Use Fun Contests to Boost Participation

Ron-SniderRon Snider, the 1998 Kentucky PGA Section Assistant Professional of the Year, is the PGA director of golf at Persimmon Ridge Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.

Six years ago, I was looking for something to make our annual member-guest tournament more fun and engaging. Originally, I considered a club-throwing contest to see how far contestants could throw a club, but I decided that was too dangerous. Ultimately, I came up with the idea of a floating target. During a round of golf, you want to avoid the water and I thought it would be fun to hit balls in on purpose. We had a large surplus of old range balls and I created the eight-foot wide target out of pool noodles and angle irons. Over the years, I have perfected the target so that it is durable, lightweight and doesn’t move that much in the water after it is tied down. The target is in the large water hazard on our 9th and 18th holes. Golfers have the opportunity to buy chances hitting at the target for a share of the pot. We typically charge $5 for one try or five for $20. If multiple golfers hit the target, the pot is evenly distributed amongst the winners.

The floating target contest has become so popular with golfers during our member-guest that we now offer the contest during other tournaments and charity outings. Most of the golfers try to hit the target at least once during their round and because of that we have raised up to $4,000 during a single event. For our member-guest, all of the money that is collected is ultimately given back in prize money, but a lot of our charities have given away a nice prize, such as an iPad, to the contest winner and kept the money collected for a donation. Other events choose to award the winners with all of the cash, but a lot of times the winners donate the money back to the charity. All of the outings who have tried this contest have repeated it the next year due to its success and we have also gained tournaments due to the positive word of mouth exposure.