U.S. Army Veteran Colter Kautzmann Carves His Own Path Amid Traditions of Family, Service & Golf
 
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It’s certainly not uncommon for children to follow in the footsteps of their parents—especially in military families. In fact, military children are twice as likely as their civilian counterparts to join as adults. Recently separated U.S. Army veteran Colter Kautzmann is no exception. The Montana native was born in Bozeman, where his dad spent three years teaching and coaching high schoolers and his mom worked as the assistant director of the Montana State University Alumni Association. He was introduced to the military at a young age when his dad returned to MSU as an AFROTC cadet after watching a Thunderbird airshow. Colter would eventually make the same decision to enter the military, but not before developing a passion for competitive golf that would shape much of his future.


MILITARY UPBRINGING

Left: Colter and his dad at 1st Envoy First Officer Flight in Texas in 2018. Right: Colter (age three) with dad at 1st T-18 AF flight in Texas in 1987.

Left: Colter and his dad at 1st Envoy First Officer Flight in Texas in 2018. Right: Colter (age three) with dad at 1st T-18 AF flight in Texas in 1987.

A self-proclaimed military brat, Colter spent much of his childhood in quite unlikely places. The family’s first assignment was Germany. “We probably moved 14 or 15 times over the 20 years that my dad was in the military,” he explains. “But I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. We lived in Hawaii for a couple years, all over the U.S., even in Egypt.” It was during that time that Colter was introduced to golf at the age of 14. “Dad was finishing up his remaining few months in Egypt, and my mom took me out with a friend to play a shorter course—a par 67 executive course,” recalls Colter, who took to the sport quickly. “My parents saw the potential and they saw that I enjoyed playing, but they had a different way of approaching things with me. Lots of junior golfers had been playing since they were toddlers—so I was a little behind, and they made me work for it. I started out with an old set of irons and a putter, and they’d say: If you can shoot in the mid-80s, we’ll get you a new driver. Then, if you can shoot in the mid-70s, we’ll get you a new set of clubs.”

But it wasn’t just about instilling discipline and determination; it was about teaching respect for the game and the importance of maintaining grace and composure, even through challenges. “ Dad was a huge fan of David Duval. Duval was so even-keeled—it didn’t matter if he was shooting 80 or 59,” says Colter. “He expected me to play and behave the same whether I was having a good day on the course or a bad one. That stuck with me, and I learned respect, poise, and composure.”

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As a teenager, Colter also earned his pilot’s license and began taking an interest in aviation—but golf held his attention. He competed through high school, winning the Arizona 4A State Championship as a senior. His success on the course landed him a golf scholarship at the University of Idaho. After graduation, Colter competed in local, state, and national tournaments as well as on the mini professional tours. At this point, golf had become a 24-7 occupation. Having met his future wife, Sara, and looking to provide more stability and a future for his soon-to-be family, Colter took a step back. In pursuit of his second passion—aviation—he applied for the Army Warrant Officer Aviation program. It's especially competitive, with few slots, but Colter had an advantage with a pilot's license and a college degree in hand, plus the focus and determination he'd cultivated as a competitive golfer. The Army recognized his talent and, at age 27, Colter started his military career as an Army aviator. With his first assignment set for Germany and his now-expectant wife, Sara, in tow, Colter was officially following in his father’s footsteps in more ways than one.


SERVICE & VALOR

Meanwhile, Colter’s mother had fallen ill. “When I joined, my mom had been diagnosed with a very rare type of cancer called Leiomyosarcoma,” he explains. “She had been fighting it on and off for a few years and I spent all the time I could with her,” he adds, recalling the three months he lived with her in a cancer center in New Orleans before leaving for basic training at Fort Leonard Wood.

After training, Colter received his wings and was assigned to Germany as a UH-60 Medevac pilot. His unit was charged with weekly Medevac rotations, overseeing high-risk training missions at Germany’s Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels training areas, where his company worked alongside NATO forces. The work was demanding and challenging; crews worked a one-week-on, one-week-off schedule and had to be prepared to respond to anything. “The military does phenomenal safety training,” notes Colter, “but that training involves risk and can be very dangerous. We had everything from jumpers getting stuck in trees to Humvee rollovers and injured soldiers and civilians. We flew real-world, life-saving missions in one of the world's largest training areas.”

