Charity Golf Network

Your source for information about hosting a charity golf tournament.

CGN member Nina Renaud and I were swapping ideas and I asked her if I could post our discussion where everybody could read it.  Here it is:

A charity tournament is a flipping amateur event, and I can't believe how many morons post "advice" that publicizing big prizes for the winners will attract players. What that does is attract cheaters and sandbaggers, and guarantee speculation, if not outright accusations and complaints, about rules violations, creative scorekeeping, team-stacking, unfair handicapping, or all of the above, at the banquet. Not to mention that such talk harms the charity's reputation, and makes it more difficult to recruit players the following year.


That goes at least double if the "goodie bag" that all players receive was a plastic sack with some donated trinkets and coupons no one will ever use. Amateur golfers who respect the rules play for the honor of winning. And planners need to realize that there is very little correlation between the value of supporters and donors to their cause and their golf skills or performance on the course on any given day.

You will not hear complaints about cheating if you put at least one nice gift in the goodie bag every player receives just for registering and supporting your cause, award the winners symbolic prizes, and use all donations of real value to generate additional proceeds for the charity. Auction those off, or use them to help sell tickets for a prize drawing. Everyone will feel like a winner - who had a fair chance of being a big winner.


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I talk about that in my book. Nothing will wreck the camaraderie and good-time-had-by-all of a charity golf tournament faster than cash or big prizes. It is a sad truth that many golfers are not entirely honest people and will cheat like bandits if there is an incentive to do so. Whoever wins the tournament, there will be some grousing about their having cheated or brought a "ringer" onto their team or something like that. If there's money involved, the grousing gets nasty and someone inevitably blames the cheating on the charity.

Like Nina said, put a nice quality golf shirt and hat in the bag - something that is a hot brand of shirt and of good lasting quality. That way your charity and your tournament get advertised at golf courses all over the area, because the golfers will wear your gear if it's good stuff.

How do you pay for these high priced goodies? Sponsors, of course!

Amen Nina!

Allow me to draw a little extra attention to what Nina said about fund raising tournaments NOT being about a hard core golf competition. It's about a day of relationship building between supporters, potential new supporters and an organization that makes a difference because of their support. The golf competition and skill level of the players is coincidental. It is best (for the organization) to keep it that way, too.

The day of the tournament is a day to keep an eye out for potential new committee members and / or new board members. If the focus of the tournament committee and organization's staff is on creating THAT kind of atmosphere -- while maximizing the stink out of the income -- we end up with a darn good day!

Can't overestimate the importance of using your golf tournament to prospect for serious donors - the kind that can put a million bucks into your capital campaign and not blink. We had this one guy one year, didn't seem much of a much. He used to teach elderly society matrons to do the Cha-Cha at a local dance studio. Turns out he married the unhappy wife of one of the towns really big deal guys. Her piece of the conjugal pie (and by association our dancer friend's) was so huge they had to give away 40 million just before Christmas last year to avoid a bunch of taxes. Forty mill in 30 days. Mind boggling!

On reflection, somebody should have been following him around polishing his clubs for him.

Whew! You never know who's going to show up.
Great story, Tom. Guess you missed the boat on polishing his clubs - but you might invite him to serve as "honorary chair" for your next tournament.
You hit the nail on the head, Tad. We call charity events "tournaments" and organize them as competitions because most players expect it, and many enjoy it, but they're not about competition. We don't hold tournaments to find out who plays well, and who doesn't. We hold them to raise money and awareness for a cause, build relationships, and show the players a good time. Big prizes don't promote any of those goals - they're more likely to defeat them.
Those looking for "hard core golf competition" should look to organizations like state golf associations that do hold tournaments for the purpose of determining who best performs on the course. They still won't be winning any cash or valuable prizes, though. USGA rules prohibit them in amateur competition. In fact, any player who accepts a cash prize of any amount, or merchandise worth over $750 at retail, in a golf competition automatically becomes a professional.
Good point. I forgot about that, but it's true. If you offer cash prizes, you can mess up a golfer's amateur standing and make him ineligible for certain tournaments.

Thanks Nina.


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