Ed Elsner of the Kohler Company is the tournament coordinator for the Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits golf courses in Sheboygan, WI, where the 2012 US Women’s Open and the 2015 PGA Championship will be held.
Procure special caddy bibs with players’ names on the backs to provide the ultimate PGA-esque experience.
Take a cue from the Audi Quattro Cup and try parking your prizes at the holes to show your golfers what they’re playing for!
Ed Elsner, tournament coordinator for the Kohler Company, is the go-to source for planners who want to host a golf event at either of these two renowned courses. Even if your golfers aren’t quite PGA material, Elsner has a few tips for planning your next tournament.
Where to start? Elsner often begins working one-on-one with planners about a month in advance of group arrival, and the information-gathering process includes questions such as…
• Who are your attendees?
• What is the purpose of the golf tournament?
• Do you have a group of seasoned golfers?
• Are your players diverse in their experience?
Oftentimes, the majority of participants might only play once a year or so, and your goal might simply be to thank your guests, entertain them, and offer them the opportunity for a relaxed networking atmosphere with some fun prizes.
There are different types of golf games, and your attendee profile should determine which type will work best for your group. Since the majority of event planners don’t have much experience planning golf tournaments, Elsner often offers suggestions about how to keep score, types of contests to offer, and other special touches.
For example, for large groups representing unknown handicaps or groups including individuals who don’t play much, options like the Calloway Handicap System or the Peoria Handicap System work well. Elsner says he uses both systems and finds that they equal the playing field. Such an approach isn’t as competitive as other systems, which makes either option a friendly choice for players who are just looking for a fun event where the focus isn’t on finding the best golfer.
Along those lines: if the agenda calls for a good time, consider a game of “night golf.” Usually held in front of the clubhouse, this is a just-for-fun option that includes closest-to-the-pin or longest-drive contests along with cocktails and glow-in-the-dark golf balls.
Elsner also recommends a few extra-special touches:
• Procure special caddy bibs with players’ names on the backs to provide the ultimate PGA-esque experience.
• Have individual score cards pre-printed, so your participants feel like they’re playing in a pro tournament.
• Place the big prizes at the holes for a bit of visual incentive. For example, Elsner once looked into parking a small airplane on the course for a hole-in-one request; the organizers went with a boat giveaway instead.
• Bring in a trick-shot entertainer to perform feats like hits off a chest-high golf tee or impossible shots with gag golf clubs. Make sure to give people from the crowd a chance to try their hands!
by Shadia Cook
Give your players the pro experience.