Sponsors and Partnerships to Differentiate Yourself

steve-fesslerSteve Fessler, President of the Minnesota PGA Section and the Section’s 2013 Horton Smith Award winner and 2004 Junior Golf Leader, is PGA Head Professional and at Riverwood National Golf Course in Otsego, Minnesota.

We have 10 golf courses nearby, so there’s a constant push and pull to get people’s eyeballs and money for various outings and charitable events during the year. I’ve been running events here, usually 10-15 per season, for the last eight years. It was clear after the first year that our events needed a “Wow” factor to stand out. It was especially imperative for our breast cancer event, as breast cancer is a common cause for golf fundraisers in our area. We found that the key is to focus on ways to localize the event, to make it more relatable to the community and instantly add value as to why local companies and organizations should participate and sponsor.

Starting with Year Two, we’ve found the “Wow” factor via many avenues. We’ve done 50-foot putting contests where we yank one or two people out of the crowd and give them $5,000 if they drain it. For our Special Olympics events we make sure to invite those athletes to participate, to put a face and a voice to the people we are raising money for. And for our breast cancer fundraiser we partnered with my fellow PGA Professional Andrew Workman and his hole-in-one insurance company to work out a deal where instead of his company paying the entire value of an ace, in our case $10,000, $5,000 goes to the person who makes the hole-in-one while $5,000 goes to the charity. (He also gave us the idea to put donated gift certificates together and offer them up as one, which instantly ups value.) It’s little things like these that have increased participation by 25-35 percent over the last seven years, doubled donations, helped us add 20 new members, expose the facility to those who previously didn’t know it existed and helped form long-term facility/community relationships. So don’t just hire an underwriter to underwrite or pinpoint the Special Olympics as your beneficiary. Get them involved, make them a part of the event, and watch your participation grow.

If you would like to email the author of this Best Practice directly, please email fess18@pga.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.