Charity GolfOne of the reasons why a golf outing is such a terrific fundraising strategy is because it is so flexible in its structure. There can be so much more going on at a golf outing than just knocking a little white ball around 18 holes.

In fact, if the actual golfing is ALL you focus on, you’re missing an amazing opportunity to raise loads of money for your cause.

From the minute people start arriving at the course to the minute they leave your banquet you can and should be making money. The following article will describe a number of ways a group can accomplish some of this during the actual play of the event.

Two quick notes about the following suggestions:

First- Each of the ideas below can be tweaked many different ways. Each individual golf course may have its own particular spin on these events. I would recommend consulting with the golf pro at each course and ask him for his thoughts on any of the contests you might be interested in.

Second- Each of the ideas listed below will require the organization to provide volunteers on the course. These volunteers will have to serve as official judges, and since prizes of cash or desirable merchandise are often at stake, I recommend that you find people to serve who are absolutely trustworthy to hold money and who have the ability to maintain impartiality, even if they have close friends who will be competing in front of them.

One of the best and most expected places to hit golfers up for money is on the course itself. Many of the participants at your outing will have played at other outings, so they will be prepared for this means of raising money.

Some of the most common forms of “on-the-course” fundraising would be:

1. Beat the Pro

“Beat the Pro” is a common event at a golf outing. This special contest is held on a par 3 hole, and is run by a golf pro from the course you are playing. Although there are various ways to structure this contest, a common method is as follows.

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The golf pro, who is stationed on the same hole for the entire event, will tee off first, and the individual players can wager an amount, say between $10-$50, that they can hit closer to the pin than the pro on their drive off the tee box. If a player does not hit closer to the pin than the pro, he loses his money. If a player does hit closer to the pin than the pro, he gets his money plus the same amount back (e.g. if a player bet $10, he would get $20 back).

Be sure to have a volunteer on the green with a measuring device to ensure accuracy.

If you have a good pro working for you, your organization stands to make a lot of money from this contest, because all the money made by the end of the day goes to the non-profit hosting the event.

A note: make sure to ask the golf pro in charge of the event how much they charge for this service.

2. Pro for Hire

Here is another fun way for non-profit organizations to make money at a golf outing. This is a service called “Pro for Hire”. The golf course holding the event will provide you with a golf pro, who will be stationed at the longest and most difficult hole on the course. He will be there for the length of the day. This pro should be one who has a particular skill for hitting very long drives.

When a team approaches the hole, individual players can decide if they’d like the pro to take their tee shot for them. Of course, this privilege will cost them anywhere from $10 to $40 (or more) per swing.

However, if the team isn’t very confident, or if they are in the heat of the competition, a professional drive may be very useful to them and worth the money for the distinct advantage.

A team might also feel pressured into using the pro if they know (or at least suspect) that other teams have done so. Why wouldn’t they buy this is the teams they are competing against did so?

Since teams are paying for the service, there is no wager and thus no potential for players to “steal” money away from the pot.

From a money-generating perspective, let’s say you charge players $30 for the pro to hit for them. You have 200 golfers, which makes 50 teams. If every team uses this service just once, that’s $1,500 made at this one hole! Be sure to subtract the amount the course will charge you for the use of the pro all day.

3. Closest to the Pin

Along with “Longest Drive”, “Closest to the Pin” is the most popular of golf outing contests. This event requires two volunteers- one at the tee box to take the wagers, and one on the green to measure and mark the distance. Some groups have teams mark their own putts, but this can lead to disputes and ruin the day, so if at all possible, try to get a volunteer to fill this role.

This event is played on a par 3 hole and the drive that lands closest to the hole/pin (in one shot) wins a pre-determined prize. A hole in one is an automatic winner, of course. Donated items like golf balls, golf shirts, or even free rounds of golf make great prizes for events like this.

In order to qualify for the contest, each player must pay an entry fee. This is usually a lower amount to make sure many players enter, say $3, although you may set this at any level you wish.

If you have enough volunteers, you could have a “Closest to the Pin” competition on the front 9 holes and the back 9 holes. This way, you can double your money!

4. Longest Drive

This event is very similar to “Closest to the Pin” in the way it is run. A prize is awarded for the longest drive off the tee to the fairway. This is generally played on a par five hole.

Again, an entry fee is set to make a player eligible to win the competition. A volunteer is at the tee box to collect the fee and another volunteer stands to the side of the fairway to mark the longest drives.

With a low entry fee, the volunteer collecting the money should have an easy time convincing everyone to enter and really building up the pot.

For instance, if there are 200 golfers and you charge $3 to enter and you hold two such contests (one on front 9, one on back 9) and everyone enters, you can make $1,200, just on Longest drive itself. If you do the same thing with closest to the pin, that’s another $1,200!) These amounts can rally add up!

5. Straightest Drive

In the same family as “Closest to the Pin” and “Longest Drive”, this is an opportunity for players to win a prize.

Since the ability to hit the ball a certain distance is not an advantage here, the only requirement for this hole be that it is straight from tee box to green.

Before the event, ask the golf pro to chalk a straight line, right in the middle of the fairway, from the tee box to the green.

A volunteer who is at the tee box will collect the entry fee. Another volunteer who is in the fairway marks and measures each shot to determine which lands closest to the chalked line, regardless of how far it traveled. A winning drive may have only traveled 50 yards, as long as it is closest to the line.

I would once again recommend setting a low entry fee to maximize the number of players who participate. Also, do your best to get all prizes donated, so that 100% of the pot goes to your organization.


There are many more ways to earn money both on and off the course at a golf outing. This list just scratches the surface of what’s possible.

If you would like to learn more about these and the other opportunities to make you golf outing into the highlight of your fundraising calendar, please stay tuned for information about an e-book to be published by Step by Step Fundraising in the coming months.

This article is part of the Golf Series

Here’s a list of each of the articles in this series:

1.  Three Important Steps to Planning a Charity Golf Outing by Jim Berigan

2.  5 Reasons Why a Golf Outing Can Benefit your Non-Profit by Jim Berigan

3.  5 Money-Making Games to Play at your next Golf Outing by Jim Berigan

4.  Interview with Kevin McKinley, Golf Pro at Treetops Resort, Gaylord, Michigan by Jim Berigan

Posted on 23 July 2008

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