3 First Steps for Planning a Golf Tournament

Step 1: Establish Your Event Goals
The first step in organizing any golf tournament is to step back and take a look at the bigger picture. If it’s a fundraiser, for example, determine how much money you need to raise and estimate your costs. If it’s an event for corporate clients, create a written project plan that spells out your goals and outlines roles and responsibilities. If it’s a major marketing event for your company, your focus will be entirely different.

Before you even start planning, do some research. Contact local golf directors, resort contacts, even the convention and visitors bureau at the destination, to learn about your course options, as well as what else is going on in the area at the time of your event, before you commit to a facility and select the date and time.

Step 2: Create a Planning Committee
Successful events hinge on the recruitment and action of a strong leadership team. Ideally, your team should be comprised of individuals with diverse skills and talents. Make sure you include knowledgeable golfers on your event planning committee who’ve been to enough golf tournaments to know what works and what does not.

Consider assigning a person (or team) to the following project areas:
✽ Welcome Committee—Choose friendly, outgoing individuals to welcome guests, set up registration tables and prize tables, distribute goody bags, handle snacks and drink tickets, sell raffle tickets, and answer questions.
✽ Judging Panel—You’ll need people who know the game of golf well to help keep order on the course, judge on-course contests, and confirm scores.
✽ Prize Committee: Put someone in charge of finding items for goody bags that each golfer receives, such as golf balls, tees, and other promotional items.
✽ Marketing and Public Relations: Some events require that you hire someone with a communications background to write press releases and pitch story ideas to media. They can also create print and promotional materials (i.e., flyers, print ads, or event posters) to help spread the word about the event. Consider having an on-site photographer to take pictures at the event.
✽ Hospitality: Choose a team to organize “event day” logistics including table or tent rentals, golf cart rentals, and event signage. This group also could assist with pre- and post-event activities and entertainment.
✽ Sponsorships: If you are soliciting sponsorships, this person or team should have experience in sales and building partnerships. This group would work closely with your marketing team to ensure all sponsorship obligations are fulfilled (that is, appropriate signage is on display, logos are included on printed materials, and sponsors are publicly thanked for their contributions).

Step 3: Choose Your Golf Course Partner Wisely
Selecting the golf course is critical. To gain instant credibility with the golfers, sponsors, and guest pros, choose an exclusive course that is highly rated. Try to avoid a lesser-known course just because it fits within your budget. If you’re interested in a “members only” course, see if you have any contacts who can reach out to these members to obtain approval for your organization to use the course.

The partnership with your golf course will be the foundation for your tournament. Meet with the course director to iron out every detail, and put everything in a signed agreement to alleviate confusion on tournament day.

Here are some things you’ll want to include in your contract:
✽ Date and tee times: Before signing, ask about discounts for off-season or midweek golf dates.
✽ Description of tournament services: Are golf balls, golf carts, score cards, gratuities, and service fees included?
✽ Number of golfers and guarantees: When is your attendee list due? Are there penalties if the number of golfers is reduced?
✽ Total costs: Includes costs per golfer; costs for food, beverage, services, etc.; and due dates for deposit and final payment
✽ Cancellation terms and weather policy.

Five Tournament Formats

Choosing the golf tournament format can make or break your golf event. Consider your audience, as some formats are fun and more laid back while others are formal and more competitive. Your best bet will be to choose a format that players are familiar with so they will thoroughly enjoy the day.

The Scramble
The most common format used with business-related golf is called a “scramble.” It allows a team of four to select the best shot in each individual series of hits, then the entire foursome will take their next shot from this location. This pattern continues to the end of each hole.

Keep in mind that when playing a scramble, you can drop your ball within one club length from where the chosen ball lies, but no closer to the hole. The advantage of a scramble format is that each team will get its best possible score while wasting no time trying to locate balls hit into trees, sand traps, or creeks. The scramble is usually played with teams of four, but it can be played with more team members or as little as two per team.

Best Ball
This format is popular with more advanced golfers who like to play their own balls. Best ball is usually played with four-person teams. Each player on the team plays his or her own ball from tee to green for each hole, just as you would in a typical game of golf. However, at the end of each hole, the lowest score among the four players counts as the team score. In a “two best ball” format, you must count two scores on each hole. The more balls that count, the more players involved in the fate of the team.

❸ Alternate Shot
With this format, the team alternates who hits each shot, while playing the same ball. The first player hits the drive, the second player hits the second shot, the first player hits the third shot, and so on, until the ball is holed. The team also alternates who tees off on each hole, so the same player doesn’t hit every drive.

