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If you plan it (well), they will come (play).

I’ve just returned from playing in the inaugural Desert Classic in Tempe, Arizona.  For those of you who organize women’s golf tournaments, I wanted to pass along best practices I saw there so you can consider them for your next signature event.  I’m a huge believer that if you plan a great tournament, women will be willing to pay and play.

The Desert Classic is the vision of Tori Totlis who founded Compete Confidence Golf, which include women’s golf practice programs, golf retreats and tournaments.  You may have seen my post back in November when she announced that she was accepting entires for up to 200 women to play in Arizona for three days.  She was able to attract 216 women to play at Papago Golf Club— a tremendous success. 

Here are a few of the best practices I saw:

Pre-Event Contact

This was executed before anyone left home.  Tori and her team sent all players a signature hot pink 3/4-zip long sleeve shirt from Taylor Jordan.  This arrived with a welcoming note about a month prior to the tournament.  What a surprise and it definitely got me excited.  Even if your tournament is going to attract mostly members or others from your city, sending a gift before the event is a great idea to build excitement.

Not Just Any Reception

Most players played a practice round the day before the start of the tournament (for some this was the day of their arrival).  That evening, Tori organized a shopping extravaganza with some great brands,  Taylor Jordan, KT Tape, JoFit and a new retail store with which I was unfamiliar, Alixandra Collections.   KT Tape gave away sample bags and explained how to use it — a great touch. (As they say in advertising, nothing is more powerful than a demonstration.)  Better than, I think, a simple reception, I would recommend having vendors appear like this at your event with merchandise to sell there and/or to take orders.  These trunk shows are becoming more commonplace during events (my former club in Denver did this earlier last year), but for sure it makes mingling and conversation amongst participants easier and creates connections.  Sales representatives from lines are usually very happy to attend and show their collections.

Live Entertainment

During the three days of tournament play, a DJ was in the cart staging area near the driving range.  The music got everyone pumped up for their rounds.






The Entitled Housewife aka Becky Robinson

Lisa Longball (R)

At our first night’s dinner the live entertainment continued.  The Entitled Housewife aka Becky Robinson, made a one-hour appearance.  (Check out one of her first clips here.)   You might consider local talent at your event.  In addition to all the great women I met during the four days, I was especially excited to meet Lisa Longball (the eight-time Canadian Long Drive National Champion!).  Her real name is Lisa Vlooswyk and she was our keynote speaker during our awards ceremony on the final evening. She is a great storyteller.  She was followed by the local band Elvis Before Noon.


Fitness Focus

A yoga-type stretching session for each shotgun group (the size of the event required a double shotgun each day) was available.  In addition, The Stretch Lab offered free individual stretching sessions.  A local sports training, yoga or physical therapy group might be willing to do something like this for your tournament.

Ball Fitting

Several of the major manufacturers now have full-time reps touring the country doing nothing but ball fittings.  Titleist had their reps present.  Free samples!  


Little Things Making Big Difference

Several comfort stations were set up around the course with Bandaids, Advil, snacks and water.  All stuff you need when you play for several days in a row.  

Post Event Survey

I just received Tori’s survey via email.  I am sure she will learn what to emphasize and de-emphasize so her tournament can continue to be successful. Nothing but good can result from candid feedback like what she’s soliciting.  I used to own a PR firm and recommend you use Constant Contact for your survey.  Discover what people most liked and most disliked about your event and you will be on your way to a successful tournament like The Desert Classic.

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