Where's the fun for players who don't have a chance of coming in first, second, or third, and have little hope of driving the ball the farthest?

There are lots of ways to spice it up for everyone. Andy Talbert knows. The events planner for Computer Systems Management Inc., Alexandria, Va., gives out an award for any golfer wearing pink pants. Another angle for Talbert: Don't announce what awards you're giving. You don't want people intentionally playing poorly to garner the prize for Worst Foursome, Longest Shot at Wrong Hole, and Most Putts on One Green. It spoils the fun.

We asked several experts how they add pizzazz to their events.

Mixing Metaphors

There is no crying in baseball, and there are no hockey goalies in golf. Or are there? One of Martin Boyle's fresh ideas is called “Hit the Goalie.” Boyle is president of Dimension Four Event Management, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. “As golfers are warming up, or at the end of the tourney, have a hockey goalie roam around at the 150-yard mark. For $5 — which goes to charity — golfers get three range balls to try to hit the goalie. The fun part is that the goalie will try to stop the balls, giving more golfers a chance to win something small.”

Magic Moments

Disney always has a sleeve-full of creative ideas, and it's no different when it hosts a golf event. “We do the basic contests and games that most golf operations do,” says Terry Brinkoetter, manager of group publicity at Walt Disney World, “but we've also developed some experiences that we think are pretty unique.”

  • Around the World

    Rather than a beverage or snack cart, Disney uses theme food stations at various holes. Guests might find an Italian station on one hole, a Mexican station a few holes later, and an all-American cookout farther on, topped off with a lavish dessert buffet.

  • Magic Moments

    “Magic Moments” are individualized experiences that Disney tries to create for guests. The golf team can create a Magic Moment for the group's CEO, top performer, or team player. The player will go out to the 18th hole before play starts and select the pin position. Along the same lines, Disney can set up its Magnolia Course so that each hole recreates the pin position used on the final day of its annual PGA Tour Event, the Walt Disney World Golf Classic.



Birdie: Guaranteed

There's little chance you won't birdie on the final hole at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country, San Antonio, Texas. “We'll cut five holes on the 18th green and allow golfers to putt to the nearest hole,” says Charlie Kent, director of golf, “ensuring a birdie.” Some of the Hyatt's other ideas:

  • Glow in the Dark Putting

    An after-dinner event, in which the course staff creates a glow-in-the-dark putt-putt course with windmills and other familiar props. The course includes glow-in-the-dark tubs of beer and a wet bar with cigars.

  • First Aid

    “First Aid” stations are dispersed on the course. Rather than bandages and aspirin, however, stations are supplied with hotdogs, nachos, margaritas, and other support.

  • The Toss

    One format allows golfers one throw of the golf ball during the round. Perfect when you're dug-in to a nasty sand trap.

  • Spectator Sport

    A Long Drive specialist puts on an exhibition. Golfers love to see the long ball.



Million-Dollar Shot

It's the chance every golfer dreams of: one shot for $1 million. It's an opportunity you can give four players during your next event. “Conduct a closest-to-the-pin contest with a catch — the four players who are closest to the pin on the four par-3s during the tournament will each get to shoot for $1 million,” says Henry Ferry, Buford, Ga., American Hole 'N One.

When the tournament ends, contestants are brought to the Million Dollar hole. If someone makes the shot of a lifetime, let the celebration begin. If no one hits a hole in one, award a great sponsor prize to the contestant who was closest to the pin. And don't be surprised if someone does. Three players became millionaires last year.

“It adds excitement throughout the tournament,” says Ferry. “Each player has four chances to qualify for the $1 million shot. And at the end of the tournament, everyone gets to watch four nervous, but excited, golfers tee off.”

Cost of the shootout is $800 and includes a 2-by-4 foot oversized check or prize sign describing the event. The tournament director can dictate how the money will be awarded if there is a winner (for example, $500,000 to the golfer and $500,000 to a charity of choice). The cost can also be reduced by qualifying golfers on only one ($200) or two ($400) closest-to-the-pin holes.