these formats: 

Handicaps 

Nassau 

Stroke Play 

Peoria 

2 Man Scramble 

4 Man Scramble 

Alternate Shot 

Medal Play 

Scheid System 

Individual 

Modified Scramble 

2 Man Best Ball 

4 Man Best Ball 

Callaway 

 

*Chat with your golf course about these styles and which would suit your audience.  

11. Game Ideas

A golf event isn’t just about golf – it’s about getting together and having a good time. 

It’s so much fun to include mini-contests in your tournament. It will inspire your golfers to do better and give them more opportunities to win prizes.  

This is especially fun if your golfers and spectators are novices and intermediate players. These games are also fantastic for team building, and smaller groups of golfers. 

Contest Ideas: 

  • Hole in one contest 
  • Long putt contest 
  • Women’s closest to the pin 
  • Men’s straight drive 

Games

Woodies 

Sandies 

Gambling Hole 

On Your Knees Drive 

Mulligans 

5 Iron Hole 

String Sales 

Skins 

Emergency Mulligans 

12. Prize Selection

The better your prizes, the more registrations you’ll sell and sponsors you’ll get.  

That’s why it’s important that your prizes really stand out. 

Make a list of all the prizes you’ll need for your tournament and get your events coordinator and marketing team on matching these with sponsors. If you’re also running a raffle and/or auction at the event, you can add prizes to these fundraisers as well.  

RallyUp also offers unique travel prizes with our partner Winspire – and you only have to pay them once your golf tournament is over and your proceeds have been collected. 

Prize Suggestions: 

  • 1st, 2nd, 3rd place prizes related to travel 
  • Cash prizes 
  • Cars, boats, jet skis, appliances 
  • Jewelry, gift vouchers 
  • Golf related prizes (clubs, carts, memberships)  
  • Golf with a celebrity 

It’s also a great idea to organize arrival goodie bags for your golfers with event t-shirts and fun extras. RallyUp helps you acquire this merchandise through one of our partners. 

13. Post-Game Events

Once the actual golf is finished it’s common to host a lunch or dinner, while totals are tallied and preparations are made for the awards ceremony. 

After eating and drinking, it’s nice to have everyone in a central place to announce the winners, hear amazing speeches and to award the prizes. 

Take lots of video and photographs of these events to use in future golf tournaments. Lead up to the big moment where the top 3 winners get their trophies and prizes. 

Throughout the post-event you can encourage people to donate to your cause and announce prizes for people or teams who donate the most. 

After your big winners, announce the total raised for your cause and hear from your cause representatives. Then get them to hand out the prizes to the winning donors.  

Resources

Charity golf tournament fundraiser-in-a-box with checklists and tasks

Get started checklist for creating a charity golf tournament using RallyUp

Charity golf tournament email templates and supplemental materials

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