Creative Tournament Themes

Greg Rowley, the 2008 Pacific Northwest PGA Section President’s Award recipient for growing the game, is the former PGA director of golf at The Club at Black Rock in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He is the author of “Golf, Naked: The Bare Essentials Revealed.”

A few years ago, when we first opened the club, we had a unique opportunity to create a culture of fun and creative tournaments, and came up with a great idea for our men’s member-guest. Located in Idaho, we looked into the history of the area and realized that Wyatt Earp had retired here in his later years. With this perfect opportunity for branding, we named the member-guest tournament The Wyatt Earp, and brought in some great gifts to tie it all into our western location. For the first year, we had reps from Stetson come in and custom fit each player with a cowboy hat. The rep would ask each player what kind of cowboy he wanted to be, and fit the hat and steam the brim so the shape was appropriate for cowboys from the player’s chosen part of the country. The following year, players received cowboy boots and hunting knives with elk-antler handles and the Club’s logo laser-etched onto the blade. We brought this western theme into more than just the gifts: Each of the flights is named after a famous gunfighter, like Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Bat Masterson, Sundance Kid, James Wesley Hardin, Turkey Creek Jack, and Liver Eatin’ Johnson. Then, the winners of each flight earned their deputy badges – custom sheriff’s badges we had made. The deputies all then competed in the Shootout to win the grand prize, antique Colt .45 pistols in a nice display box. We even had a custom bronze Wyatt Earp statue made that sits on a basalt pillar next to the first tee, and the tournament winners get their names permanently carved in stone.

Taking that extra step and building a theme defines your tournament, which makes it more than just another event. For our Wyatt Earp member-guest, our members certainly took notice. We accepted entries (by e-mail only) on a set day and time each year, and the event always sold out within an hour. It’s especially fun because everyone wants to know what that year’s gifts will be. Plus, with the statue, the winners would be forever remembered at the club, and in turn, both the members and guests forever remember the event. When it comes to tournament and outing events, making a memorable experience is your primary goal, and creating an event that’s themed around your geographic location or a unique bit of history to your region is a great way to do this.