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After four years in Germany, including missions in the Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine, and a fourmonth deployment to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Colter was tasked with a move to a different unit when the news that his mother’s condition had become terminal brought him back to the states. “My mom was a key piece of my life.” He pauses and takes a breath. “My daughter was born in Germany, and the nature of my assignments and deployments meant that she hadn’t spent more than a couple weeks with my mom.” He submitted a formal request to the Army to spend the rest of his time with the military with the Arizona Army Guard, which was quickly granted. The move meant a substantial change of scenery, both for Colter and his family, but it also meant a chance to be close to family and fulfill the desire for his daughter to get to know her grandmother.

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BACK IN THE STATES & ON THE COURSE

The return to the U.S. brought something of a change of pace. While most states experience the turbulence of natural disasters, Arizona is quite mild, demanding little in the way of emergency orders. At the same time, a small force meant that Guard members saw a wider variety of missions. “On active duty, my job was solely Medevac missions, but with the Guard, units are somewhat understaffed—so, if you’re available and qualified, you can get sent on just about any mission.”

With a controversial climate at the U.S.-Mexico border, Colter found himself in the cockpit once again, this time facilitating border missions. “We spent a lot of time flying senators and press members down to the border to get a first-hand look at a situation that a lot of people don’t fully understand,” explains Colter. “We were able to show them major cities where people cross the border in cars and other vehicles, and the areas where infrastructure is in place as well as areas where it’s not. We take them down there to show them the reality of the situation, and then let them make their own decisions on what needs to be done.”

Meanwhile, Colter also continued to golf and was looking to return to competitive play. “I have a friend—an Air Force guy up in Montana that I met in Germany—and we were looking to play some events and just get out more,” says Colter, who quickly found the Veteran Golfers Association after an ad for an upcoming event happened to be at his home course in Great Falls, Montana (his dad's second Air Force assignment location). The VGA event was actually scheduled to be held at the first golf course his dad ever took him to at age 11—not to play, but to ride along.

A nationally recognized 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, the VGA’s mission is to impact the lives of U.S. military veterans and their families through the game of golf. With chapters all over the country, the VGA provides opportunities for veterans to play great courses at a subsidized price point. They compete all seaosn long in a local series of events culminating in regional qualifiers and, ultimately, a national tournament. Run by veterans, for veterans, the organization provides opportunities for veterans to remain physically active and connect with other servicemembers during their crucial transition back to civilian life and beyond.

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“The VGA is really a special organization,” says Colter. Though a relatively new member, he's already made a name for himself as a competitor, winning the central regional championship held in August at Nebraska City’s ArborLinks (part of the prestigious Dormie Network) to qualify for a spot in the VGA Championship at West Virginia’s renowned Greenbriar Golf Club. But it’s not just about the golf; it’s about returning to the relationships and camaraderie unique to military service.

“I’ve heard some phenomenal stories and met some amazing people,” says Colter, noting that the values behind the organization extend from the players and regional directors all the way to the organization’s president. “He would drop anything to do anything for any member of the VGA, or just if you need to talk. It’s crazy having someone that high up in the organization willing to drop everything and give you a call at any second.”


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Today, Colter is Envoy Regional Jet First Officer on the EMB 175. He recently moved to Dallas to be closer to family, and is settling into civilian life with Sara, the kids, and plenty of golf. While his path has certainly been his own, in many ways, it mirrors his family’s values and traditions, many of which were instilled at a very young age. For Colter, it all came full circle when he was able to take his dad—a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who flew the F-16 and is now a test pilot for Gulfstream Aerospace—on his last Black Hawk flight before separating from the Army. Of course, Colter still flies his dad as an airline passenger, one who gets a few extra cookies from the cabin attendant (airline perks!).


GolfStatus is honored to partner with the Veteran Golfers Association. Learn more about the VGA at

www.vga.org.


