Scoring-Optional Tournaments

Paul-SargentPaul Sargent is the PGA director of golf for the The First Tee of Chesterfield in North Chesterfield, Va.

Every year on the Saturday before Father’s Day, we host a scoring-optional event that also includes aspects that stimulate conversation between participating fathers and their children. The outing starts at 2 p.m. and is split into two parts: older juniors and their fathers play 9 holes on either side of our 18-hole course, while juniors six years-old and under play with their fathers on our three-hole course, which is expanded to six holes by including a SNAG golf hole between each of the regular holes. During this event at The First Tee of Chesterfield, we partner with First Things First to help stimulate parent involvement in the lives of their children. One unique aspect of the tournament is having a sign with a conversation starter every third hole on the 18-hole course and every other hole on the 6-hole course. For example, these signs get the kids to ask their fathers “What is your greatest golf memory?”, or a father to ask his child “What do you enjoy most about golfing?” We find that this is a great way to promote bonding and a trusting relationship between children and their fathers. The scoring-optional aspect of the event not only reduces pressure and allows junior golfers to focus on enjoying the afternoon with dad, but it also allows competitive juniors the opportunity to feel proud of posting a great score if they played well alongside their father.

The outing has grown in popularity during the three years we have run it; what started out as 13 foursomes in the first year has grown into 22 foursomes taking part in the tournament. This past year, we even had to start a waiting list for people looking to enter. While the outing does mean closing down the course for most of the day, we can still fit in a good number of regular tee times in the morning prior to closing the tee. Since this event encourages the entire family to be involved in the game, it could be particularly useful for private clubs looking to promote a family atmosphere with positive parent involvement in their children’s lives. Due to the growth of the event, it has also become a good revenue generator with each player paying $15 to play in the nine-hole tournament and $10 each for the participants playing on the short course.