❹ Modified Stableford
A modified stableford golf competition can be played by individuals or as a team tournament. With this format, the score on each hole is worth a certain amount of points. The idea is to have the highest score.

Typical scores are outlined below. Points are won or lost based on the following:
Double eagle = 8 points
Eagle = 5 points
Birdie = 2 points
Par = 0 points
Bogey = Minus 1 point
Double bogey or worse = Minus 3 points

Chapman (Pinehurst) Foursome
With the chapman (or Pinehurst) System, two-person teams compete against each other. Chapman is really a melding of several formats into one, where two golfers tee off and then switch balls for their second shot. Teammates then select the one best ball after their second shots, and continue to play alternate shots until the ball ends up in the hole.

10 Rules of Golf

The official “Rules of Golf” guide, published by the U.S. Golf Association, is about 100 pages long. This list offers
beginners a quick overview of standard golf rules and golf course etiquette.

Rule 1: Preparing for the Game
✽ Equipment: There is a limit of 14 clubs in each golfer’s bag. Borrowing clubs from other players is not advisable. Make sure you have plenty of golf tees and golf balls. If it’s your first time out, there’s a good chance you’ll be losing some balls and you’ll want to be prepared to replace them.
✽ Dress Code: Typically, golf courses require collared shirts and dress pants or khaki shorts. It is also a good idea to wear golf shoes. A golf glove is optional, but is a good idea for preventing blisters.
✽ Tipping: Find out if tipping is common practice. If you are playing at a private course, it is often necessary to tip cart jockeys, people running beverage carts, caddies, etc.
✽ Tee Time: Make sure you are on time. If a tee time is missed, your group may lose its spot.

Rule 2: The Basics
✽ The holes on the course must be played in order, either 1 through 9, or 1 through 18.
✽ Always use your correct handicap.
✽ Mark your ball so you will be able to identify it on the course.
✽ You may only strike the ball with the head of the club. You may not push, scrape, or rake the ball, or hit the ball while it is moving.

Rule 3: Who Tees Off First?
✽ The player who has “honors” tees off first. For the first hole, this can be determined randomly. On remaining holes, the player with the best score on the preceding hole typically goes first.
✽ Place your ball between the tee markers, usually small colored cones. The ball can be even with the markers or up to two clubs lengths behind them, but never in front.
✽ On all other shots from the tee markers to the green, the player whose ball is farthest from the hole plays first.

Rule 4: How to Play Your Ball
✽ One of the most fundamental principles of golf is the rule “play it as it lies.” Don’t move or touch the ball—where it comes to rest is where you should play your next shot.

Rule 5: Out of Bounds and Lost Balls
✽ The penalty for hitting your ball out of bounds (or losing your ball) is “stroke-plus-distance”—that is, add one stroke to your score, and then go back to where you hit the shot from to hit it again.
✽ If you hit the ball out of bounds, rather than retracing your steps (especially at a busy course), you can play a second ball (called a “provisional ball”) off the tee. Wait until everyone else tees off before you hit your provisional ball, and then count this as your third stroke.

Rule 6: Water Hazards
✽ Water hazards are typically marked on golf courses with yellow or red lines or stakes.
✽ If your ball ends up in the water, take a one-stroke penalty and drop the ball at a point behind the spot where your ball crossed into the water.

Rule 7: The Putting Green
✽ When your ball is on the green, you may brush away any loose impediments such as leaves or sticks.
✽ You may not test the surface of the green by rolling a ball or scraping the surface.
✽ If you pick up your ball to get it out of the way for another ball or to clean it, always mark its spot with something, such as a coin.
✽ If the ball overhangs the edge of the hole, you can wait for 10 seconds to see if it will drop in.

Rule 8: Keep Moving
✽ Be aware of your place of play. You don’t want to keep other golfers behind you waiting.
✽ Be prepared to play when it is your turn. Have your club selected, and your ball and tee, in advance.
✽ If your group is slower than the group behind you, it’s proper etiquette to allow the faster group to play through.

Rule 9: Asking Advice
✽ During any round, you may not ask advice on “how to play” from anyone on the course except for your caddie or partner. You may, however ask for reminders about rules, boundaries, or positions of hazards.
✽ Similarly, you may not give advice to your opponent.

Rule 10: Course Care and Safety
✽ Part of your responsibility when golfing is to take care of the course on which you are playing.
✽ Be aware of the whereabouts of other golfers before you swing.
✽ If you use a golf cart, observe the posted cart rules and keep the cart on the paths at all times.
✽ Repair your pitch marks on the green and divots in the fairway.
✽ After hitting out of a bunker, use the rake to smooth out your
footprints.

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For more golf tournament planning tips, visit DoJiggy and Golf Event Registrations.com