 
Katie CasillasComment
Case Study: How one Nonprofit Doubled the Fundraising Revenue for its Golf Tournament in One Year
 
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A golf outing can certainly be a lucrative fundraising endeavor. For Hope Center Uganda, a global 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Lincoln, Nebraska, the willingness to implement a simple golf event management platform yielded substantial returns—attracting more players and sponsors, saving time and resources, and ultimately doubling the event’s fundraising revenue in just one year!


About the Hope Center

Sprawling central Africa’s Nile Basin, Uganda is cradled by the torn lands of Kenya, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda. Drenched in the equatorial sun, the sweeping terrain is almost transcendent—a stark contrast to the hardships that afflict its people: a tumultuous political climate; dismal economic conditions; and an unyielding AIDS epidemic, not to mention the relentless challenges of everyday survival. Statistically, it is one of the poorest countries in the world, a reality that disproportionately impacts the 84% of its population living in rural communities. These complex and largely systemic conditions leave the country’s children abandoned in devastating numbers. As many as 1.5 million children in Uganda are homeless—a tragic 5% of its population. Hope Center Uganda’s commitment is to those children.

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With a task force of fewer than 20 and a small network of volunteers, Hope Center Uganda provides care for between 25 and 30 abandoned children at any given time. The majority are brought to the center as babies—just weeks or months old. “These children are left in toilets, puddles of water, bushes, garbage piles,” explains Hope Center Uganda’s President Barbie Wells. “Many come to us starved, abused, and emaciated.”

Approximately half of the organization’s monthly operational budget of around $5,000 is funded by recurring gifts from donors all over the world. The remaining balance is left to ongoing fundraising efforts. “Honestly, we’re only ever about one month ahead,” says Barbie. “It’s like living paycheck to paycheck. It’s scary, but somehow, by the grace of God, we make the number every single month. Somebody steps up.”

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The Golf Fundraiser

The idea to host a golf outing came last year from a donor with a connection to one of the local municipal golf courses. Barbie quickly organized her team to rally the effort. “We did everything manually, tracking information in a spreadsheet and getting everything set up. It was weeks of work, and we had never done it before, so it was especially challenging to collect and organize everything and then actually promote the event,” explains Barbie.

Heading into its second annual Golf Fore Hope event, the Hope Center sought not only to hold a more lucrative fundraiser overall, but to leverage the event to build its donor base, and ultimately the organization’s capacity. For all of these endeavors, golf presents ample opportunity. “The fundraising is definitely important,” explains Barbie. “If we don’t have resources, we can’t support the orphaned children who need our help to survive. But the other thing we determined very quickly is that the golf fundraiser allows us to expand our donor base because it’s an event people love!”

“The golf fundraiser allows us to expand our donor base because it’s an event people love!”

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Strategies for Success

Ahead of this year’s event, the Hope Center adopted a simple event management platform designed specifically for golf fundraisers. The upgrade to GolfStatus.org (a no-cost, web-based platform with everything fundraisers need to plan, promote, and coordinate all the details of a golf outing in one place) provided a number of immediate and long-term advantages. It also paved the way for Barbie and her team to focus on, streamline, and execute the following key priorities:

  • Promotion and networking. Being associated with a fun, well-run, community event helps brands and businesses build goodwill and a favorable public image. That’s the key value of sponsorship, and a charity golf fundraiser is an ideal sponsorship investment. Barbie’s team was able to successfully attract sponsors through a combination of promotion, networking, and even cold calling. In addition to promoting the event through the GolfStatus app and online, Hope Center Uganda used social media to spread the word, adding GolfStatus as a co-host of the event so both the Hope Center and GolfStatus could post and share about the event. When supporters had connections to local businesses, they reached out to secure sponsorships. “In addition to networking and cold calls, there were also some cases where we just walked into businesses and asked if they were interested in supporting the event—so we were a little bold in some instances,” says Barbie.

  • Simple registration. Once players and sponsors hear about an event, it’s important to make sure the registration process is as seamless as possible. For Barbie and her team, that meant employing a simple online registration process that volunteers could easily track for personal outreach purposes. “Last year, we did have a website that we set up ourselves, but it didn’t work properly so we had some registration hiccups,” explains Barbie. “The online registration process GolfStatus.org set up for us saved a ton of time! Our volunteers were then able to go into the software once we gave them admin permissions to manage those registrations and then reach out to people registering for the event and purchasing sponsorships. Having all that information in one easily accessible place was huge!”

