Scratch golfer or not, everyone is on the same playing field when it comes to selecting a venue for golf events. This aspect of planning can make or break the success of your day at the course. Consider these factors:

  1. Why are you having this tournament? It's imperative to consider this question before beginning your search. Here are some of the most frequent objectives and the types of courses that fit best:

    • Customer appreciation and product launches: Usually these events are held at well-known and convenient local courses. The goal for this type of event is to reflect your corporate image.

    • Employee outings: These informal gatherings emphasize fun and socializing. The golf course should be forgiving, with plenty of room for mixing afterward. Private country clubs work well, since most are open for nonmember groups on Mondays, and include activities for nongolfers such as tennis and swimming.

    • Sales incentives: Upscale, full-service resort courses are the most popular selection for incentive groups. Guests can enjoy the other available sports, the spa, the swimming pools, and other facilities.

    • Charity or fund-raising events: Again, adequate function space and banquet facilities are most important, since these almost always include awards ceremonies and post-tournament festivities.

  2. What are your participants' skill levels?

    Find out the average skill level of golfers in advance, even before you book the golf course and send out invitations. Well-known, challenging courses are best for groups of avid golfers, while “just for fun” groups will do better at more convenient, forgiving courses.

  3. Where are your attendees coming from?

    Try to find a course within an hour's drive for maximum participation from a local crowd. If you're transferring a group from a meeting at another location, get creative with the transfer time. We've seen trivia games, golf tips, and product/destination presentations during the pre- and post-golf transfers.

  4. What about the facilities and services?

    Make sure there is ample space for any pre- or post-tournament activities, such as a reception, or awards banquet. Many golf courses are equipped or have access to tents if adequate indoor space is not available. Can the golf club staff accommodate your group? Are there enough attendants and golf carts? Can the golf club handle your food and beverage needs? Are the locker room facilities adequate?

  5. What are the best dates, times, and seasons to book an event?

    Look at courses' open dates, starting times, and shoulder/off seasons. You will most likely save significant greens and cart fees if your event is on a Monday afternoon in a shoulder or off-peak season.

Gretchen Kihm is director of business development for American Golf Corp., Palm Springs, Calif. ( ). Call the company's events & corporate services hotline, (800) T-OFF-NOW, for complimentary help planning golf events, from site selection, availability, and rates to merchandise and day-of-the-event details.

What to Ask

When calling a course, find out:

  • What dates and rates are available. What are course conditions during your event season? What is the level of difficulty? Is parking provided?

  • The staffing (how many beverage carts, bag drop, pros, etc.), and if gratuity is included.

  • How long the pro thinks it will take for all the players to finish.

  • If there are adequate banquet or meeting facilities.

  • If a practice facility is available before the event.

  • If practice “range” balls are complimentary.

  • If the pro will give short clinics before the event.

  • About availability of adequate men's and women's locker room facilities/showers.

  • If there is a rain out/cancellation policy.

  • When the contract and deposit are due. When is the final minimum player count due? Is there a liability clause? Are you and your organization covered if someone gets hurt?