Have you ever been to a golf tournament and thought about what really goes on behind the scenes to make all the magic happen? As a player, you’re used to just showing up at your given tee time, playing, and then going home. You may not realize all the work and communication that goes into putting on an event until you’re the one doing it. After being an avid tournament player myself, I was in for a surprise after starting work with the Championships and Golf Operations team at the SCGA.
Before the Event
The planning of an event is the most crucial part to its success. Starting at least a month out, you have to reach out to everybody and anybody involved and figure out details like yardages, tee times, field size, food and beverage, carts, range services, etc. Any of these things can change at any given moment, so communication and flexibility are key.
Once this information is determined, then you must relay all of it to the players and determine pairings. Sometimes pairings are just a matter of random grouping, but in some events, there are requests where players want certain tee times or want to be paired with specific players. On top of all of that, you must take into consideration pace of play. Higher handicaps in the beginning tee times may slow down some of the quicker players behind them and create gaps and back-ups on holes.
Then lastly creating assignments for rules officials. Sometimes you have a large field, so you have great course coverage for all problem areas but sometimes you have to make do with only a few officials. Regardless, SCGA tournaments would be nothing without rules officials and volunteers, and I know the players appreciate their presence in tackling the course!
All the planning helped me build confidence and truly take complete ownership in something that would impact almost 100 players with each event. It didn’t come naturally, and mistakes were made along the way, but by the time of the tournament everything falls into place and I can have full confidence in my ability to make thoughtful and responsible decisions for my events.
The planning is all done. Now what? The day of the event in my opinion is the easiest and most fun part of running a tournament. The hardest part is probably waking up at the crack of dawn to get to the course and start set up. Set up is also a whole different story. I’m 5’4’’ and lack upper body strength, so the idea of me setting up a giant pop-up tent was a daunting task at first. Usually staff and people nearby are always more than willing to help, but I was determined to do this all by myself. I gathered tips and tricks from my coworkers who can set them up in 25 seconds and practiced setting up the tent in my driveway at home before my first solo event until I mastered it. Could I open it in 25 seconds? Definitely not, but being able to do it on my own was good enough for me.
Once tents, tables, and signage are all set up, the rest falls into place and you just have to be there to solve any issues that happen on the course and then verify scores with the players after their round. It’s always motivating for me to see other players compete and makes me want to practice more so I can better my game and be on the players’ side of the event again.
After the Event
The event is over, now you can relax…well sort of. Sending "Thank Yous" to the course staff and rules officials is always important and helps maintain positive relationships. Sometimes things do come up from players like potential cheating incidents (which to my luck happened right after my first event), but ultimately you just have to roll with the punches and try and resolve everything so everyone leaves the event happy, apart from their own performance in the actual tournament, you can’t do anything about that. Then you can relax and pat yourself on the back until it’s time to do it all again.
My hopes are that you understand and appreciate all the goes into putting on an event. This might even inspire you to run your own, volunteer, or even if it’s just something on a smaller scale for your friends. I found it empowering to be able to take charge and run things the way I wanted to, and the positive impact it has on other golfers is truly a rewarding feeling.
Want to learn more about volunteering for an event? Contact us!