29 Oct Golf Tournaments During COVID-19
Golf Tournaments are among the most popular form of fundraising for non-profits and hosting a golf tournament in any given year isn’t an easy task. Golf tournaments have a ton of components that involve an extreme attention to detail to be executed well and to stand out from the rest! Typically, being at a higher price point of entry, it is essential to create a unique experience for all golfers, while making sure the event is profitable for the organization.
Of course, COVID-19 brought its own set of unique challenges to the table. While working hard to pivot and save all of our events, we begun to re-imagine how we can create a safe and successful golf tournament in the Covid-19 world. In 2020, we had the opportunity to create three unique golf tournaments in three different states with three different safety restrictions; The Greg Hill Classic in support of The Greg Hill Foundation, Bourque Golf in support of the Bourque Family Foundation and Putts & Punches for Parkinson’s in support of the Shawn Thornton Foundation.
Throughout the planning process, we took on the challenge of adapting these tournaments to not only ensure the safety of our guests and staff but to raise significant dollars to assist the foundation’s in fulfilling their missions at this difficult fundraising time.
Keep reading to learn more about how we successfully adapted these three tournaments!
1. Limiting Participants While Maintaining Income
As with everything else these days, limiting the number of participants was a necessity for our tournaments. While each course had slightly different policies due to being in three different states, this theme was overarching. This variable was a constant, we could not change it. However, there are many independent variables that we could change to ensure we were compensating for lost income.
The live and silent auction is one aspect of a golf tournament that all participants look forward to. However, it provides opportunity to gather and multiple people touch the same items, which does not comply with COVID-19 guidelines. Moving the auction to an online platform provides three benefits; it allows you to provide more information and images of your items, keeps your bidders involved by notifying them if they have been outbid, and allows you to promote the auction to your entire database to receive more active bidders. This is a great way to increase your income while keeping your headcount within regulations.
For the Bourque Family Foundation Bourque Golf, we added a virtual element to the tournament. Participants could golf anytime, anywhere during the week of Bourque Golf. This was a significant income stream for the Bourque Family Foundation to assist in compensating for some lost income due to limited foursomes and our participants loved it!
2. Creating a Positive and Unique Experience
As always, creating a positive and unique experience for our event attendees is at the top of the priority list. Even while outdoors, all of the little details count. In these circumstances, the attention to detail and customer service elements really stand out. It is important to take the time to perfect the little things and ensure that your staff and volunteers are friendlier than ever to make each guest feel welcomed, safe and valued.
The Greg Hill Classic, hosted at Lake of Isles in Connecticut, took to Guy Fieri’s Foxwoods for their post golf gathering. By limiting the number of golfers and seating each foursome at their own table, we were able to appropriately manage a post-golf celebration safely. Being an overnight tournament, golfers had the opportunity to take full advantage of all the amenities Foxwoods has to offer and enjoyed connecting with each other during various different parts of the day, not just at dinner, which relieved some pressure to interact and mingle during dinner.
Bourque Golf, held at the Golf Club of New England in New Hampshire, took an alternate approach. Utilizing the incredible space this golf course has, we moved the indoor sit-down dinner dining experience outdoors under a tent. This provided beautiful views of the golf course, created more space than we had in the dining room and allowed golfers to enjoy the beautiful day. This change was welcomed by all of our participants and is something we hope to continue to do for future events.
The Putts & Punches Golf tournament, hosted at Ferncroft Country Club in Massachusetts, followed a similar adaptation in their own unique way. Being a tee time structured tournament, there was a different pace to this event. Instead of creating a formal gathering, golfers were welcomed to enjoy light food and beverages from the outdoor bar and utilize the beautiful patio area that Ferncroft Country Club has. Being a late fall golf tournament, the crisp fall air accompanied by warm fire pits created an experience very unique to this tournament. This quaint and modest gathering allowed sponsors to connect with our celebrity golfers, making it a more personal interaction and increasing the value of their support.
With all of these tournaments, and each event planned during COVID-19, it is important to keep discussions open with all of your vendors and partners. Having the appropriate conversations on how they are handling the pandemic, what they are doing to keep their activity or venue safe and what possibilities are still available allow creative and innovative ideas to develop. The answer is not automatically no! Talk with your partners to see what is still possible.
3. Providing Unparalleled Value
With golf tournament foursomes and player registration costs varying across the board, it is always important to understand what the value of your tournament is and capitalize on the reason your players are supporting. The value of the tournament is typically shown through activations during the day. Of course, this may be limited or not allowed depending on your location and venue.
One aspect we took this opportunity to amplify is our player gift bags. Knowing we needed to add value and reduce costs we focused on our relationships and the relationships that our board member had to receive more donations for our participant gift bag. When the players did not experience the same social interactions that were limited due to the pandemic, they still felt they were getting an incredible value for their sponsorship.
This value will also be shown throughout the positive and unique experiences you create. Capitalizing on the smaller capacity of your tournament by using the opportunity to connect with your sponsors and donors on a deeper level will make them excited to return for another year!
It is no secret that planning events during a pandemic presents its challenges, but it is not impossible. We are honored to have worked with The Greg Hill Foundation, the Bourque Family Foundation and the Shawn Thornton Foundation in developing their golf tournaments into a COVID-19 friendly event. For each of these clients, their golf tournament is a staple fundraising effort for each year. We are excited they will continue to be able to fulfill their individual missions and continue to help those they serve.