Eight tips for successful tournaments from Rick MacDonald, president and CEO of San Diego Golf reservations
Not a golfer? Not a problem. You can still create a top-notch golfthat gives your company's board of directors, executives, salespeople — and their clients — the day of networking and friendly competition they desire. We checked in with Rick MacDonald, president and CEO of San Diego Golf Reservations, to get his advice for planning a golf event that's short on stress and long on results.
Decide How Much Help You Need
Whether to go it alone or outsource your tournament planning to a professional is your first decision.is like hiring an adviser: These professionals will guide you through the many decisions you will need to make throughout the planning and execution process. Remember: If you decide to do it yourself, you will still need a large number of staff available on tournament day.
Choose Your Course and Partners
Get references. There are big differences among courses with regard to the conditions and services they offer. Ask for two or three references from groups of the same size and requirements as yours who have held corporate events at the course within the past six to 12 months. The same applies to selecting a professional meeting planner, destination management company, or local golf event management company: Ask for references to ensure they have the local knowledge and golf expertise you require.
Know Your On-Site Contacts
Unless you're running a no-frills event, you will have more than a few contacts during the planning process. Your first contact may be the national or regional sales manager, who represents many golf courses. He or she will provide you information, prices, availability, and then issue a. The tournament director will take over from there. You should insist on being introduced to and establishing a relationship with the course tournament director before you sign a contract. This person will be your main contact and source of information and coordination — and you must have confidence in his expertise.
Consider the following about the tournament director: Will he be present on tournament day? How many other staff personnel will be dedicated to servicing your group? Does he promptly return your phone calls? Does he take time to explain things you don't understand? Does he put you in contact with the right outside vendor when the course is unable to meet your requirements?
Be Specific in Your Contract
Read the contract carefully. And don't be afraid to negotiate changes if it doesn't quite meet your needs or is not clear about what services are included. For example, do you want to ensure that the course will have a certain type and adequate supply of rental clubs? Do you want the course to guarantee dedicated attendants to assist your 144 VIP players with unloading and setting up their personal clubs and providing information about the facilities? Write these requirements into the contract so the course can plan for it and give you the proper price quote. Allshould include specifics about deposits, cancellations, refunds, adding to or reducing the number of players, the final guarantee, rain and inclement weather policies, food service, and availability of the driving range and practice areas.
Get Rental Club Info Early
Many courses have a limited supply of rental clubs and they may not be in the best shape. Let the golf course know your rental club needs well in advance so they can rent extra clubs from a local golf club rental company. Additional rental clubs are not something a golf course can typically get just a few hours before your group's arrival.
Make the Master Bill Clear
What goes on the company's tab and who has the authority to make changes? You will need to clearly establish this with all your vendor and course contacts, including the tournament director, the F&B manager, and the pro shop manager, since often they operate independently. Some of the authorizations you will need to make are: Does the master account cover balls, gloves, club rentals, and shirts from the pro shop? Does the F&B tab cover hard alcohol or allow for cigarettes and cigars? And who can make changes on the day of play at the course? (You would be surprised to know how many people in your company think they have that authority!)
Be Prepared On The Big Day
You and your staff should arrive at the course at least one-and-a-half hours before your tee time. However, don't be surprised if many participants arrive just 10 to 20 minutes before. If you did not buy out the course, you will have to share the attention of the course's staff with other groups and individuals, so your players will need to get most of their VIP service from your team. Golf courses usually do not provide formal registration and player check-in services for large events. They will set up a nicely skirted table with chairs and some accompanying poster easels, but you and your staff will need to do the meet and greet, check in the players, hand out promotional items, and service any special requests and situations that arise.
Expect Last-Minute Requests
Designate someone beforehand who can politely and diplomatically handle those players who think they know everything about golf tournament coordination or who request a change you can't possibly make. Knowing how to handle difficult guests with a quick and calm explanation is essential to maintaining the flow of the check-in and getting the event started on time.
For more information, go to www.sandiegogolf.com