In most parts of the country the weather has warmed up enough for golfers to be hitting the links. The amateurs, with visions of Bubba Watson, are out in full force. The truth is most of them have made that very same “miracle” shot when they weren’t trying. Throughout the spring, summer and fall your local golf course will host many tournaments. This is an excellent opportunity to introduce your brand to a group of people with disposable income by offering up a prize for hitting a hole-in-one during the tournament. Over the years, I have sponsored more holes and tees than I can count and wanted to share some of what I learned.
Why not offer an insanely awesome trip to the golfer who hits that miracle shot? You don’t have to personally guarantee the prize you are offering. You can purchase an insurance policy to pay for the prize if a player actually does sink a hole-in-one. I have been buying policies from http://www.holeinoneinternational.com/ since day one. The cost of the policy is based on a number of variables including the value of the prize, the distance to the hole and the number of players participating. As for cost, it ends up being less than most trade show booths. Some tournaments will also require a tee sponsorship to go along with the hole-in-one. You can always negotiate this in exchange for your participation. The one benefit of Hole in One International is they cover the whole tournament. So if someone hits it first thing in the morning, and again in the afternoon—you are covered.
Remember, the insurance company will not take your word. You need an independent eyewitness! I record the players taking their shots. Keep in mind that you have already bought the insurance! You want someone to win! Imagine the chatter around the course when someone hits it! The players at my local course now recognize me and, with the exception of last year, I have ended up with a booking each time where the commission earned more than offsets the premium. I have also been invited to participate in other tournaments at other courses—so everyone wins!
The “WOW” Prize
You are not going to want to offer a $399 cruise on a line’s oldest ship. Prizes in these contests have been cars, boats, and trips to other golf courses. Create a unique package — a cruise or a FIT to St. Andrews along with stops to play golf in Iceland on the way! You do have to price it for two and let the winner decide who goes. This year my prize will be an Alaskan cruise for two along with first class airfare from Atlanta as part of a group I am promoting for July 2013.
I should note that the way my prize works is if someone gets a hole-in-one, they get one of my gift cards, pre-loaded with the value of the prize. It does not have to be used for that particular trip, but it may not be exchanged for cash.
If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get
When I participate, I make a few requests in exchange for my participation. I ask for the names, emails and/or addresses of all players; I ask to appear at the pre-tournament dinner to mention the prize; and I ask to be present at the awards ceremony to present the prize. To ensure I get the most bang for my buck, I will offer a “closest to the hole” prize as a consolation should no one sink a hole-in-one. For this, I have offered a golf bags or a piece of luggage filled with my collateral. Finally, I ask for exclusive use of a golf cart during the tournament.
Collect a Donation
I have learned that many players are used to paying for a chance at the hole-in-one, usually in the form of a donation. My particular passion is the local Meals-on-Wheels program. As the players are setting up, I talk about where their donation will go and I explain that I am matching their donations up to a pre-determined amount. (I have always gone to $500). To maximize your fundraising efforts, be sure to seed the bowl with change at the beginning of the day.
The added benefit is the public relations when you present a photo-op sized check to your particular charity. This earned me kudos (as a driver and a benefactor) from the organization at their ground-breaking ceremony for their expansion. It never hurts to be mentioned favorably in front of community political and business leaders.
I once sponsored two days of the tournament, which was a long time to stand and just too much energy spent. One day is enough. Bring a cooler with snacks and water. You have to be constantly “on” so resist an alcoholic libation from the cart server. Have just a few brochures and your own collateral and business cards as the players really don’t have time to take a bunch of brochures. It can get windy on the course and it is no fun chasing your blowing materials down. Be sure to use sunscreen and wear a hat! I use a six-foot folding table I found at Costco, a tablecloth, a runner with my logo and a fishbowl to collect donations. I make sure the goody bags for the golfers are filled with my collateral (notepads, pens, etc.).
Have you sponsored any events? Sports? Entertainment? Festivals? What are the lessons you have learned? Do you have any other lessons learned from sponsoring your own hole-in-one contest? Let me know in the comments below!
Chuck Flagg is a regular contributor to TRO and an independent owner/operator of Cruise Holidays in Canton, GA. His website is www.theflaggagency.com He can be found on Twitter @theflaggagency
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