6 Ways to Cover Your Bases When Running A Tournament

by Brian Dobak
September 13, 2010

Tournaments, especially the big ones, are an interesting animal. So much organization and communication comes into play and you MUST have both of them to have a successful tournament. There can be mistakes and the members/guests are not effected or they may not see it. But it's the mistakes where they are directly effected and that they do see that must be avoided. If you don't have both organization and communication, something is bound to go wrong that the members/guests will be directly effected by. They aren't revolutionary, but take these six ways to cover your bases when running a tournament as a refresher:

Tournament Binder

Create a tournament binder for your major events as well as your middy and even your smaller events. A binder is just as useful, if not more useful for corporate outings considering the cluster they can often be on tournament day. Staff must know where to go when seeking information and they must be able to find the information in a timely manner. Keep the binder organized. Don’t put tournament documents and information in a pile on the desk in the assistant’s office. Doing so is a disaster waiting to happen. On tournament day and the weeks leading to the event, your tournament binder is your best friend.


Just because they are not an actual physical component on tournament day, the days and weeks leading to the event are no less important. We often tend to disregard one of the most important components of a tournament – staff communication. You may be the one directing the tournament and know all of the minute details of the event, but that doesn’t mean everyone else doesn’t have to know. If you’re running the member-guest, think of every possible question that a member or guest might ask. About a month (or longer) before the event, hold a meeting with key staff members or even post a very detailed informational sheet at the front counter for your fellow staffers to refer to when asked questions. Because rest assured, the members and guests will be calling and asking questions, and our ability to answer questions seamlessly and in a timely manner is paramount.


It’s funny how the word “pro” begins the word procrastination. Why you ask? Because believe it or not, there are too many pro’s that procrastinate when preparing for tournaments. DO NOT wait until the last minute to execute tasks, even the small tasks like printing cart signs, scorecards, pairings sheets, and rules sheets. Will there be last minute changes? Always! But that doesn’t mean you wait until the morning to distribute everything. Your outside staff needs information as soon as possible and getting it to them the night before will greatly aid them in preparing for the event the next morning.

Food & Beverage

Food & Beverage always plays a significant role throughout the course of a tournament. Whether its on-course service, golf shop service, or service in the clubs dining facility, it is vital that you stay in consistent contact with your F & B Director. Changes on both sides must be relayed to one another as soon as possible so that by tournament day, the both of you are on the same page. Also, as an assistant professional, having experience working directly with a F& B Director will pay major dividends for you when applying for HP positions. It shows that you have experience working with club staff of various levels and that you can manage such relationships appropriately.

Golf Course Set-Up

Dot your “I’s” and cross your “T’s” when it comes to course marking, pin locations, maintenance, and local rules. Doing so will eliminate many questions competitors are going to have throughout the course of a round. And to reiterate what was written earlier, maintain communication and cultivate a positive relationship with your superintendent. This will pay dividends for you when applying for HP positions. Besides your relationship with the General Manager, arguably the next most important relationship in an operation is the relationship between the HP and the Superintendent.

Staff Assignments & Checklists

Staff assignments and checklists come into play for the larger events and there may not be a component more important than this when preparing for and running a large tournament. The Tournament Director can’t do everything. Everyone must know and embrace their role and clear expectations must be set for each person’s responsibility. Once this is done, it is vital to follow up with everyone to make sure they are on pace for deadlines.

Running a tournament is not global thermonuclear science. However don’t discount how vital the operation is from a logistical standpoint. When you’re an assistant or an HP and the train gets off the tracks because of mistakes on your end, the effects of this can potentially be disastrous for your reputation at your club. Have your bases covered and do what you have to do to stay organized, stay informed, and keep everyone around you in the loop. The less questions members have to ask, the better. The more questions your staff has the ability to answer, the better.