How to keep your golf outing promotions from sinking into a budget hazard

In the past couple of years, I’ve seen a number of business association and client golf outings get completely cancelled or scaled back, primarily due to low turnouts and budget concerns. Outings are no longer considered a mandatory event either for hosts or attendees. What I’ve also seen is a trend for organizations and sales people to take selected clients or members out for a round of golf, as opposed to a large event… a private golf outing if you will. This provides more flexibility and rewards supporters.

How to keep your golf outing promotions from sinking into a budget hazard

This is not due to some failure on the part of organizations hosting golf outings, but attributable to the difficulties being experienced by the golf industry as a whole. According to the article, Thoughts from the Golf Industry Show, Part 1, by Darius Hatami of HVS Golf Services on, the number of golfers has declined every year since 2007. In fact, the number of golfers today is the same as in 1988… 25 years ago. Likewise, the number of golf courses is also decreasing. Also reported in the article was that in the United States, just under 500 courses have closed since 2005, with 280 of them closing in the past two years. As well, attracting casual golfers into the industry is getting harder due to the cost of participation. This sport has taken a huge hit due to the continuing economic crisis.

Bottom line: You and your golf outing are not to blame! But if you are still planning to host an outing, or are planning to take clients or members to more private rounds of golf, here are some tips for keeping you from sinking your golf outing into a budget hazard with your promotional products.

  • Serving leftovers. Do not put a commemorative imprint on your promotions (i.e. XYZ Golf Outing 2013) so that you can use leftovers for future events or other giving. Use the same imprint from year to year so that your use of leftovers is not obvious.
  • Play it again. Going against my usual recommendation, I’d recommend going with a less memorable, but more usable, expendable and repeatable promotion such as golf balls and tees. These items are usually used up within a season. So if you give the same item the next year, or leftovers as discussed above, attendees will usually not balk at getting more.
  • Golf “bags.” If you are doing a very small outing or hosting only a few golfers privately, consider going with unimprinted golf gifts and buy just what you need from a golf retailer. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be packaged with your branding. Use commercially printed labels or tags (no ink jet print jobs!) with your logo on boxes, bags or gift tags. Using bags or boxes in your organization’s colours helps keep your branding without blowing your budget.

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