• Is 2020 The Year of the Virtual Golf Tournament?

    Kent Ashby  •  April 22, 2020

Golf tournaments are a great way to bring people together, have a great time, and enjoy the sport we all love. For golf courses, tournaments are oftentimes a large part of the revenue model. So, when the golf industry (and the rest of the world) was struck with the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, many operators were forced to cancel or reschedule events for a later date, potentially losing out of thousands of dollars in revenue.

That said, COVID-19 has forced everyone to make drastic alterations to their day-to-day lives. Part of the “new normal” is being prepared to coordinate with the limitations caused by the pandemic, in an effort to be safe, while still living our lives. While part of the fun of a traditional golf tournament is the comradery and quality time spent with others, the fact is, we are more willing than ever to make sacrifices in order to enjoy the sport in a competitive format. One viable option that has been around for years, but never fully glorified, is the idea of virtual golf tournaments.

What is a Virtual Golf Tournament?

A virtual golf tournament is just like a traditional tournament, but golfers can play their round at any time within the date range allotted. The score is usually kept by the golfer and submitted, either digitally or physically on a scorecard, to the shop before a set deadline.

Scoring and placement can be done in a variety of fashions. Obviously, you could go the traditional route, or you could choose something less conventional, like average score over multiple rounds, etc.

Benefits of Virtual Golf Tournaments

There are some real advantages to virtual golf tournaments. During the COVID-19 pandemic, one obvious benefit is that there is no need for golfers to be at the course at the same time. They can participate in the tournament whenever they’d like, as long as their score is submitted prior to the ending date of the event. For social distancing purposes, this allows participants to be spread out over a longer period of time (say, a week or two), allowing golfers to be safe while competing.

Another benefit is added convenience. Golfers have the freedom to choose the time and day that they participate, which isn’t the case for a traditional event. This opens the doors for those that typically would not be able to participate, such as people that work weekends or other types of limiting schedules. A virtual tournament is far more flexible, which could help give the number of participants a boost.

Not a Direct Replacement

Let’s be clear. We are not saying virtual golf tournaments are a replacement for the real deal. Traditional golf tournaments have a lot of benefits too, like charging a premium to participate and additional F&B sales. Traditional golf tournaments, by themselves, can be big money-makers, while virtual golf tournaments are typically free to participate in. Virtual golf tournaments act as more of a tool to encourage customers to play more rounds.

For this reason alone, traditional golf tournaments will always have their place, but in unprecedented times like we’re facing now, virtual golf tournaments can help fill a void.

How Technology Can Help

Virtual golf tournaments can be run with pen and paper, with participants just dropping off their scorecard at the pro shop after they’ve completed a round, leaving the staff responsible for managing the scoring system. However, technology can really help make running a virtual golf tournament a cinch.

Technology providers, like Gallus Golf, can provide software that helps both the golfer and the golf course staff keep score more efficiently. Technology like this can provide things like live leaderboards for participants to follow and the ability to register for the tournament, all on their smartphone. Gallus also offers the ability to offer more complex scorekeeping, such as taking the lowest score from each hole across multiple rounds. This gives a big incentive for golfers to come back out and play another round, in an effort to lower their score even further.

CampaignPilot is another tool that can help with the promotion of the virtual event across all channels, including your website, Facebook, Google, Email, and your Mobile App. You could also use the CampaignPilot landing page to list details of the event and offer an easy way for golfers to register or book a tee time, all in one spot.

Are Virtual Golf Tournaments for You?

Maybe. Maybe not. Nonetheless, now is a good time to try it out, if your course is legally able to. What do you have to lose? As local governments make alterations to their rules and regulations that allow golf facilities to begin to operate on a limited basis, virtual golf tournaments might be a worthwhile experiment.

This article was intended to pique interest and get the brain juices flowing. Now is the perfect time to step outside your comfort zone and try something new, virtual tournament or otherwise.

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