Charity GolfOne of the most common non-profit fundraisers is the golf outing. The main reason why this method has become so popular is that it combines the benefits of having fun, getting exercise, and raising lots of money for the organization.

There are many “moving parts” that you have to consider when you plan your own golf outing. If you get any one of these parts out of order, or if you skip one all together, you will be missing huge opportunities to have a top-notch fundraising event.

Below, I have written about three critical decisions you will have to make right at the very start of your planning. By no means are these the only three, but they are important ideas to get you started.

1. Choose the Right Format

One of the very first things you should think about in the early stages of planning your golf outing is what kind of format you would like to follow. The most common by far is the “Scramble”. This is popular, because it allows a team of four to select the best shot in each individual series of hits.

For instance, imagine a team is teeing off on the first hole. Player One hits the ball 100 yards. Player Two hits it 200 yards. Player Three hits it 300 yards. And Player Four hits it 350 yards, but it lands in a sand trap. The group decides that even though player four hit it the farthest, it’s not the best shot, since it’s in a bunker. The consensus is that the best shot for that series of hits came from Player Three. So, the entire foursome goes to where ball #3 landed (after picking up their own shots) and hit their next shot from there. Then, after all four have completed their second hits, they do the same thing- pick the best shot and hit their third round from there. This pattern follows straight through to the end of the hole.

The advantage of a scramble format is that each team will get its best possible score, and it will take the shortest amount of time, because the team is technically hitting only “great” shots. No time will be wasted trying to locate and hit out of trees, creeks, ponds, or sand traps.

There are other formats, such as “Best Ball”, “Shamble”, and the “Golf Marathon”. I would suggest talking to people on your organizing committee and also pros at the golf course itself for further information and recommendations about your format.

2. Make Corporate Sponsorships a High Priority

Besides recruiting as many foursomes as you can to actually play the event, perhaps the biggest money making opportunity comes from corporate sponsorships. There are a few different ways to go about this revenue-generating strategy.

First of all, you should offer companies a sponsorship with the foursome option and a sponsorship without the foursome option. There should also be different levels of sponsorships. A common example would be to have platinum, gold, silver, and bronze categories, although these names can be customized to fit your particular organization if you like. This is always a good place to show some creativity.

It is acceptable to give a slight discount on hole sponsorships if the company selects the foursome option.

A hole sponsorship should include a professionally made sign. This can be made from a variety of heavy-duty and weather-proof materials. Also, be absolutely sure to get all details on the sign correct, like the logo and all spellings. It can be very embarrassing if you spell the name of a sponsor’s company incorrectly!

The cost of the signs can add up, so make sure you get an accurate quote ahead of time and build that cost into the price of each sponsorship.

Sponsorships can also be sold for things like the rule sheet (company logo printed on all rule sheets), and many organizations seek sponsors to underwrite the cost of major expenses, like the food for the banquet, any alcohol, or even the cost of the golf course itself. My advice when it comes to sponsorships is “If you can stick a logo on it, sell it!”.

Of course, this means that “corporate sales” is going to be a very important part of your planning operation. Make sure you pick a person (or a team) for this job who has experience, connections, personality, and the ability to make a sale.

2. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of the Golf Course Itself

Very early in the planning process, you will need to decide where you will be holding your golf outing. Very quickly, you will learn that different courses charge vastly different rates and offer many different menu options.

For most non-profits, the first instinct will be to save money and go with the lowest bid. While this makes sense on the surface, there are many reasons why this might not be the best choice in the long run.

First of all, the lowest bid will usually mean that you will be golfing at a local municipal course. You’ll get 18 holes, a hot dog, and a club house, but not a lot more than that. While all golf courses are nice, some are just rather basic. And that’s what you’ll be getting with your low bid. In addition, most of your potential golfers will have already played that course or one just like it. If a person has even a slight conflict at work, your outing at a very common location won’t do much to convince him to make the sacrifice. However, if you choose a high caliber course with a great reputation, you’re giving potential teams much more incentive to skip out on work that day.

Other things that you will sacrifice by taking the lowest bid will be a much higher level of customer service, including a tournament director assigned to your organization, nice banquet facilities, and a staff of golf pros to help you maximize your “add on” profits during the event.


There’s an old expression in the house painting field- “Preparation is 80% of the job”. The same is true with a golf outing. Most of the hard work is done in preparation for the event. There are literally dozens of decision that must be made before the first player tees off.

What you do before that time will indicate what kind of a profit your organization is able to make.

Remember, for more information on this very important topic, be sure to keep an eye out for the new golf outing eBook from Step By Step fundraising that will be appearing in the next few weeks.

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 02 July 2008

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