Over the years, I have hosted hundreds of charity events and even did consulting work for the March of Dimes by going to different chapters to explain why my event was so successful. Having seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, I would like to pass on a few tips, pointers, and resources to make things easier.
This information is geared primarily toward people that are new to charity events, but I think there is good information for people that have been involved for a long time.
There are three types of people that will sign up for your event. The people that think it’s a good deal and will be fun, the people that really want to support your charity, and the people that are dedicated to winning it. For this last group you can’t do anything to stop them. This is why you don’t put a lot of money into prizes, especially first place. Put your money into things that everyone can enjoy and share in.
Find a course that people actually will pay to play. It will not be the cheapest one. This is key to them feeling they are getting a deal. Do not make the mistake of thinking you are going to make a lot of money off the difference between what the course charges and what you charge the players because you want. The bulk of your money will be made off sponsors. Don’t think the course is going to give you a discount because you are a charity. If it’s a good course, they get dozens of inquiries from charity groups every year.
It takes several years and a lot of work to build a tournament up to where you are raising good money. Make certain that you spend on the contestants so they feel they are getting their money’s worth. You need to put money into the goodie bags because everyone gets one, but put some thought into it. Golfers don’t need another logoed shirt or cap.
You are going to need a committee of volunteers that are willing to work. Finding volunteers is easy, finding ones that will actually work is hard. The committee chair needs to be someone with good organizational skills, not golf knowledge. Someone having played in events is far from qualified to run one. From the golf standpoint that is what the pro shop staff is for. By all means leave the actual running of the event that day up to them. They are professionals at it.
The most common format is some variation on a scramble. You can have a straight scramble and keep it simple, but there are a couple of variations that I have found over the years that work better. When a lot of the players don’t have any type of verifiable handicap you should use “Step Aside.” This is where everyone hits off the tee and then whomever’s shot is selected steps aside on the next shot. It keeps the “A” player from dominating. If they do have handicaps then the USGA has a recommended formula. I use it so that when questions come up about handicaps you can say that it is the USGA recommendation.
Q. Does the USGA® have handicap allowance recommendations for a scramble or skins event?
A. Visit Section 9-4 of the USGA Handicap System manual for handicap allowances recommended by the USGA Handicap Department. Since a scramble is not played under the principles of The Rules of Golf, it will not be found in the manual. However, this recommendation seems to work well for most groups, regardless of minimum number of drives required or other special conditions:
4-Person Scramble*: 2-Person Scramble*:
20% A 35% A
15% B 15% B
* Based on a percentage of Course Handicap™
Please visit Section 9-4 of the USGA Handicap System manual for further reference.
Here is a copy of basic scramble rules that I got off Dean L. Knuth the Pope of Slope website:
1. Format is a modified four-person scramble. All four team members tee off on each hole and then decide which tee shot they like best and mark the spot. The player who hit the selected drive, then can hit a practice shot, but his or her ball from the selected spot cannot be used. The best shot of the other three players is then selected and used. All four players can then play from the spot of the selected second shot and into the hole. This modification is to help to prevent one outstanding player from dominating the team performance and to make the tournament to be a team effort.
2. From selected shots, each player can place the ball within one club length, no closer to the hole. If the selected ball is in the rough, each player must play from the rough.
3. Men are to tee off from the White tees. Women are to tee off from the Red tees.
4. The team must select three drives of each player on the team during the round. It does not matter what the par is for the three drives. Remember, when a player’s drive is used, his or her second shot cannot be used on that hole.
5. If a team has only three players, one player will play two shots, to take the place of the missing player. The three players must take turns hitting for the missing player, so over 18 holes, each of the three players must play for two players on a total of six holes.
6. Mark the selected ball on the putting green. Each player is to attempt the putt from the same spot. The first ball to go in is counted for the team score. If no player makes the putt, mark the best remaining putt and all team members are to putt from there.
7. If the ball that the team selects is in a hazard (bunker or water), or in the rough, or out of bounds, you cannot drop the ball outside the hazard or rough, even if relief is within one club length away. If the ball selected is in a sand bunker, everyone must hit from the sand bunker within one club length. You can rake the bunker after each shot. If the ball selected was in the water, drop out under USGA Rules procedures and add a penalty stroke for each player hitting from the drop. A ball hit out of bounds is usually not selected, but if it is, the players all must re-hit from where the ball was hit before it went out of bounds, and each player must add a “stroke and distance penalty” (2 strokes).
8. Double bogey is the maximum team score on any hole. Teams that reach a score of double bogey on a hole are to pick-up and move on to the next tee.
9. Rule number nine is please have a good time.
Remember that the USGA will not make a ruling involving a scramble. If you call USGA headquarters they will only laugh at. The committee, which should include the local golf professional, makes the final decision on any rules question.
You can also enlist the help of a Certified Tournament Planner to give you professional guidance with your event. Check the link to find one near you.
Here is a link provided to me by the President of the GTPA (Golf Tournament Planner Association) that is the best and most detailed I have ever seen. I highly recommend that you download this PDF document.