Reasons Why We Need to Develop Our Tournament Operations Skills

by Brian Dobak
March 8, 2010

Now a sales rep for FootJoy, Gary Vanover reminisces his assistant professional days in the 1970's when he worked for Bob Ross at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey.  "In those days we handwrote cart signs and scorecards, there was no tournament software, and calligraphy was important then".

That was then and this is now.  Although calligraphy is still "in" and probably always will be, we now have digital scoreboard printers. We also have highly efficient and effective tournament software such as Event-Man to build the framework of our events.  Now more than ever, especially in this economy, we have something that’s very valuable and its right under our noses.

At its core, a tournament is a service to the participants. However as club level events evolve, tournament operations has become the golf businesses version of project management. They include pre-tournament planning, milestones and goals, deadlines, assignments, checklists, meetings, and evaluations. Tournament operations can be one of the best avenues to express your service levels to your members. In your golf operation, your number one priority should be serving your clientele, no matter who they are. Let your tournaments speak for your service levels.

There is arguably no better opportunity that displays more of your clubs life, character, and service levels than tournament operations. On display is your ability to delegate tasks and maneuver staff. On stage is your ability to manage people, both their perceptions of the event and the physical flow of the participants. Your organization skills are in the spotlight. Your attention to detail and presentation skills are on display including the quality of the rules sheets, scorecards, and cart signs, to the quality of your scoreboards, calligraphy, tee gifts, prizes, and trophy presentation. In the spotlight is your creativity in the format and special events that you arrange. The success of the tournament will generate a feeling within its participants that will turn the wheels of the merchandising operation, sparking sales and heavy interaction within the confines of the golf shop. Last but not least, tournaments are an avenue for the excellence of your food and beverage operation to show their stuff and generate revenue on their end.

We all know that HP’s looking for assistant professionals heavily emphasize tournament operations experience. Our members and guests emphasize it to, although they may not express it directly. They want to play in well-run, high level events in which attention is paid to every detail. And when you’re in front of the golf committee interviewing for a Head Professional position, they all want to know that you can meet their needs for their tournament schedule.

Also, at some point in your career even as an assistant professional, you will probably have a hand in generating tournament business. Whether it’s recruiting a section event, a junior tour event, a developmental tour event, local and regional corporate tournament business, or establishing goodwill with local non-profit associations, tournaments touch every aspect of a club operation.  They drive business and learning how to run them at a high level will aid in driving your career as a golf professional.

There is no question that a tournament brings everything together. There is also no question that your tournament operations skills are a hot commodity in the golf profession. There is nothing like a high-class event that goes off without a hitch in the eyes of the participants. When it is broken down like in the third and fourth paragraphs, it’s easy to see all of the gears and what they turn throughout a clubs operation – everything!

Develop your tournament operations skills and it will pay dividends. Ask your HP for more tournament operations duties or to run an event from A to Z. Volunteer for USGA, PGA, LPGA, or Senior Tour events that happen to be in your region. If it you deem it to be a good fit, attain your next assistant position at an operation where you’ll be heavily involved with tournament operations. Your career and your learning curve are in your hands and your hands only, nobody else’s.