How 100 Hole Golf Marathons Can Change Fundraising

Posted by Don Carmichael on 4/10/17 5:30 AM

Your organization has to raise $30,000 to $100,000.  You don’t want to sell candy bars and you don’t want to waste your volunteers’ time on uninteresting and low-yield fundraisers.  So what are your options?  How can you raise BIG money and also to do something FUN, INTERESTING – and maybe even something a little CRAZY with a huge WOW factor?

The answer is simple. Host a 100-hole golf marathon. 

Almost 30 years ago, I helped co-pioneer the 100-hole golf marathon concept and have helped conduct over 1,500 golf marathons during this time.  These events have raised well over $50,000,000 for a variety of Christian schools, ministries and charities throughout the U.S. and Canada and have helped energize and mobilize tens of thousands of volunteers and donors.

golf marathon

How Golf Marathons Work

The planning process for a golf marathon takes about three months.  Your goal is to recruit 40 fundraising golfers who will raise money through personal sponsors (friends and family) prior to the day of the big event.  Golfers come from your existing donor and support bases and include these men and women plus their friends.  In terms of fundraising and cash flow, you should have 80% of your total funds raised already deposited in your bank by the event day.

On the golf marathon day, golfers arrive before dawn for a special breakfast, rules and announcements.  Golfers typically tee off at sunrise and play until sunset with a goal of playing 100 holes of golf per golfer (or as many or few holes they want to play).  Golfers start simultaneously on different holes throughout the course so everyone can start at the same time.  At the end of the event, you would conclude with an Awards Dinner or Awards Dessert where you hand out awards and celebrate the day.  Often times the final shot of the event is one golfer shooting for a $1 Million Hole In One prize (a prize insurance policy that costs about $300).


How Golf Marathon Golfers Play 100 Holes

The real WOW factor in a golf marathon comes from the idea that someone can actually play 100 holes of golf in a single day.  For most golfers, this opportunity is an extraordinary draw!  Over the years, we’ve seen hundreds of golfers raise money for an organization they never heard of just so they could experience the marathon event and achieve the bragging rights of “playing 100 holes.”

The physical challenge in golf marathons is very moderate and much lower than most people expect.  Each golfer has a golf cart which eliminates most of the walking.  There are specific golf marathon rules that facilitate fast play – including no honors (hitting your ball as soon as you reach it), counting putts within the leather (picking up your ball on the green if you putt it within about 18” of the hole), jumping to another hole instead of playing through slow golfers, etc. 

A comfortable pace of golf is playing nine holes every hour; the key is keeping everyone moving and making sure golfers stay well-hydrated.


Who Participates in Golf Marathons

Most of your golf marathon participants will have some direct connection to your organization – typically donors, school parents, board members, staff and friends of your organization.  In order to get to 40 fundraising golfers, your goal is to recruit ten team captains who each recruit three others, all of whom are personally fundraising, to achieve ten foursomes.

Over the years we’ve seen marathon golfers from every walk of life.  Marathon golfers have ranged from taxi drivers and custodians to PGA Tour players, professional athletes, Hollywood celebrities, United States Senators and ambassadors.  Across this spectrum the most common response heard from marathon golfers is, “This is the most fun I’VE EVER HAD on a golf course in my life.”

golf marathons raise money


How Golf Marathons Raise Money

Golf marathons are not entry-fee events but fundraising events. 

In almost every charity golf tournament in the country, the typical revenue model involves golfer entry fees plus corporate sponsors.  The most common entry fee in golf tournaments is $100 per golfer. 

An entry fee event sounds great until you do the math.  By the time you back out that golfer’s green fee expense ($50 - $65), food ($15 - $30) and gifts ($15 - $30), your actual net profit on the $100 entry fee is often just $20 or less. 

In other words, you’re typically spending up to 80% of the entry fee on expenses, and even if you have 100 golfers in your traditional-model charity golf tournament, at $20 profit per golfer, you’ve only made $2,000.  This is a horrible use of time and money.  This inefficient fundraising model is also the reason that the average charity golf tournament in America ends up netting less than $5,000.

The golf marathon revenue model is fundamentally different. 

Instead of writing an entry fee check (that leaves $20 in profit), most golf marathon golfers are seeking to raise a fundraising goal of $2,500 per golfer.  The average marathon golfer raises approximately $1,750 – which after expenses leaves over $1,650 in profit to your organization.  In other words, one fundraising marathon golfer (at $1,650 profit) produces the same bottom-line profit as approximately 80 entry fee golfers (at $20 profit each).  And just like entry fee events, you can add corporate sponsors to golf marathon events.



If your school or nonprofit organization is looking for a major fundraising event that can not only raise significant money but also is fun and out-of-the-box, consider conducting a 100-Hole Golf Marathon. 

Golf Marathon events easy to organize, only take about three months to plan and create a draw that usually brings many new people and donors into a financial relationship with your organization.  Because virtually nobody LIKES to fundraise, creating a FUN event with high WOW factor is a great way to involve people in the fundraising process to ultimately drive significant funding to your mission.

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Are you thinking of hosting your own golf marathon or looking for a new and exciting way for your organization to raise funds? Contact us for a free initial consultation.

Topics: events, development, golf