Whether it’s for charity, part of a corporate day out, or a booster for your college, golf tournaments can be great fun.
In this article, I will give you some fun golf tournament ideas that you can use if you are asked to organize or help out with this sort of event. There is nothing too serious in my article here; we are not talking about PGA standards! Fun tournaments are more about a good day out or some good fun on the weekend. If you are fundraising as part of your competition, then many of these ideas can be used to get the cash flowing into your coffers as well.
A lot of fun golf tournaments will aim to please all the family. With this in mind, I will give you ideas that will appeal to all ages and different skill levels. If you offer something for everyone, then all your customers will go away happy. Prizes and rewards will get everyone in the competitive spirit and can also provide some great photo opportunities.
Aim to maximize the number of ‘feel good’ spots in the day. Here is an example: if you are featuring playing a round of golf in the day, there is nothing wrong with having the first prize at the end (or you can even spread out the rewards and have first prizes for men, first prizes for ladies, and also for youngsters and seniors). However, you will get more engagement and will have even more fun if there are extra rewards for tasks and gimmick holes as you go around the course.
Plan and try out your ideas in advance
To get off to a good start, you are going to need to do some planning. First, get an organizing team together, and then write down all your ideas for your tournament. You will find plenty of mine below, but nearly all of them can be varied, and I’m sure if you have a brainstorming session, you can think up some great ones of your own.
A word of warning here, though. Ideas that can sound great when you are sitting around a table, chewing the fat, and swapping ideas, may not work so well in practice. You want to avoid putting on things that will not work out on the day of the real tournament. Nothing is worse than realizing your good idea has a fatal flaw when people are already at your event. So, try out every idea for a challenge you have, give it a dry run before you go public with it.
To do this well means planning each challenge or fun idea in advance. Then head out to the course where you will be holding the fun golf tournament and take your organizing team and a few golfers of varying abilities to see if it all works out.
You need to be checking two things, above all. First, do the individual challenges and fun tasks you have set actually work? Second, ask yourself and the team: are they too easy or too hard? You want something most people can have a decent stab at, but something which has a bit of a challenge to it as well. If everyone can do it successfully, then there is no pride in winning, and it is the winning that is half the fun, but if no one can do it, people will get bored and even feel a bit foolish.
So, test out each challenge or idea to see if it works for the sort of people who will be at your event. Remember, not everything, not every particular notion you are planning, appeals to everyone who will be attending.
Vary the challenges for different skill levels. You can have beginners’ challenges, high handicappers’ challenges, low handicappers’ challenges, and even challenges for people who have not picked up a golf club or played before. Just make sure they are clearly titled and explained so everyone knows where they should go for their skill level.
You can also make a feature of the challenges for the best golfers who are attending, those low handicappers will love to show off their skills, and most of your audience will like to watch them.
Once you are sure that the individual ideas work, think about how they will work together. Ensuring that everything will be fine can be tough logistically, but take it systematically and check out the following, and you should be fine. How will the different challenges be spread around the course? How are you going to ensure that some challenges are not getting in the way of other events? How are you going to manage queues? Where are you going to hand out prizes?
So, go around the course, making sure that everything will flow smoothly on the big day.
One mistake many first-time organizers make is trying to do too much. Each part of your fun golf tournament needs room to breathe, and less can definitely be more.
It can add to the fun if you get people into teams. According to what your event is, you might have teams of families or groups from an office. It can also be a great way of getting strangers to meet each other if you want to encourage people to make new friends. Ask everyone to participate by throwing their name in a hat and draw the names out at random. Make sure you give each team a name and color or symbol.
Fun tournament ideas to get you started.
High and low
Break participants into teams of four and mark out a fixed number of holes to be played. Each player then puts in a set amount of money. Whichever group of four wins gets the pot of money. You can add a twist to this as well. The team which comes last has to match the amount in the money pot, and this is then donated to the tournament’s chosen charity or a charity of the losing team’s choice. That should motivate the weaker ones and do some good along the way.
Predict the score
Like the first challenge, this works well if played in teams of four. Each player has to predict their score over a set number of holes. Also, each player has to predict who will get the highest score. Give a prize for everyone who guesses correctly for either prediction.
Swords and hammers
This challenge can work for teams of four or bigger teams if you have a lot of people at your event. Each team plays the same hole on the golf course. Each player is given a random club each time they hit a shot. So, you may have to tee off with a putter and use a chipper on the green.
You can vary this if you can find a set of historic clubs (hunt around, you would be surprised how many golfers have grandpa’s old clubs in the attic). See how everyone does with a mashie niblick. This trip into the past will get golfing nerds talking in the clubhouse for months to come – it is incredible how different antique clubs feel and play. Make sure you have a camera for the photo opportunities which are bound to present themselves.
For this challenge, you will need a stopwatch and a team of four, time each team from start to hole out on a par 3 hole. The fastest team wins and gets a prize at the end of the day.
You can fit more teams in and make it easier by timing just the first two players who hole out. Changing this rule makes the game quicker, and more people get the chance to participate.
Golf games to score throughout the day
Bring some soft squidgy foam balls. (the type you see in children’s soft play centers). At a particular hole and with just one driver, start the challenge to hit the softball as far as possible. Run the event throughout the day. Mark every result with a flag with the name of the participant. A prize for the longest softball at the end of the day. You may want to introduce different awards for youngsters, ladies, and seniors or have a special bonus for high handicappers. The variations are endless and all great fun.