  • Effective team and sponsorship pricing. In the second year, Barbie and her team also substantially increased the pricing for teams and sponsorships. Certainly, there are a number of factors contributing to pricing (the facility, the player and sponsor demographic, the event’s goals, and its previous years’ price points to name a few), but evaluating pricing with regularity is crucial. With the shift in pricing, the Hope Center made a concerted effort to convey the impact of every dollar. “We increased our price from $150 to $450 per hole sponsorship,” explains Barbie. “We had a lot of nay-sayers who said that was too much. We explained to people that sponsoring one hole was the equivalent of sponsoring one child for a whole year and that really resonated with people.”

  • The ability to offer sponsors value. Keep in mind that sponsors are primarily looking for associative value—that is, a clear connection to a great experience and a great cause. Hope Center Uganda was able to bring on 13 sponsors, including a Honda dealership, a Toyota dealership, a local photography studio, an insurance agency, a creative agency, a home builder, an engineering company, a national beef brand, and a garage door installation company—among others. “We used a combination of pricing, promotion, and networking to attract sponsors,” explains Barbie, “And then we had all the perks of GolfStatus to offer as additional leverage to help us bring in higher-level sponsors.” Those perks included exposure across multiple channels—on the registration website, in the mobile live-scoring app, on leaderboards within the mobile app, posted online, and projected in the clubhouse—and more. Hole sponsors were also able to provide custom imagery and messaging for better exposure and added value.

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  • The right tools and technology. Keeping track of information is half the battle when it comes to planning a large-scale, registration-driven fundraising event like a golf outing. Hope Center Uganda certainly needed a way to track and manage information, but it needed a platform that would be user friendly, easy to learn, accessible, and capable of tracking all the key information needed specifically for a golf event (including pairings, hole assignments, and the like). “The interface is so sleek and very easy to navigate. I just logged in and had all the information I needed. Half the time, we’re juggling phone calls and multitasking our way through checking on a registrant—and the software is so simple that we never had an issue, even without the ability to give it our full attention all the time.”

  • Live scoring at the event. At a typical golf event, golfers compete on the course and don’t necessarily know how they’re doing in comparison to other golfers. Live scoring makes it possible for golfers to see scores in real time on live leaderboards, making the event more competitive, more engaging, and more fun. “Everyone loved the live scoring and using the mobile app,” notes Barbie. “In my group, the person scoring was an older gentleman—over 65—and he loved it. It’s so easy and intuitive, even for players who aren’t tech savvy. He commented multiple times about how simple and sleek it was.”

  • A professional-caliber event. When the event runs cleanly and smoothly, volunteers, donors, sponsors, and other supporters walk away having had an all-around great experience. “The people who attended our first year’s event versus this year’s noticed that everything was in order and running smoothly,” explains Barbie. “That reflects positively on our organization and shows us in a positive light, attracting additional supporters to our cause.”

Key Outcomes

  • Additional fundraising revenue. Certainly the most noteworthy outcome for the Hope Center was the substantial increase in fundraising revenue from the year prior (the event’s first year). In one year, the organization was able to double fundraising revenue from around $7,000 to over $14,000.

  • Time Savings. For a small team, staff and volunteer time is everything, and the more of it that can be saved, the better. With an especially small task force of volunteers, every hour of time savings means more time can be devoted to more pressing areas. “Doing everything manually the first year was weeks of work, and we had never done it before, so collecting and organizing everything and then actually promoting the event were especially challenging,” explains Barbie.

  • Additional outreach and awareness. In the weeks leading up to the event, a number of players and sponsors became actively engaged in the event—sharing and posting about it on social media and encouraging friends to fill out teams. The result was a total of 84 players participating in the event, many of whom were influential members of the community who were also able to spread the word to sponsors.

  • A more professional event. It all rolls up into a better fundraiser that’s easier to manage, and serious about serving its cause and its donors. “Last year, people could tell we scrambled to put the event together,” Barbie admits. “With the GolfStatus platform, we’re able to provide a more polished and engaging event that casts our organization in a more legitimate and professional light.”

