GOLF MARATHONS

A Unique Form of Fundraising 

Are you looking for a slimmed down version of a standard fundraising golf tournament, but don't want to sacrifice the amount of funds you can raise?  

 

Golf marathons (or golf-a-thons) have been around for almost 150 years and are similar to other athletic competitions but with one added element: GOLF!  These events are an alternative format to golf tournament fundraisers with several fundamental distinctions:

 

  1. They rely on dedicated golfers to raise money on an individual basis to support the event.  This peer-to-peer pledge model requires golfers to obtain sponsorships from within their own community.
     

  2. Contributions are made in the form of a flat fee donation or per hole pledge.
     

  3. Golfers compete to complete as many holes as possible during the marathon day to raise money.  

Golf marathons not only help to reduce the costs that are normally associated with running a golf tournament, but it also improves fundraising capabilities.  Consider this: marathon events (marathons, jog-a-thons and walk-a-thons) typically experience profound success due to the simple fact that people give because they support from within their own personal network of connections (family, friends, neighbors and colleagues).  This principle of relationship-based giving is the most important fundamental in fundraising which is simply that people are inclined to give to people they know.  A golf marathon essentially converts each of your golf participants into part-time fundraisers for your organization.  

 

Let’s Swing Back In Time…

Did you know that golf marathons date all the way back to the late 1800's?  It's true!  The year was 1874 and the place was Scotland.  W. G. Bloxom bet that he could play 12 rounds, 180 holes on a short 15-hole, 2.3-mile course, and then walk ten more miles (about 38 miles total) all in the span of 24-hours.  He won the wager.

 

The first American golfer to par up to marathon golfing was George McGrew.  In 1900 at the age 54, McGrew played 72 holes at the fairgrounds in St. Louis, Missouri walking 14 miles in no less than 10-hours.  Six years later on June 2, 1906, J. S. Judd and E. O. Smith of Springfield, Massachusetts, got into the sport playing 6 rounds, 108 holes for an estimated walking distance of 27 miles.  They are the first historically known Americans to have golfed an "ultra-distance".  

The current world record holder for marathon golfing belongs to former MLB player Eric Byrnes.  On April 22, 2019 (at the age of 43), Byrnes managed to play a whopping 420 holes in 24-hours.  This feat was accomplished across 6,000 yards at the Half Moon Bay Golf Links in California.  His strategy was simple: make a lot of short, straight shots while running (visualize polo without a horse).  He took a total of 3,538 strokes, covered approximately 106 miles, and used just one club: a women’s 8 iron which he carried as he ran.  A caddie friend ran with him and provided aid from carts that followed along the way.

 

So, what's next for marathon golfing?  Let us show you!

Moving “Fore”ward: The Benefits to Planning a Golf Marathon

Golf marathons have an enormous WOW factor.  Not only are they a unique format, they are also an incredible opportunity for your audience of golfers whom: (A) are passionate about the sport, (B) have a desire to compete, and (C) are motivated to support your organization.  Operationally, got marathons have minimal planning requirements and need just a handful of people to execute.  Allow us to demonstrate:

Why Choose A Golf-A-Thon Over A Golf Tournament?

If your golf event has been affected by recent economic and social circumstances and you are at a planning crossroads, a golf marathon might be the best solution.  However, when presenting to your board or committee members you may receive the following feedback: 

  • "We don't want to downsize our golf event."

  • "The best part about our tournament is the post-golf reception!"

  • "We should be safe scheduling a golf tournament by                 ."

  • "It's our anniversary year and we need to go big!"

Consider this:

  • Many of your supporters might not be comfortable traveling or gathering by then (or possibly any time this year).

  • Social circumstances are still unpredictable and there is no guarantee that the current state of events won't be a single occurrence.

  • Expect a potential "overload" of golf tournaments to occur later this year with many golfers asked to participate in and/or support more than 1 tournament per month, possibly even more than 1 per week.

  • Your supporters will understand if the big anniversary event needs to be postponed to next year or soonest safer time.

