Big Prizes

John Grothe, the 2005 Pacific Northwest PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year for Resort Facilities and 2006 Pacific Northwest PGA Section Junior Golf Leader, is the PGA director of golf at Arrowcreek Country Club in Reno, Nev.

In this economy, we wanted to create a buzz around our facility that would really work to drive more rounds. Our answer was a Shot at a Million hole-in-one contest and fundraiser. For 100 days leading up to the contest, people qualified by being closest to the pin on our par-3 fifth hole. Whoever is the closest out of each group that comes through the hole is invited to come back for the shot at a million. We also have a weekly winner that wins $1,000 in merchandise credit or golf shop credit that they can use towards green fees. There’s no fee to enter, as the event is sponsored by the benefiting charities and through corporate partnerships – such as Titleist, which extended discounted wholesale rates on Pro V1 golf balls that we gave away to participants as an added value. If someone makes the hole-in-one on contest day, that person wins $1 million, and another million is split between two charities: JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Reno. We’re insuring the million dollars through a company called Hole-in-One International, which is actually owned by one of our members. It’s a way to build excitement around our facility at a relatively low cost, and it gives us a vehicle to talk to the local community as well as become great neighbors in the community by supporting the charities.

For us, several things have come from this: we’re driving rounds, getting people excited and most importantly getting people out to the course. If a free chance at $1 million doesn’t get people excited and playing more golf, I’m not sure what will. In addition, our two benefiting charities are also the official charities of our local cable television station. The station produced a commercial for us because we’re supporting their charities. The charities themselves have also been promoting the contest. This has been a great way to give back while generating interest and play at our facility.