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By Jim Brown

VVA’s Mesquite Chapter 993, one of the newest in the country, decided to establish a chapter home that could be used to help veterans apply for benefits and as a place for chapter members who want to help. We started assisting veterans at the Mesquite Senior Center, but soon realized the need to expand the program.

We went through the steps to lease property from the city of Mesquite, with financial assistance from several grants. However, we still needed to generate funds to operate on a day-to-day basis.

Mesquite, Nevada, is located about 90 miles north of Las Vegas on I-15 at the Nevada-Arizona border, 35 miles south of St. George, Utah. Known for its mild climate, Mesquite is a snow bird destination and a retirement community with no fewer than twelve golf courses inside the city limits. In a community like this, “Golf” is spoken fluently. So we decided to start an annual Mesquite Veterans Center Golf Tournament at Wolf Creek Golf Club. Wolf Creek is a par 71, 7,000-yard course rated No. 21 in the nation. Our first tournament will be held on August 11.

The first thing we needed to consider when planning the tournament was what to offer the golfer. We have a venue that offers challenge at an affordable price of $100 per golfer for a course that normally would charge about $250. We are providing a Hole in One opportunity with a $10,000 purse that is covered through an insurance policy costing about $700. We have been advised to keep the cash prizes to a minimum to eliminate the possibility of having players unfairly fudge their handicaps.

We will have an awards luncheon the afternoon of the tournament—also included in the fee. We sent a letter to the business community seeking sponsorship of tee box signs for $100 and fairway green sponsorships for $150. We have also established various levels of sponsorships: Gold at $1,000; Silver, $500; Bronze, $250. Each level provides a golf slot, with special recognition in the tournament literature and at the luncheon.

Chapter members, armed with registration pamphlets, are soliciting prizes for the silent auction that will be held during the luncheon.  On the day of the tournament, we will sell mulligans at $5 each or three for $10.

The cost to the chapter is $45 for each golfer, including the luncheon. Hard costs include sponsorship signs, sponsor plaques, and printing. We are trying to get co-operative ads by having golf shops put our logo and basic information on their normal advertising. We have prepared flyers to post at golf courses all over the Nevada-Arizona-Utah area.

Even though this is our first tournament, we hope to clear $12,500, with about 128 golfers in a shot-gun start. The neat thing about these tournaments is the assistance and cooperation of the course personnel.

We would like to invite the VVA golfing community to come and have a good time while helping us provide for a much-needed Veterans Service Center.

Jim Brown is president of Mesquite, Nevada, Chapter 993. He can be reached at vetinfo@vvamesquite.org

BY BILL MESSER

Golf tournaments are one of the most popular and fun ways to raise funds for any organization. Several fundamental rules must be followed. Two of the most important are: You must have a golf course and you must have golfers.

Planning for your tournament is very important and will be a crucial factor in its success. A minimum of six months to plan should be set aside; nine months to a year is ideal. Seed money of $1,000-$2,000 minimum is necessary to start things off properly. Funds can start being raised prior to the event and then used to cover the costs associated with the tournament.

The Immediate cost will be a deposit for the course, usually 10 percent of the number of golfers’ fees (for example, 100 golfers at $45 per requires a $450 deposit). This can vary. Final payment usually is due a week to ten days before the event. It works nicely, however, if you can negotiate for payment to be made the day of the tournament.

When forming the tournament committee, you want to make sure to include golfers. Non-golfers don’t understand the game or the rules. The number of people on the committee depends on several things. Keep it simple. Eight to twelve members as the core group and any number of subcommittees to address other areas should work. Each step should be planned out with a time line.

There are professional fundraisers available who specialize in golf tournaments. Depending on your specific goals, it may be worth it to hire one. Most require a set fee; some go with a percentage of the action. This guide, however, focuses on members and volunteers.

Finding a course that will work for you and establishing a date and tee-off time should be accomplished early on. Since there are both private and public courses, you should know their rules of engagement: each course has its own rules about carts and etiquette.

Courses may operate on a seasonal basis. Over-seeding normally will take place in the fall. Timing is important. Weekday tournaments are usually the easiest to arrange but the most difficult to get golfers to attend. Private courses have men’s and women’s clubs and teams, so their tournaments and courses are restricted. But they often are the most receptive to tournaments, and their pros and staff are well versed in working with organizations to provide such extras as meals, score keeping, sound system, placing hole sponsorship signs, and preparing carts. If I were to make a recommendation, I’d say to go with the private course. Much depends on where you’re located. This is where the committee’s golfers come in handy.

Easy access and a central location have an impact on who comes out. If a course lets you have its 18 holes for free—which some do as a donation—recognize a great opportunity and book it. Keep in mind that getting a course far out of town may discourage golfers who won’t drive an excessive distance. Arranging transportation could be an option. Tournament golfers usually play for several reasons, one being the cause the tournament is supporting, another being the little incentives such as raffles, auctions, gift bags, and shirts.

Once you have a course and a date, you need to advertise. Flyers, email blitzes, letters, and door knocking are the most important parts of the event.

Entrance fees vary. Standard practice is to double the course fees. Fees are basically what the market will handle, usually $85-$100. Golf courses ask for their normal fee to use the course, but it isn’t unheard of for a course to donate or reduce the fee. You’ll need to arrange for food and drink. Most courses do not allow food or drinks to be brought in. The standard cost these days is around $10-$15 dollars for lunch. Grilled dogs and burgers, or a bagged lunch with a sandwich and chips is the norm. If the tournament will have golfers traveling from afar, make arrangements with the pro shop to have rental clubs available.

In a perfect world, organizers will have golfers signed up and paid at least ten days prior to the tournament. We have not turned down golfers who come in at the last minute, but we discourage that. Most courses want to know up front how many golfers will take part. Most courses require a deposit based on that number, usually 10 percent. And they want that fee upfront.

Sponsorship is a way to fund start-up fees. Offering Gold, Silver, and Copper levels of sponsorship can help. We contacted a local car dealership, and they agreed to sponsor our last tournament. Other local businesses contributed. It is imperative that you make the contact. No matter how good the cause, it is rare that a prospective sponsor will come to you. Sponsoring a hole is a time-honored way for groups and individuals to get involved. Average sponsorship is around $100 per hole.

Sponsorships include a foursome, banner, and mention in the program. Companies such as Hole-in-One provide signs and insurance on a hole-in-one prize. There are a variety of games that can be used in tournament play. The most popular is the four-man scramble, with a shotgun start, best ball. This means that golfers tee off from all of the holes at the same time, all the golfers hit, and the best ball is used.

Having fun is mandatory. Good planning, good weather, and good friends enhance your tournament. There are putting contests, longest drive, straightest drive, closest to the pin, and raffles, auctions, and other ways to make a small turnout of golfers into a money-making event. Goody bags with tees and golf balls are always appreciated.

But remember: Planning ahead is the key to success.

 

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