A recent Golf Digest article suggests there are three types of circle-the-date holidays for golfers: Watch- ing major tournaments; receiving golf-related gifts at Christmas and on birthdays; and playing in club championships, golf trips or golf outings. But, while attendees view the third category, particularly the golf outing, as a respite from work, planners see them as a production where lack of planning can quite conceivably cause an event to fail. Here are five tips designed to drive planners to a better golf outing.
1). Know your goals.
The first step to take, long before event numbers are turned in, is to define the purpose of that specific golf event. Is it fundraising? Is it networking? Is it a reward? “That alone will deter- mine much of what goes on the day of the event,” states Jim Buyze, PGA professional at Wild Ridge and Mill Run golf courses in Eau Claire. “Depending on the group, their time on the course may be directly about the golf experience, but conversely, the day could be focused on just being outside together and having a party.”
Jennifer Dalsbo, golf sales manager at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva, reports knowing the answer to a handful of key questions can drive the planning process to a better outcome. Among the questions are: Is this a company retreat? Are you raising money for charity? How large do you want this to grow? What are your key goals? “Planners need to be thinking years ahead, treating the golf outing as they would a business; planning each year with strategy and forecasted growth, while being open to change,” she says.
2). Plan for networking.
Whatever the defined goal, most corporate golf outings put a single purpose first—networking. This is where things can get tricky if the event only centers around golf. Dalsbo states, “Guests expect to network at larger tournaments and will not return next year if they don’t make solid connections. You need to think about whom you would want to network with and approach your sponsor list so that it’s beneficial to your attendees.”
From there, Dalsbo recommends positioning representatives at sponsor holes. “Staking a sign in the ground is not enough,” she says. “Encourage your sponsors to hand out food or beverage samples, along with their golf-themed items.”
3). Make it fun for all skill levels.
There are ways to tweak golf outings to make them appealing for all abilities. Dalsbo suggests opening the day with a ball toss, where the winner takes home a pot of cash; using a scramble format; incorporating a golf clinic for beginners; and chipping contests as ways to make a large outing memorable for everyone.
Meanwhile, Buyze recommends playing nine holes instead of the full 18 when there are many inexperienced golfers. He also advises hiring a golf profession- al to go along with each group. These professionals can help golfers and non-golfers improve their swing. “Courses are building more tee boxes, so we can adjust to experience and ability levels, and can put better players out there with beginners,” he adds. “It’s not always about the golf, but who you’re golfing with.”
4). Consider extra touches.
Everyone loves free stuff and the chance to win a prize. Grand Geneva, for instance, offers a hole-in-one contest for a $6 upcharge. The payout is $10,000 and the course sees at least one winner every year. Other details are also offered by the resort for a small fee. However, planners also can strike out on their own to mix in a few extras. “One well received idea is putting welcome gifts in the golf carts, such as golf apparel, a sleeve of golf balls and a cooler stocked with beverages prior to tee off,” Dalsbo says.
Guests welcome gifts of appreciation, which can be ordered through the course itself, reports Buyze. “It can be easier for planners to order these things through the course rather than going out and shopping around,” he says. “We can have things shipped right here and companies often are surprised at the pricing they can get through a golf shop.”
5). Plan for the unexpected.
While die-hard golfers may stick it out in the rain, nothing puts a damper on a golf outing like a torrential downpour. Planners can— and should—prepare for the possibility of rain when organizing a golf outing. Providing golfers with custom rain gear, covered in sponsor logos, is one way to hedge your bets against Mother Nature. In addition, Dalsbo says to “inquire about renting indoor golf simulators (every course has them). They can be placed in the banquet room and don’t require much space.”
She also recommends making the most of a facility’s other amenities. Grand Geneva, for example, has a fitness center, a full-service spa, a banquet space to move the meal indoors, and indoor games like Giant Jenga; all of which can be used to pass the time as golfers wait out the rain.
Organizing a winning golf outing is no easy task, but creative thinking and proper planning can help make every golf outing a hole in one.