In The Green: How to Host a Successful Golf Tournament

Jul 20, 2020

Golf tournaments are the perfect outdoor event–they’re easy to plan, simple to modify for all ages and levels of participation, and are typically run by volunteers. Golf tournaments have immense potential for raising money and awareness for a cause or organization, which is why more than 300,000 non-profit and sponsored golf events are held annually in the United States.

Hosting a golf tournament isn’t always a hole-in-one. It takes careful and strategic planning to host a golf event that not only raises significant funds but gives players and donors an experience they’ll want to return to year after year. We stopped by the pro shop to learn from golf tournament experts how to host a successful golf tournament.

How to Plan a Golf Tournament

Set Your Goals

Setting clear goals up front for your golf tournament gives you a clear path to the pin for all planning decisions that follow. A well-developed vision helps golf event planners produce a better event and can help an organization make and save money. Together with your planning team, create and answer a few goal-setting questions like:

  • Why are we hosting this event? Reasons could be alumni gatherings, family reunions, charity, non-profit or organization fundraising, corporate outings, etc. 
  • How much do we need in sponsorships, and who can we approach? Brainstorm personal connections to secure sponsorship dollars from businesses. Create sponsorship packages that give sponsors new business opportunities.
  • How much do we want to raise? Keep in mind that big dollar goals require large dollar sponsors, donors, players, and courses. Be strategic in who you recruit to play and what their giving potential is if fundraising is a goal.
  • How many players do we need to be successful? Make a list of all potential expenses and run the numbers. Then rerun them. Creative formats like adding golf pros or celebrities to foursomes can allow you to increase registration fees.

Choose A Course

Where you host your golf tournament can be as important as why you’re planning it. Choose a course that aligns with your mission and goals. A small non-profit may want to choose a public course to support the local community. 

If you have lofty fundraising goals, a private country club can attract high-income donors looking for a chance to play a new course. Many large courses have a team dedicated to planning events, so that may help. If saving money is a priority, a smaller course might offer affordable options or support the cause by donating green fees.

Courses usually have limits on when you can host your tournament, so be flexible. Make sure no holidays or other major golf events fall on this date–companies tend to participate in multiple tournaments a year, and you want to be sure they can attend yours.

Finalize Event Details

Hosting a golf tournament that retains golfers and sponsors requires creativity and attention to detail. Your priority is for attendees to enjoy themselves and want to return, so your event has longevity. Some essential information to consider:

Choose a format
There are many different ways to play a golf tournament. Pick one that is simple, popular, and makes sense for participants. There are many choices of golf tournament format. For example, skilled golfers may want stroke or match play, and novice players out for fun may prefer a scramble format. If fundraising is a priority, consider these unique money-making formats from Greater Giving:

  • Pro-Ams: Put a local golf pro with each foursome and triple your ticket price.
  • Celeb-Ams: Place a local celebrity (athlete, politician, newscaster, etc.) in each group and raise the registration fees.
  • Golf-A-Thons: Find 40 golfers to raise pledges for each hole. With 100 holes of golf, you can raise $50,000 to $150,000.

Secure prizes
For golfers, it’s all about having fun. Most tournaments have prizes for the overall winner(s). Include competitions and awards for putting, closest to the pin, or best ball for additional entertainment. Ask sponsors or businesses for in-kind donations such as golf clubs, golf vacation packages, or sporting event tickets. Sell raffle tickets throughout the day with a cash prize or items supplied as donations from the local community.

Recruit good volunteers
Like golfers and sponsors, you want volunteers representing your organization to be fully invested in your cause. It’s crucial to utilize the skill sets, network, and talents of your volunteers. Choose an organized, professional, informed, and helpful team. Having a vast knowledge of golf isn’t required, but providing participants with a memorable experience is.

Establish a Contingency Plan

If you’re trying to raise money for a deserving cause, losing revenue because of uncontrollable details–like the weather–results in bad news for your nonprofit. Unexpected weather like rain can be bad for the golf game and for your fund-raising efforts. 

Thinking about canceling or rescheduling your event due to the weather?  Unless you have a detailed contingency plan in place, don’t! Canceling your event can lead to a loss of players and sponsors once you finally reschedule, resulting in a revenue loss.

The best backup plan is weather insurance for golf tournaments. Golf weather insurance can offer the dependability that the weather cannot and help protect your non-profit or organization from lost revenue or increased expenses caused by excessive rain, heat, cold, or a combination. Vortex works with you to help you understand your event’s specific weather risks. With in-house meteorologists and historical weather data, we can help define the worst-case scenario so you can avoid it. Our products range from data-driven hourly policies that insure your one-time event to long-term solutions that reduce risk and help protect your bottom line. We write a policy customized to your course or tournament needs with experience, simplicity, and flexibility.

How does weather insurance work?

Rain insurance is a parametric product. When we use the term “parametric,” we mean that specific parameters are used to analyze data and determine outcomes, but the perils are predetermined by your policy. There’s no need for proof of loss or for us to send out adjusters.

A rain insurance policy for your golf tournament will trigger if recorded rainfall meets or exceeds the threshold listed in your policy during your selected coverage period.

The parameters to measure this include:

  • Rainfall measured by a third party—in our case, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Your location, as measured in a 2.5×2.5 mi-square grid surrounding your event’s location
  • Your chosen threshold for rainfall, which can be as low as 1/10 (.1) inch
  • Your desired coverage period—which can cover a few hours to a few days

The policy triggers if your rainfall threshold is met. That’s it. You don’t have to prove you lost revenue or that the event was canceled. If the policy triggers, payment is made, even if the event continues.

Choose Custom Coverage for Your Golf Event


When rain during your event is the main concern, you can select risk periods that align with your tee times. This coverage is best for events where the start and end times are pretty well set in stone.

Extended Coverage

When looking at golf tournament weather insurance, Extended Hours Coverage works best for tournaments, full days of play, or for considering pre-play course conditions. 

Ladder Coverage

Ladder coverage is based on the amount of rain that falls. It’s possible to build a policy where payments increase as the recorded rain amount increases.

Weather Insurance and Your Golf Event Fit Each Other to a Tee 

There are many details to consider when planning a golf tournament–worrying about the weather shouldn’t be one of them. Vortex offers our products nationwide and can help protect your event from weather risk any day or any time. We’ll help you stay in the green so you can focus on putting players on the green.

Call us today for a free quote 1-203-550-6150 or use our online portal to start building your policy.