Expanding Tournaments to Increase Participation

John-KuhlhammerJohn Kulhamer is the PGA head professional at Green Pond Golf Course in Bethlehem, Pa.

When I started working at Green Pond Golf Course in the mid-1990s, I wanted to increase participation in an already popular event. The Lehigh Valley Amateur was then a three-day event that averaged approximately 100 players. I expanded the tournament by tripling the length of the event, in turn increasing play by 300 percent. I was able to get community businesses involved through sponsorships and through that credibility, the interest and participation rose.

The event now has six major sponsors, all of which donate $1,000, and 50 more who give $500. The community has really embraced this tournament, which is now a nine-day community event. During the nine days, players compete in multiple qualifying rounds and a full match play schedule. Each year the Lehigh Valley Amateur attracts approximately 425 players, which is a fantastic return on investment. By expanding the tournament, the event has provided a real boon for Green Pond.