Beat the pro
Choose the best golfer among your participants. Everyone gets the chance to beat them at one hole on the course—a prize for every success. Offer a special incentive to the best golfer as well. It’s hard work winning all day, and it deserves a reward!
This idea is simple, but it is always popular. For example, give all right-handed golfers a left-handed driver and all left-handed golfers a right-handed driver.
Whoever hits the ball furthest down the fairway wins. You can vary this by letting each player tee off with their favorite club and introduce the left hand/ right hand later—a prize for the best at the end of the day.
Further variations on this theme can be using different clubs to hit the shot. Make sure you take photos of the best shots or the worst ones if you think your audience has a good sense of humor.
Fundraising opportunities at your fun golf tournament
If you are running a charity golf tournament event, there are many chances to get local businesses involved and raise even more money. Getting more local involvement will also up the profile of your day, so you have nothing to lose and lots to gain.
Here are a few ideas:
Sponsored drinks and snacks
If it is a hot summer day, people are going to get very thirsty. Can you get a local café or coffee shop to set up a drink stall on the course? All profits after costs go to the right cause. It’s a win-win. You raise some funds, they get their name out there and better-known, and excellent publicity for doing charitable work.
Wedge shot wonder
Can you get a local company to supply you with a big advertising banner? It needs to be a least 10 feet tall and about the same width. Place it at an appropriate place on the course and set up a competition. The competition is: who can make a wedge shot which gets the ball over the banner from, say, 30 feet out (the distance will depend on the skill level of your participants). Have a camera or a smartphone nearby to take pictures when the ball goes sailing over the top of the advertising banner. You can bet that the picture will appear in the local paper or on your neighborhood website. And I bet there is an excellent chance it will be in the lobby of the local business for years to come. Good publicity for everyone and good fun as well.
Sponsor a hole
Think about getting each business in your area to sponsor a different hole on the golf course you are using for the day. Charge more for sponsorship of the holes you know will be the busiest as the day unfolds. By organizing this way, you will get the maximum number of sponsors involved and spread the word about your event far and wide. Make sure you produce an attractive sponsorship pack and think about organizing a sponsors’ dinner or drinks before the fun golf tournament to allow the sponsors to meet each other and to thank them for their support. Make the most of your sponsors’ support, and you will get lots of people involved, and you and your good cause will become even better known in the area.
One club wizard
At the tee box, have a bag full of small cards. On one side is a sponsor’s name. On the other the name of ONE golf club, number 5 iron, sand wedge, putter, pitching wedge, etc. Each player pays to pull a card from the bag. They must then play the whole round with just that one club. As you might imagine, this is much harder than it looks! And to the person who has to play with a Number 1 iron, we hope they are a terrific player. At the end of the day, the winner gets a prize and a wizard’s hat with the sponsor’s name on it—another great photo opportunity.
Closest to the pin, best ball
On a par 3 hole, allow a set number of strokes per player. Then, after they have played their strokes, measure the distance from their ball to the hole.
The shortest distance gets first prize. Inching to the hole is a perfect challenge for everyone as you can run the challenge several times for players of different skill levels and abilities. Save the low handicapper challenge to last and let all the other participants know what time is happening. You will get a good crowd, and those best players will love the chance to show off their prowess.
If you plan your golf outing well and the sun shines, people are going to crowd onto your chosen golf course on the day of your fun golf tournament.
With the crowds will come the inevitable queues for your most popular challenges and events. Most people do not find queuing fun. Take away any boredom or frustration by organizing some distractions. It’s a good idea to have some side games to keep the customers busy while waiting for the main events.
Kids’ pool challenge
Set up a children’s inflatable paddling pool. The challenge is to chip the ball into the water. Offer a small prize for the best or for everyone who succeeds. Or you can use this fun idea for queue management. Anyone who hits the water moves up the queue by one place.
Chip over an obstacle and into a bucket. You can vary this by running five chips in a row challenge or even ten chips in a row. Unfortunately, we have seen people get so obsessed by this side event that they never move on to the primary challenge.
After the fun golf tournament is over
Whether you are running the event for charity, for a corporate day out, or just for fun, make sure you get the publicity out at the end. Not only will this make everyone feel good, it makes it much more likely that your next event will be even more successful.
Make sure you keep taking photos as the day proceeds. It can be well worth employing a professional photographer or video team, so you get a lovely glossy memory to show everyone who has an interest.
I would strongly advise you to set up a website or a Facebook page. Ensure that this is up and running well before the event, and you can use it to advertise the fun golf tournament and get sponsors involved. Then after the event, report how it went and post as many photos and videos as you can. Get this done the day after the event if you can. You want to take advantage while interest is still high. Make sure all your sponsors know about it and, of course, everyone who came along.
My tip is to make sure you have advance publicity. Tell everyone there will be a Facebook page, where it is and its name, or the website address at the event, perhaps by giving everyone a little business-sized card with a ‘thank you for coming’ message and the relevant online addresses.
Getting a business card will make people feel unique and valued and much more likely to come to your next golf tournament.
Fun golf tournament ideas – Celebrate
Good luck and have fun. And make sure that you take the time to congratulate yourself and your organizing team. Putting together a fun golf tournament can be demanding and challenging, and the day itself can be tiring. So, take some time to give all of you a big pat on the back. Then, go out for dinner or meet up the next week. Or even meet up for a round of golf very soon.