CORPORATE GOLF OUTINGS

10 Keys to Planning Your Next Group Golf Event

For many of us, a round of golf is one of life’s greatest pleasures. When you’re swinging it well, a solo round of golf can be a tranquil, refreshing experience.

Contrastingly, a group golf event can be a chaotic, stressful nightmare. As the mastermind behind a group golf event, you need to be proactive in your planning to ensure that all golfers have a great time and enjoy themselves.

Planning these events can be quite challenging because the logistics and minor details can become overwhelming. However, with a few simple tips and tricks, you can plan an amazing event!

We compiled this list to help plan your next group golf outing. Take a look, and feel free to ask any questions in the comment section.

1. Define the Scope of Your Group Golf Event

How big is this event going to be? How many golfers, spectators, clubhouse boozers, etc.?

Establishing a target number of participants will go a long way in answering future questions.

From format to budgeting, the overall scope of the event must be answered before planning additional aspects of the event.

2. Pick the Course to Match Your Field

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Know the type of golfers you wish to attract to your event.

Will course quality matter to them? Will price be a deciding factor? Will they care more about playing golf or enjoying the event?

For most corporate events and charity events, participants are coming to socialize and enjoy the booze. For this crowd, a public course with a nice clubhouse will suffice.

If you are hosting an event for above average caliber golfers, you may want to consider a private course. This will be a little pricier per player, but it is likely the course will be more “up to par” for your participants.

It is likely that price will be a factor in attracting or deterring event participants. Participants who care more about playing golf than experiencing the actual event are typically willing to shell out more money to play a nicer course. Folks who don’t care about the game as much are likely to be more price sensitive.

Picking the right course to host your event is important, and not all courses are the same. Do some research and get a few quotes before making your final selection.

3. Create Your Budget

Once you have an idea of the size of the event that you’re organizing, the next step is to determine the kind of budget you will need. You need to know the overall budget and what the cost would be to add an additional player.

Fixed Costs

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Start with the basics

First you’ll need to determine what the fixed cost will be. If you need an Econ 101 refresher, fixed costs are costs that will not change based on an increase in supply (event participants in this instance).

What are the flat rates you will need to pay? Clubhouse rental? Base for bar and/or food services? Prizes? Staff?

The fixed costs will decrease on a per player basis as you add more players. It is very important to factor in fixed costs when determining the event fee amount each participant will need to pay.

Variable Costs

Variable costs are essential to understanding where your budget needs to be. These are the costs that are per participant dependent. These costs will increase or decrease with the addition or subtraction of participants.

What are the fees needed to add one individual? Green fees? Cart fees? Bar and/or food tickets?

Price Per Player Formula

Once you’ve determined both the fixed and variable costs for your event, you need to combine them to establish what the total cost per event participant will be. Follow this formula:

This formula will give you what each participant will need to pay in order for your event to break even.

It’s more likely you are budgeting before knowing the exact number of participants. When planning your event fee, underestimate the number of guests that will be attending.

3. Find Sponsorships

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Find sponsors!

Depending on the type and size of the event, you may want to seek and market sponsorship opportunities to local businesses.

Pro tip: Ask the hosting course if they know of any businesses that may be interested in sponsoring a hole or prize. They likely handle special events all the time and will have connections.

The standard is hole sponsorship. This is where a company pays a certain amount to advertise near a green or on a tee box. For big events, car dealerships may be interested in parking a car at a tee-box.

Often, a business may sponsor an entire tournament, and/or want to have their business promoted around the club-house, for example.

If you’re giving away prizes, be sure to ask all potential sponsors if they wish to sponsor the events prizes.

If you are securing sponsorship for a charity, try to target groups that have some form of correlation with the cause that you’re trying to promote.

If you are looking to secure sponsorship for a general event (corporate, for-profit, group related), approach businesses who target your participants as customers.

Having demographic data points to reference can go a long way when securing a sponsor.

For example, you may want to have a general idea of your field’s average income. Let’s say if the field’s average income is $250,000/year, it would make more sense to approach Mercedes than Hyundai.

5. Know the Skill Level of the Field

As previously mentioned in the course section, an important part of keeping a group golf event enjoyable is picking the format and course to match the skills of your participants.

Are the players new to golf? Or do they play every week?

If you’re hosting participants who have little experience playing golf, a par-3 course may be a better call than a full-size one. Likewise, you may want to choose a format that will still be enjoyable for beginners, like a golf scramble.

If your participants are more experienced, you can choose a more challenging course and may want to pick a format where each player plays their own ball.

It’s likely you’re a decent golfer – put yourself in the shoes of the worst player in the field. What format will they find most enjoyable?

6. Choose the Most Suitable Format

When it comes to scoring formats, there are a few options that are dependent on the type of golfers playing and the range in skill level.

Scramble:

This is a great format when the field has a wide range of skill levels. This format has multiple variations, but here are the basics:

  • Players play in groups, usually two or four-person teams
  • Everyone tees on every hole
  • Each person then plays their second shot from where the team’s best drive lands
  • The third shot is then played from the best second shot’s location and so on until the hole is finished
  • The score only counts the best shot from each location

This format is great for beginners, as they get to drop their ball at a much better spot on drives and iron shots.

