Turning Passion into Profit

chris-zelenkaChris Zelenka is the PGA head professional at Mount Airy Casino and Resort in Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania.

Everyone who knows me knows that I never slow down. When I’m not working to make my golf course the best it can be, I’m practicing or performing with my band or, in the winter, riding my snowmobile and monitoring my website, Sledfreak.com. I don’t wait around for outings to come knocking at the golf shop door. I’ve turned my interests into tournaments that raise money for charity and provide additional revenue for the golf club. I have two very successful events that I’m working on right now: the annual Snowmobilers Golf Tournament, and Rock ‘n’ Golf for Wildlife. My love for animals made the choice of one charity for this second event an easy one: the Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center (PWRC). I came up with the idea a couple years ago and contacted my musician friends, who were happy to perform one-hour sets. This year, I’m using some money from my marketing budget to pay for the entertainment, but you could easily find acts willing to donate their time. We make it a nice festivity. People are outside eating and drinking, listening to the music and playing golf. I’ve sold some vendor spots and sponsorships, too, and that money goes to PWRC. For the snowmobile tournament, I try to do it a week before our course closes, so I pick the third or fourth Sunday in October. This year’s is the 13th annual event, and I’ve done it at every course I’ve been at. Turnout is a solid 100 players every year. We raise money for a Sledfreak member or a charity we want to donate back to or the Pink Ribbon Riders, which is a group of snowmobiling women who do a cancer ride. This year, we’re donating back to a Sledfreak member who was paralyzed; the money will be used to buy a snowmobile that will be specially fitted for him.


We don’t do many charity outings because, frankly, I can make more money with daily play in season. But when things start to slow down, these outings can add quite a bit to the bottom line. For example, for our Rock ‘n’ Golf for Wildlife, we make $40 per golfer for about $7,000 in golf revenue, and we’ll also make a couple of grand in food & beverage revenue from golfers and from the non-golfers who come just to listen to the music (we charge them $10, which goes to the charity). The good will and publicity don’t hurt, either. The snowmobilers tournament provides a huge financial boost at the end of our season. I’ll bring in maybe $5,000 that day, at a time of year that I’d be lucky to bring in half that amount, and we get F&B money out of that event, too. So, the kitchen makes money, the golf shop makes money and the golf course makes money.

If you would like to email the author of this Best Practice directly, please email zmanpga12@gmail.com

Editor’s note: The above comments reflect the opinion and experiences of the submitting PGA Professional and are not endorsed by PGA Magazine or the PGA of America.