Comparing Dollars and Sense

Now that you know a little more about planning a golf marathon, it’s time to dive into the financial benefits of hosting this unique fundraising format.

 

You may be asking yourself “How can I possibly raise more money with less golfers?”  “What do I need to charge?”  “Can fundraising dollars match our regular golf tournament profits?”

 

First let us consider some weighted facts:

 

  • Golfers are often not charged to participate in the marathon providing they meet the minimum fundraising standards.  That’s right – this can mean FREE GOLF for your participants.  That impressive incentive alone should motivate your golfers to secure lots of individual sponsors.

 

  • Less golfers means less spending.  Consider this: golf courses charge per golf participant.  The lower your golfer count, the lower your green fees.  This will also help reduce food and beverage costs (although minimums may still apply), eliminate the need for extravagant gifts, and other cost savings. 

 

  • While the primary objective is for golfers to secure sponsors, that doesn’t mean that other powerful fundraising streams need to be eliminated.   You can still incorporate event sponsors and underwriters to support the entire event.  In fact, we have many unique and innovative incentives for marathon event sponsors including new ROI concepts.  Let’s not forget your auction activities which can still be conducted virtually.  Click here to learn more.

 

Now that we have your attention, allow us to paint your financial outlook.  The difference may surprise you!

Sample Golf Tournament Financial Outlook

  • # of Golfers = 144

  • Projected Revenue = $136,000
    (Includes Auction & Other Fundraising Activities)

  • Projected Expenses = $73,000
    (more than 50% of revenue)

 

Estimated Net Tournament Profit = $63,000

Sample Golf Marathon Financial Outlook

  • # of Golfers = 36

  • Projected Revenue = $163,500
    (Additional Fundraising Not Required)

  • Projected Expenses = $62,500
    (less than 40% of revenue)

 

Estimated Net Marathon Profit = $101,000

Frequently Asked Questions

Would I need to offer any sort of dinner & awards reception or post-golf gathering for my golfer participants?

You should certainly offer a post-marathon reception to celebrate the success and hard work of your golfer participants, however the costs and participant involvement should be minimal.  In order to maintain social distancing (for now) we suggest confining your reception to strictly golfer participants.  This will also help minimize your food and beverage costs and eliminates the need for an awards ceremony as placement accolades are not required.  

 

Can a golf marathon be completed in one just one day or over a couple of days?  What is the best timeline format? 

You can hold a marathon over any time period, whether it be one or multiple days.  However, if you want to maximize profits and sponsor support, then hosting it as a 1-day event is preferred. 

 

What are the standard costs associated with a golf marathon?

Golf marathons require less than half of the amount of expenses that it would normally take to run a golf tournament.  Costs are minimal and can include: golf course buyout fees for the day, golf course/clubhouse food & beverage minimums, event website (includes sponsor and golfer registration, marketing, social media integrations, and day-of event promotions), fees for processing credit card payments, photography, event production fees (hiring a team of specialists to run all event logistics including pre-event, day-of, and post analysis), any sponsor benefits such as signage and other branding elements (costs aren’t incurred until sponsorships are purchased).

 

What are some typical cost savings I can expect to see from hosting a golf marathon? 

There are numerous expenses that can be reduced and even eliminated altogether including: lower green fees, lower food & beverage costs, fewer spending on golfer gifts, minimal registration staffing & logistical requirements, no cost for auction setup, and no need to purchase awards as these are not required for this event format.

 

What about my auction?  How would replacing my regular golf tournament with a golf marathon potentially impact my other fundraising activities?

There is no need to cancel your plans for an auction – adjust your format instead.  Online auctions are becoming increasingly popular due to the new social standards and hosting your auction via the web offers numerous added benefits.  It provides the opportunity to expand your reach to people who may not have participated if they were unable to physically attend the auction.  You may also host the auction as a completely separate event or tie it into your marathon by hosting the auction live while the marathon is underway.  If you would like to elect to include your online auction as part of your event, then we would recommend starting at least 2-weeks before the marathon day and do live updates during the marathon with winners announced at the end of the day.  We can even live stream your winner announcements!  

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