This format is also a very quick way to play, as players who don’t hit the ball far do not have to play every shot.

Best Ball:

This format is perhaps the most straightforward format out. With players in two or four-person teams, the lowest score on each hole per team is taken as the team’s score. Here’s are the basic rules:

  • Players play in groups, usually two or four-person teams
  • Everyone plays their own ball to PGA rules
  • At the end of each hole, the player with the lowest score is recorded as the team’s score

This format is better for more experienced golfers who want to play their own ball.

Shamble:

This is a variation of a Golf Scramble and can be viewed as a combination of a Scramble and Best Ball.  Like both formats, players are grouped into teams. All players tee off, and like Scramble, the best drive is selected to play from.

From here, the rules switch to best ball rules and everyone plays their second shot on as their own ball. Here are the basics of Golf Shamble:

  • Players play in groups, usually two or four-person teams
  • Everyone tees on every hole
  • Each person then plays their second shot from where the team’s best drive lands
  • After the second shot, everyone plays their own ball to PGA rules
  • At the end of each hole, the player with the lowest score is recorded as the team’s score

This is also likely for more experienced golfers, however, this is a bad choice for a more serious event.

Variations

There are additional formats and variations that can be used to make the game more fun. Here are a couple variations you may want to add:

Scramble

  • Rotating shots
  • Minimum shot selection requirements
  • No back to back shots

Best Ball

  • Minimum scores selected per player
  • No back to back scoring per player
  • Max number of scores per player

Shamble

  • Alternating drives
  • Minimum number of selected drives/scores per player
  • No back to back scoring

7. Choosing Groups

Obviously, the golfing aspect of a group golf event will be enjoyable for anyone who likes golf.

However, the reception and post-golf activities will benefit greatly from a competitive field. Having a competitive field will give your participants something to talk about when the post-golf activities begin.

Take some time when you’re selecting teams. If you are hosting more advanced golfers, ask for their handicaps at signup and try to create evenly matched teams.

For less golf-focused events (likely a scramble format), pair your worst golfers with your more experienced players.

It may seem like a no-brainer, but for corporate events, try to place work friends together. It may seem like a good idea to mix teams up, but it’s not. People will enjoy the event much more if they get to play with their friends.

Real-Time Leaderboard Like the Pros

A really cool tool you can use to increase the competitiveness of your event is a Real-Time Leaderboard.

This will allow players to see how their team stacks up against the rest of the field while they’re still playing.

Just like the pros, a real-time leaderboard is updated whenever a team completes a hole.

This tool will greatly increase the competitive nature and engagement level of your event without hurting your budget.

8. Go Over Basic Golf Etiquette

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Courtesy GolfTEC

Nothing will piss off the hosting golf course more than your event participants not being respectful of the course or acting poorly in front of members of the club.

As the event organizer, you need to let beginner golfers know the basics of golf etiquette.

Where can or can’t participants drive the cart? When should they be quiet? What should they do when they take a huge chunk out of the ground?

These are just a few of the basic questions that need to be answered for your guest. Although it may seem innate to you and I, golf etiquette needs to be explained to those who are new to the game.

9. Find an Awesome Caterer

Good food and drinks can make any event a good time.

Let’s face it, for the bulk of group golf events your participants will care more about the food and drinks than the actual golf.

There are some exceptions, but typically hiring your own event caterer will be better than serving burgers and dogs cooked by the courses snack shack. Catering a smoker and having a slow-cooked pig is always a great way to feed your hungry golfers.

Courses will typically have caterers they recommend and like to work with. Scope out that list, but don’t be scared to find a caterer for yourself.

Alcohol wise, courses typically have a decent bar setup and will offer you a reasonable all-inclusive package if you go that route.

Depending on your crowd, it may be smart to have a limit to the number of drinks your participants may have on the event tab. For example, you may want to include 2 drink tickets per registration with a cash bar available if a participant wants more.

Caution: Open bars can be risky as one or two heavy drinkers can really run up the tab.

10. Have Cool Prizes

Great prizes increase the competitiveness and overall excitement of group golf events.

Offer prizes that your participants actually want.

As I mentioned before, sponsors may want to donate prizes. When that is the case, make recommendations. The marketing they are receiving is worth a quality prize. Make sure they don’t cheap out.

Don’t forget these additional prize areas:

Closest to the pin

Pick the easiest par three and give a prize to the golfer who knocks their tee shot the closest.

Use a marker to keep track of the closest shot. Each time a player lands within the existing mark, they should move the marker and add their name to the bottom of the list.

Longest Drive

On the straightest par 5, give a prize to the longest drive in the fairway.

Similar to the marking method for closest to the pin, continually track the longest drive.

Worst Score

This person has probably never won any sort of athletic event in their life. Reward them for their unathletic goofiness with a decent prize.

Don’t let anyone know about this prize or you may have some players playing for the bottom.

Grand Prize

Obviously, you won’t forget this one.

Make it worth the individual or team’s time. They probably took this event fairly seriously, so make sure they get their energy’s worth!

Concluding

Don’t procrastinate. Stay ahead of the curve and start planning your event now.

Know who your participants are and gear the event toward their needs. With a little research and work, you will plan an awesome event!

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