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Most of our golf tournaments at Golf Digest Planner are raising funds for an incredible cause. The Salute Military Golf Association Charity Golf Tournament is no exception. The SMGA Annual Charity Golf tournament raises funds for SMGA, a program that provides mental and physical rehabilitation for post 9/11 veterans. Through the wonderful sport of golf, these soldiers are rediscovering life with their disability: not only improving their balance, re-establishing their motor skills, and building strength; but also facing their disabilities head on, conquering the depression and disappointment of losing a limb, and rediscovering their inner fighter with a great and challenging sport.

Wounded Warriors

Through the SMGA Charity Golf Tournaments, the team has raised over $600,000 dollars over the past 8 years. President and co-founder of SMGA James Winslow says that the key to their success is ensuring a great tournament day experience. “You want it to be a full day.” He explains. “You want to have a unique activity going on at every point of the day; you want them to stay the entire time.” A great way to do this, he continues, is by giving special attention to your sponsors. “Give your sponsors a VIP tournament day experience. Give them something unique that they can’t find anywhere else, and try to link the experience back to the organization.”

When it comes to linking the sponsor experience back to the organization, the SMGA tournament goes above and beyond. With SMGA , any sponsor over $5,000 gets to play the tournament alongside a wounded warrior, allowing the sponsors to spend the day getting to know the brave men who are directly benefitting from their donations. This, Winslow explains, is what keeps people coming back year after year. “The most rewarding part for me [as the president] is being able to develop personal relationships with the guys.”

The SMGA tournament has been using Golf Digest Planner ever since they started accepting online registrations, and they have made their event a roaring success by filling the day with fun contests and activities. Hole in One Contests, Longest Drive and Beat the Pro contests, and a silent auction are just some of the activities the SMGA uses to keep their players engaged and excited. And with six hole in one winners, there is no doubt that this tournament is onto something incredible. “We’ve given away three cars!” Winslow exclaims.

Tips and Tricks

Other tips and tricks that Winslow uses to keep his players coming back are having a complimentary lunch on the course, providing drink carts for drinks and snacks, and keeping the game pace fast and fun.

“We don’t nickel and dime people on the course,” says Winslow, who advises keeping mulligans and extra shot purchases to a minimum to avoid holding up the game. All of these details make for a great and memorable tournament day.

SMGA wraps up their event with an inspiring closing ceremony and dinner, honoring the ceremony with notable keynote speakers such as wounded warriors themselves, congressmen and women, and military generals. Last year, the tournament got to showcase the work of Showtime’s “Comedy Warriors”, a documentary where wounded warriors worked with famous comedians like Bob Saget to produce comedy shows. This year, one of their players, Tim Lang, is being featured on ATT’s Fan’s Eye View for the Pebble Beach Golf Tournament.

The SMGA tournament is an inspiring example of what your tournament can be.

The determination and goodwill of the organizers, sponsors, and players makes this event a victory every year, and Golf Digest Planner and Tournament shop is proud to play a part. You can check out the SMGA’s organization at or visit their tournament website at

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