Ball Drop in Outing

kelly-childsKelly Childs, the 2004 Carolinas PGA Section Golf Professional of the Year and past president, is the professional emeritus at the Country Club of Sapphire Valley in Cashiers, N.C.

A ball drop is a unique device for fundraising that is an exciting event for customers, providing a vehicle for them to contribute to a worthy cause in an amount comfortable for any donor, while also providing an opportunity to win a great prize. It can also be a nice way for non-golfers to get involved with a golf outing or event. Initially, customers register for the ball drop by making a purchase of one or many golf balls. We normally use old range balls or used balls donated by members. Balls individually sell for $5 while five go for $20, 15 for $50, or 40 for $100. If possible, it is advantageous to allow members to charge their purchase to their club accounts as it negates the need to have credit cards or checks on them at the time of purchase. As balls are purchased, the registration staff records the name of the player in numerical order and, with a marking pen, writes the number corresponding to the player’s name on the golf balls purchased. The balls are then placed in a barrel to be included in the drop. I enlisted the Ladies Golf Association at our club to handle the registration. The concept culminates with hundreds of golf balls dropped from any height onto the course (green, tee, or fairway) with a target of a cup. The closest ball to the cup, or more often the ball in the bottom of the cup, is the winning ball.

Our prize for the winning ball is $1,000 cash. This amount should be based on the estimated take from purchases. Our ball drops typically raise $3,000 to $5,000, and we’ve also had some winners who have gone above and beyond and donated the prize back to the charity.¬†One of the things to stress is that if you’re tight on money or don’t have a helicopter nearby to drop the golf balls, you can get inventive and still do the drop through other avenues. While we’ve used hot air balloons and fire truck ladders as other mechanisms to initiate the drop, there are many other simpler ways to do it out there as well while still having a great experience. And while it’s not quantifiable, any event that brings lots of people together is always a positive for the bottom line. Conducting this event in conjunction with a tournament ensures the participants will be available for the event, which should be open to staff and bystanders as well. The drop itself can be a great feature of the after-golf party culminating the day’s activities, and can serve as a fun bonding event for both the membership and the staff.

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