It is never a surprise to me when a corporate or charity golf tournament has a great turnout. I know I always jump at the chance to spend quality time out on the links instead of firmly ensconced behind my desk.
People hear the word ‘tournament’ and automatically think cut-throat competition, but that certainly isn’t the case with outings like Commerce Chenango’s Summer Golf Event, which was held on June 19 at the Bluestone Golf Course in Oxford. Sure, you always have a few serious golfers in the mix, but thanks to “best ball” formats like Captain and Crew (and don’t forget about those mulligans) you don’t actually have to be any good to enjoy the festivities. They take the focus off the final score, and let everyone concentrate on why they are really there: to play hooky from work for a good cause and a bit of networking.
Of course, it isn’t all fun and games for everyone. Putting together one of these events is a lot of work for both the golf course and the tournament organizers. I witnessed just how much work it all is when I tagged along with Bluestone’s Jason Bradley and his sister Cara during the Chamber tournament.
If I thought I’d have a chance to get some golf in myself while I was there (my clubs were, of course, in the car), I was sadly mistaken. Even though I arrived after the carts had been set up with goody bags and towels, score cards and rules had been distributed, and lunch was already on the grill, there was still plenty to do. Drat.
It didn’t take me long to realize that the Bluestone staff has this tournament thing down to a science. According to Jason, whose father Will has owned the course since 1989, they host roughly 30 tournaments each year. Those include benefits, fun corporate events, bar and restaurant tournaments, reunions and other outside groups, as well as more competitive member tournaments.
Not only do all those tournaments contribute nicely to the course’s bottom line, but, because they often attract golfers who have never played Bluestone before, the events also provide good exposure for the course and help drive traffic at other times as well.
Preparations for a tournament begin months in advance, with some groups booking their date up to a year in advance. For the organizers, there are sponsorships to find and teams to sign up, as well as innumerable other tasks which go into making one of these events a success. As it turns out, many of the people who put tournaments together aren’t golfers themselves, Jason told me. That’s where his expertise and that of the rest of Bluestone’s staff comes in.
The night before was a late one, as everyone worked to get things set up for the Chamber event. And when tournament day dawned on Friday (gray-skied and blustery), they were back at 6:30 a.m. to put on the finishing touches. They had most of it wrapped up when I got there a couple of hours before the projected 11 a.m. shotgun start.
After a quick briefing, Jason gave me my first assignment: directing people to the putting contest. While I did, in fact, point people in the direction of the putting green, I also ended up directing them to check-in, their golf cart, lunch and anywhere else they needed to go. (Luckily, as a fairly frequent golfer at Bluestone, I was able to provide flawless directions to both the bathrooms and the bar.)
I was also on hand to answer important questions for the volunteers attached to the tournament, who I think now understand the concept of both skins and mulligans, as well as the importance of having the spotter on the hole with the $10,000 hole-in-one contest before the team actually tees off. Well, one can only hope...