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Tournament Highlights Article: The 11th Annual Don Shelton Memorial Golf Tournament

Ed Linberg has been a loyal customer of Golf Digest Planner and Tournament Shop since 2013, and is nothing less than a joy to work with. He is the chairperson for the Annual Don Shelton Memorial Golf Classic, a tournament that is in its 11th year. The classic was managed by its namesake, Minister Don Shelton, before he passed away in 2011. Since then, Ed has taken the lead as the expert golfer and tournament planner for this important fundraising event.

Ed has faced some unique challenges in keeping a decade long tournament running, and has come up with some equally unique solutions. The first challenge he faced was keeping new sponsors and registrants coming in. Ed says, “Getting the word out, getting the publicity out, and reaching new people is our biggest challenge.” He helped to solve this problem by making special pricing for first year registrants.

“We charge $100 for new players and $185 for everyone else. We also allow youth to register for $100, so we have a couple of sons coming to play with their Dads,” explains Ed. This strategy has increased the amount of new players registering in the tournament.

In addition, Ed began using the Golf Digest Planner website in 2013 to serve as an online advertisement and easy way to register, and uses our tournament shop for fun, exciting contest prizes.

“The thing we have appreciated about having the Golf Digest Planner and Tournament Shop connection is that there is a website that we can point people to, but also there are better quality prizes for the contests. As organizers, we really like the prizes. For the money involved, it is a really good deal for us. Our players really like the tickets for the sporting events and the cruises, too. A member of my church won the longest drive and he’s very excited about those tickets. He said, “Oh that’s a great prize!”

Prize drawings are another thing Ed has put his unique spin on. Instead of just having the prizes available for golfers at the tournament, Ed bought two guaranteed prizes to serve as a raffle that he sold tickets for after church service in the weeks leading up to the tournament. This allowed non-golfers to get involved, support the cause, and have a chance to win something exciting.

“The lady that won the Carnival Cruise from Golf Digest Tournament Shop for the raffle was very excited when she got the phone call from me!” recalls Ed. “She’s just a member of our congregation who bought tickets; she didn’t have anything to do with the tournament .”

Committee members also put out brochures to all of the churches in his district, and use their personal connections to draw new people in. Spreading the word to fellow church goers tends to heed great results, but Ed says they have been less lucky with finding corporate sponsors.

“We have about 120 churches in southern California. You use your church network to get sponsorships. And personal friendships as well. We have tried to find businesses that are connected to the churches to sponsor as well, but we haven’t had any luck with that. People with personal connections are still trying to make that work.”

A last challenge conquered by Ed was finding the right course.

“We started out playing country clubs on their Mondays off. And we decided after about 6 or 7 years that the country club wasn’t that big of a draw, and we were paying 120-140$ a golfer. We were able to move to St. Eagles Canyon, and it has worked out much better for us. It’s a great course, and we pay 75$ a golfer for everything! It hasn’t hurt us, we still charge the same as when we played at the Country Club. So you need to find a course that you think will be appreciated by the participants and a course with whom you can establish a good working relationship. That’s really crucial.”

Ed says the hard work is worth it when he gets to help out a great cause.

“The thing I appreciate the most is the chance to raise some money for the six ministries. They get some great funding, and don’t have to do much work. Each year we make about $20,000 from the tournament. As Don Shelton said, there is no way we could raise 18-25,000 in one day doing anything but a golf tournament.”

It is clear that Ed has done a great job finding practical ways to make his tournament better year after year. We hope you can use some of his strategies to increase registration, include new people, and find the atmosphere for your tournament!

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