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Need a hand with your upcoming golf fundraiser?

Submit an inquiry here

or

email us directly at events@golfstatus.org

 
Katie Casillas Comment
10 Quick Tips to Attract More Players to your Charity Golf Outing
 
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It’s that time of year—your golf fundraiser is just around the corner! If you still have teams to fill, here are a few quick, actionable ways to attract players and get them registered!


1. Make registration as easy as possible.

The people likely to support your golf outing are busy! Most are business professionals and they don’t have time to fill out forms, mail them in, hassle with checks, and deal with logistics. If your registration process is as easy as visiting a website and paying with a credit card, you can share a link and players will register on the spot. Quick. Easy. Done.

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2. Set up an event website.

Keep it clean, simple, and professional, and be sure it can accommodate online registration. An event website makes promo a breeze, and gives volunteers, board members, donors, and other members of your network a place to send players and sponsors.

3. Contact past participants.

Connect with folks who have played in your event in years prior. Let them know the event is coming up and be sure to ask if they know of anyone who might be interested in learn more about the event.

4. Call on your board members.

Ask each of your board members to list five to 10 contacts to reach out to about playing in and/or sponsoring the event. A specific, manageable request gives them an actionable goal and makes it easy for them to deliver.

5. Connect with local businesses.

Make a list of 10 local businesses that might be interested in getting their brand in front of golfers (a highly coveted demographic). Consider home builders, jewelers, auto dealerships, insurance providers, travel agencies, sporting goods retailers, doctors, dentists, chiropractors, and real estate agents. It’s also a good idea to reach out to businesses that have supported your golf event or other fundraisers in the past.

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6. Send strategic reminder and promo emails.

Start with a save-the-date-style email six or so months ahead of time. Then, a couple months before the event, send a reminder. Be sure emails (and all your social media posts) link to your online registration page so everything is seamless.


7. Make sure players understand the impact of their purchase.

Provide as much context as possible for where and how every dollar counts. Look for ways to equate the value of a hole sponsorship or team registration, for example, to a specific outcome. For example, one hole sponsorship provides food for a child in need for one full year. Include this information in emails, social media posts, and conversations.


8. Promote the event on social media.

Start by creating a Facebook event. It’s quick and easy (click here for a step-by-step walkthrough). Be sure to list GolfStatus.org as a co-host so we can promote the event on our channels too.


9. Promote the event through GolfStatus.

Get in front of avid golfers in your area by listing your event in our online search at events.golfstatus.com, and in the free mobile GolfStatus app, which thousands of golfers use regularly. This is free and easy promo to your target audience.

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10. Get personal.  

Don’t be afraid to contact donors directly. Look for solutions that help you save time on event planning and logistics so you can focus on the relationships that keep donors engaged in events like your annual outing, and invested in its success.

Need a hand promoting your upcoming golf fundraiser?

Submit an inquiry here
or
email us directly at events@golfstatus.org

 
 
Katie CasillasComment
All about Live-Scoring

The Easy Way to Upgrade Your Golf Fundraiser

 

Live-scoring and leaderboards are the standard at professional, high-end golf tournaments, displaying scores and rankings for teams and players both in person and online during the event. It used to be that live leaderboards were only feasible for professional-level pro-ams and Tour events. Not anymore.


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Live Scoring & Leaderboards From GolfStatus

  1. Golfers use the free GolfStatus app to keep score and access live leaderboards during the golf outing.

  2. Scores update in real-time, and golf courses display them on TVs in the clubhouse and at comfort stations.

  3. Spectators, donors, sponsors, and others follow and share live and final results online.

 

Why It Matters

Players love live leaderboards because they make golf outings more competitive and memorable. Facilities love that live scoring saves them tons of time at the end of the event; everything is automated and there’s no need to spend hours painstaking tallying scores by hand at the end of an event. Sponsors love them because they’re a great exposure opportunity—the place everyone’s looking during the entire event and after.


