The Strauss Blog

Hosting Association Golf Tournaments in a COVID-19 World

Association members are missing their face-to-face networking opportunities used to catch up with fellow members or to have those deep conversations with fellow members on issues affecting their industry. When the pandemic hit its peak earlier this year, associations had no choice but to cancel association in-person member events and gatherings. Now that provinces are beginning to relax their restrictions, associations in some provinces can implement networking opportunities for their members. These opportunities also have the potential to generate some lost revenue due to event cancellations. A golf tournament is a great opportunity to get members together and to provide members with return on investment for belonging to your association.

As each province adapts to legislation pertaining to re-opening, the golf model changes. However, there are ways to host a tournament that will still provide an excellent day for association members. Below are a few reasons to host a golf tournament and other recommendations to keep your golf tournament compliant with the ever-evolving policies and guidelines.

Reasons to Host an Association Golf Tournament

On top of a golf tournament bringing positivity to your association it can also provide the following benefits:

  • Revenue – Sponsorship opportunities such as tee gifts, cart sponsors, hole sponsors, and meal sponsors are still great ways to drive much needed revenue. Registration fees help cover golf tournament costs and provide the association additional revenue.
  • Networking Opportunities – Aside from being a lot of fun, the golf tournament gives association members a chance to network with other members. Engaging members during the pandemic is very important, ready my colleague’s article to learn more.
  • Association Members’ Return on Investment – The golf tournament is a great way to get association members back together again, even if it is only for the day. An association can use the golf tournament as an additional avenue to get important information out to the membership. Person to person contact can also lead to member retention and recruitment of new members.

How to Adapt Your Association Golf Tournaments to Comply with Legislation

Associations need to be quick on their feet and flexible in any new situation, especially with outdoor events like golf tournaments. Work closely with the golf course to ensure the tournament is following all protocol in place. Here are a few ways to keep your golf tournament compliant with the on-going policy and guideline changes;

  • No Cart Sharing – Limit cart use to each group only.
  • Only One Group Per Hole – Golf courses are big, luckily. While one group is playing a hole, another group can wait at a distance while still keeping two metres apart.
  • No Banquet – It is not ideal as the wrap-up banquet give association members a chance to catch up. We will get back to full banquets again someday. For now, leave the suit and tie at home, and opt for a delicious bagged lunch and delectable snacks. The three F’s for the day, Fun, Food and Fluids still apply, learn more in my colleague’s article!
  • Educate Golfers On COVID-19 Etiquette – Most etiquette recommendations are basically what we’re already used to: wash your hands often, stand at least two metres apart, etc. To help remind association members throughout the day, place etiquette reminder decals and signs around the course.
  • Health Pre-Screening for Golfers – Assign a volunteer to assist golfers with temperature checks and health questionnaires as part of the sign-in process. Consider providing hand sanitizers, masks, and gloves to association members as they arrive.
  • No Sponsors at Holes– This recommendation can change as restrictions ease up. Pay close attention to your government’s announcements and keep your association members in the loop. Sponsor signage is still an option and is highly encouraged.
  • Use Technology to Your Advantage – Create a designated golf tournament program page on your website, or simply, email association members what they need for the day.

Possible Post-COVID-19 Golf Tournament Execution

The golf tournament execution also changes as the policies and guidelines change. The following are possible best practices for the day of the event:

  1. Arrive at the golf course
  2. Head straight to your assigned cart
  3. Lunch and tee gift already in the golf cart
  4. Meet your team at the hole
  5. Tee off at the sound of the siren (provided it is a shotgun start)

Golf Tournament Critical Path

This golf tournament critical path looks like a pre-COVID-19 event. And can be as simple as the example provided below.

Three to Twelve Months Out

  • Book golf course
  • Add to association calendar
  • Share with association members
  • Begin sponsorship sales

Three to Six Months Out

  • Sponsorship sales
  • Registration sales

One Month Out

  • Make teams
  • Assign holes
  • Arrange menu
  • Arrange tee gifts

One Week Out

  • Ensure health screening tools are in place
  • Communicate with golf course on all logistics
  • Send out last-minute details to golfers

Day Prior

  • Resend health screening questionnaire to all attendees (golfers and sponsors)

Day Of

  • Ensure the association and golf course are following all policies and guidelines
  • Sponsor relations
  • Golfer relations

Going Forward

Golf tournaments can occur in many Canadian provinces now that restrictions are being eased. You can find this information for each province by visiting their golf association’s website:

It is important to stay on top of changes and adapt the plan to meet the specifications and policies of the golf course. Strauss can help their clients to host a tournament that meets their objectives whether that entails creating additional revenue for the association or engaging members.