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The Annual Travis Lee Roberts Memorial Golf Tournament Supporting Cancer Kicks

For this Tournament Highlight article, I interviewed Jeff Hardman, the director of the Annual Memorial Golf tournament honoring his friend and colleague, Travis Lee Roberts. Hardman gives us insight into how to take the right risks when planning an event that will bring in the revenue and exposure you need to be a success. Our exchange is below.

In your opinion, what is the most important thing when it comes to tournament planning?

For us it was making sure that you start early enough, because you only have so much time until the date of the tournament, and procrastinating just does not work in this type of event. You need more time than you think you need to get everything done. Getting the word out early helps as well. We got the word out 90 days before the tournament and it gave the people that donated 90 days to make their decision about what they wanted to do. The thing that we did lack in was getting the golfers gifts, so I would recommend doing that sooner rather than later. And we learned from that. You can’t send out enough emails and talk to enough people -- you can’t get the word out enough. If you don’t that, you won’t have a tournament at all.

What was the biggest challenge of the golf tournament?

We had three inches of rain the night before! Picking a facility that can manage those types of issues – we were two hours delayed in our tee time because it was a severe weather situation. There was debris to pick up, et. So picking a facility that can handle that, who won’t cancel, is essential. I had 160 golfers out there, so there was no cancelling. Indian Hills did a great job. There are a few of us that are members there, and Travis was a member there and we grew up there, so it was a good fit.

Tell me about the non-profit your tournament supports.

Travis was my employer. I worked for him for several years, and we grew up together as well. We had a tournament committee of 5 or 6 people who came together. I play a lot of golf and know a lot of people at the club, and so I just kind of took the ball and ran with it so to speak.

We raised $82,000 for a non-profit organization called Cancer Kicks, which Travis started before he passed away. We’re in the construction business and we leaned on our vendors and suppliers to make commitments to help us with our charity, and they came through. That being said, I would say the most important thing in doing a charity type event of this nature is to get your vendors to help out.

What is the most rewarding part of the tournament?

It’s a testament to Travis’s life, working hard and putting in the time to make sure we had a successful tournament, and it was a chance to celebrate Travis’s life again almost a year after he had passed away. To bring friends and family and coworkers to celebrate his life and contribute to a new adventure with him not being there. And it kind of closed the chapter of his life and now it’s a new chapter of what we can do with his legacy after he’s gone.

What are you going to change next year?

We’re going to streamline our financing and how we take in money and collect money because we were doing it from a couple of different pots which made the accounting confusing. We want it to all go to one place this year. The second thing I would say is we are going to try to get more people to donate so we can make more revenue for the non-profit. We had a lot of people who just went to the website and just donated $20 or $25. There were ways to contribute even if you couldn’t be at the tournament, and that worked really well. And then, probably we’re going to try and not have as many volunteers this year, because we had too many volunteers and they were just standing around, so were trying to be more selective about who’s going to help us and assign actual positons.

How did Golf Digest Planner help to make your event a success?

The biggest thing that you helped was the data collection. Because a lot of people just try to say send me a check when you can. What was the biggest driver was collecting payment and driving people to the website so that the day of the tournament. It was very smooth sailing with collecting people who hadn’t paid and gathering all that data to one place and having a bunch of good systems in that bundle so we can see who paid. It’s a great system to have for the price. With the money we paid, it was a no brainer.

Any last advice?

If you’re doing a tournament, especially if you’re going for 50-60 golfers and you’re only charging 100$ you’re only making 40$ and you can’t make the tournament what it needs to be. When I first suggested charging more for registration, everyone told me, “No one’s going to pay that, you’re insane.” And I just said, “Watch.” We got 160 golfers.

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