by Sarah J.F. Braley | January 01, 2005

illustrationAs if there aren’t enough details to worry about when planning a meeting, adding a golf tournament piles on a course-long list of extras. Once the date has been chosen, follow these helpful guidelines.

First steps
" Define the event’s objective. Is it a charity event, fun corporate outing, association tournament, sales event?
    " Give yourself enough time. The larger the group or more exclusive the golf course the farther in advance you should work. At the earliest, start a year out, as soon as this year’s event is done.
    Most major components of the event should be in the works by about three months out. The last three months should be devoted to fine-tuning.
    " Set a budget. “Look at what you’re planning to provide the players, the cost of the facility and food events surrounding the tournament, and divide it for the per-player cost,” says Jeff Graham, manager of golf championship rules and competitions for the Golf Course Superintendents Association in Lawrence, Kan. “Add in administrative costs, marketing, salaries, cell-phone rental, copiers, computers everything.”
    With a full field (144 players or more), see if you can book the course for half or the whole day, advises Roger Caldwell, president of Mission, Kan.-based Great Golf Events. “Then compare the buyout price to the per-player fee,” he adds.

Booking the club
" Aim to impress. Before deciding where to go, if this is a recurring event, consider where it was played previously and upgrade a bit. “You want to make the event better than last year,” says Eric Redd, principal of Palm Desert, Calif.-based The Golf Event Co.
    " Public or private? Public courses tend to be the biggest bargains. Resorts have large staffs and are used to handling big groups. Private clubs carry prestige but  might not be able to handle all your needs, although they’ll often let you provide services they can’t.
    “What are you trying to accomplish?” asks Caldwell of Great Golf Events. For fund-raising events, you’ll want to balance course-rental costs with the amenities available there. For a high-end event, spend more for a comparable, memorable course that will draw more players.
    " Site inspect. Look at the course’s attractiveness. For large events, ask if there are any restrictions on full shotgun starts (144 golfers teeing off together).
    " Evaluate staffing. Is the club willing to provide more people
if you require them? Sometimes you’ll have to supply the extra help. Graham of the GCSA, who works on the association’s two-day tournament, must accommodate hundreds of players. “Staffing on-site includes about 20 people from the GCSA and 40 people from our sponsor company,” he notes.
    " Check on rentals. Plan for more club rentals than you’ll need, and make sure the course has an adequate supply.
    " Ask questions. How difficult is the layout? What is the maintenance schedule? Is there a required minimum of paying golfers? Are there F&B minimums? Will the club provide box lunches? Are the locker-room and shower facilities sufficient? Is there a practice range? What are the dress and behavior codes? Is catering provided? Can the group bring in an outside caterer? Are there facilities for a post-tournament event? If such events typically are held outdoors, is there a backup indoor space? Will the pro shop be open before and after your tournament? (Winners will want to redeem pro shop certificates that day.)