WANT TO RUN A MORE SUCCESSFUL
CHARITY GOLF TOURNAMENT?
By Eric Tracy
Editor's note: This month we conclude our 3-part series
on How To Run A Successful Charity Golf Tournament written
by KFWB Radio sportscaster, Eric Tracy, aka, The Mulligan
Man. Tracy's extensive experience is drawn from more than
300 charity golf tournaments in which he's played, organized
or served as the Master of Ceremonies. Next month our listings
of local charity golf tournaments returns.
By Eric Tracy
Remember as a kid being invited to someone's house for a
birthday party. Your mom made you get all dressed up, bring
a present, promise to act polite. Maybe this is a stretch,
but what do you remember most about those parties?
Think of that the next time you're inviting a golfer back
to your charity event. What will he have remembered when it's
over - especially when it's time for him or her to decide
on whether it's worth the time and effort to come back?
know the economy isn't in great shape right now, and they
say they'll be less discretionary dollars available in 2002.
That means we all have to do more with less. But desperate
times don't necessarily call for desperate measures.
You just have to think outside the tee box.
For reasons too numerous to mention - none of them good --
most charity golf tournaments do the same old thing every
year. You know the scenario. You arrive and someone hands
you a goodie bag with a golf shirt and a hat. While in line
for registration, someone else sells you two mulligans. It's
a "scramble" format with a couple 'closest-to-the
pin' competitions, maybe a 'longest drive' hole. After a 6-hour
round of golf, a too loud Master of Ceremonies conducts a
too long raffle. He hands out trophies, thanks everyone for
being there and you go home.
Maybe it wasn't so boring the first time. But if you're having
trouble filling your field, 'being boring' could be part of
Out of my personal bag of tricks, here are some games, gimmicks
and themes that can help spice up your event, not necessarily
golf tournaments sell extra shots, (Mulligans), that are used
at the golfer's discretion on the course. They are proven
revenue producers and they're pure profit. This year, do something
Sell a throw: Instead of selling two Mulligans for $20, sell
one Mulligan and one throw. So anywhere on the course a golfer
can choose to "throw" the ball, which is very handy
for deep sand traps or nasty chip shots. Just that little
twist is sure to bring a laugh - and probably a few extra
There's also a Mulligan string: This 3-foot piece of yarn,
give out with a pair of children's craft scissors, can be
used to improve a lie, sink a putt or move a putt. However,
each time the string is brought into play, that length used
must be cut off. When all the string is gone, it's gone!
The "scramble" format is used predominantly in charity
golf tournaments. Meaning, everyone tees off, the best shot
is chosen, and everyone plays the shot, down to the putt.
However, in my recent poll of numerous golfers who play in
multiple tournaments every year they almost universally say
they are tired of this. Try what's called a modified scramble.
Here, the best drive is chosen, but from that point, each
golfer plays his own ball into the hole. This allows individuals
to feel they've actually played the course, rather than ridden
the bag of the one really good player in the group. This modified
format is actually quicker, which helps cut down on the time
on the course - which was the other universal complaint expressed
PICK A THEME
Ever try to tee off wearing a sombrero? If your tournament
is in early May , try a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Give each
foursome one of these famed wide-brimmed straw hats (the one
in the photo cost $6 ) and make one golfer wear it on every
hole. The hat rotates through the group. It's a great change
of pace and makes for great conversation.
If your tournament is near the 4th of July, have a "red,
white and blue'' theme. That's not only the color people are
asked to wear, but it spills over into the format. Teams play
from the red, white and blue tees, changing each hole.
My favorite theme was a tournament near Thanksgiving. The
entry fee for this event, to help feed the hungry, was $200
plus a frozen turkey. That night, a homeless shelter was well
A CONTEST WITHIN THE TOURNAMENT
This creates a real sense of team camaraderie and is something
that isn't just won by the foursome that shoots the best score
over 18 holes.
'The Pink Lady'. Each team is given one pink ball. This ball
has to be used on every par 3 and par 5 hole. One golfer plays
the Pink Lady from tee-to-green and has the responsibility
to not lose it. Since the ball rotates between team members,
this means on a par-72 course, each player in a foursome would
likely play it twice. (Note: The golfers, when playing the
Pink Lady, will not be involved in the team competition on
that hole. He only plays The Pink Lady). The score of the
Pink Lady is kept separately. The team with the lowest combined
score with The Pink Lady wins. But lose the little lady, and
you're out of the running.
A twist on this idea would be a having a team member play
one of the 4 pre-selected par-4 holes with only one club,
from tee through holing out. Each team member plays one of
the four holes and it's his choice what club to use. The team
with the lowest combined score on the one-club holes wins
Multiple flag sticks: On one specified green -- usually a
par 3 - have three or four pins put on the green instead of
one. It looks like a cinch birdie, because it doesn't matter
which hole you eventually land near. But looks are deceiving.
Tricky pin placements can be a great equalizers.
Sell a post: On longer par 4, place a post in the middle of
the fairway at the 150-marker. If a team doesn't get a good
drive, they can buy the post for $5 a player. So instead of
playing from a short or poor drive, everyone hits from the
Most gross: Many tournaments have 'Net' and 'Gross' winning
teams. But it's always a great laugh when you award a team,
"The Most Gross" - namely, the highest score. Remember
to be creative in what you give a team for this dubious distinction.
I've seen everything from ping-pong paddles with the name
of the award and tournament on a brass plate to cellophane
wrapped buckets of range balls designed to help the team not
earn the award two years in a row. One time, they even gave
out really bad yellow jackets to each member - kind of the
anti-Augusta green jackets given to the Masters' winners.
Whatever you come up with, even if it's a variation, it's
all about thinking outside the tee box. Make it up. Make it
memorable. And you'll make more friends and money for your
For more information on running your charity event, contact
Eric Tracy at firstname.lastname@example.org