How It Works

GolfSatus makes live-scoring super simple through a free mobile app that players or scorekeepers use to input scores during the event. Scores feed into an in-app leaderboard in real time that players can check at any time (another great exposure opportunity for sponsors). The golf facility can also display live leaderboards on clubhouse and comfort station TVs, as well as online on the event website and on social media.

 
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How to Do It

Live scoring and leaderboards are part of the deal when you leverage GolfStatus.org, which streamlines everything from event setup to online registration, hole assignments, and all the other logistics involved in planning a golf fundraiser.


Interested in learning more about live leaderboards for your golf fundraiser?

Submit an inquiry here
or
email us directly at events@golfstatus.org

 
The Easy Way to Promote your Golf Fundraiser to Golfers & Sponsors in your Area
 
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Whether you’re a golfer looking for tournaments to play in, a sponsor looking for opportunities to align your brand with community efforts and great causes, or a tournament organizer spreading the word about an upcoming fundraiser—the events page from GolfStatus helps everyone get connected.


Easy Exposure for Event Organizers

Spreading the word about your organization’s golf outing is crucial to its success. Whether you’re using the event to grow your donor base, steward existing donors, or facilitate corporate partnerships, don’t forget that golf fundraisers are a chance to raise the mission-critical funds needed to sustain and expand your capacity to serve. When you take advantage of GolfStatus.org, your organization is able to leverage our user base (thousands of avid golfers nationwide) and networks to reach more players and engage more sponsors. The result is outreach that requires zero additional effort on your part, a better turnout the day of the event, and better outcomes overall.

On-the-Spot Registration for Golfers

Golfers looking for golf tournaments to play have a couple easy ways to find them. Golfers use the free mobile GolfStatus app to track their rounds on the golf course and earn rewards and exclusive offers from partner facilities and sponsors; when they’re looking for a tournament, they simply tap the tournaments icon to browse listings for upcoming events. Registering—including purchasing teams, mulligans, raffle tickets, and other package add-ons—is quick and easy. Golfers also visit https://events.golfstatus.com to browse and search events by name or facility. The reality is that people are busy, and when they have to take extra steps like mailing in forms, writing checks, or picking up the phone, they’re less likely to do so. With the right promo and simple registration channels, golfers can find your event and register right from their computer or mobile phone.

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A Time-Saving Convenience for Sponsors

These platforms also make it easy for brands and businesses to find events to support and to purchase sponsorship packages and teams instantly. Golf tournaments provide focused exposure to a high-value demographic in an environment that casts businesses in a positive light—making these events an ideal sponsorship opportunity. Sponsors can browse sponsorship packages customized by the tournament organizer and purchase them instantly and securely from a smartphone or computer without hassle. Sponsors then become eligible to display their branding on the sponsor page for the event—which is seen by players and other sponsors searching for events—as well as on live leaderboards, on the course, and through a number of other channels the day of the event.

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Interested in promoting your upcoming event through GolfStatus? Contact us at

events@golfstatus.org

to learn more.

 
 
Katie CasillasComment
How to Organize a Golf Fundraiser
 

A Timeline & Checklist for the First-Timer or the Veteran Event Organizer

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Maybe you’ve been tasked with organizing a golf fundraiser for the first time, or you’re thinking about pitching the idea. You’ve heard horror stories, but you know the benefits—the fact that golf events are an ideal way to reach new donors, that they’re a great way to get face time with key supporters and connect with corporate partners and sponsors, and that the funds raised can be huge. In fact, for many organizations, the golf tournament is one of two or three key annual fundraising events. Even so, the thought of planning and executing a successful charity golf outing can be a bit intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s a breakdown of considerations to make, and an outline to help you kick-start a game plan.


1. Outline your goals.

Start by considering your goals, which might include: raising funds, raising awareness, attracting prospective donors, engaging or stewarding current donors, forging or strengthening sponsor relationships, connecting your donor and sponsor networks, teeing up larger initiatives and outreach efforts, or others. Your goals will dictate key details like the type of event you hold, the committee or volunteer help you’ll need, the event schedule, who you invite, your budget and revenue projections, and the facility you choose.

2. Outline cost and revenue projections and set a preliminary budget.

Consider your goals, revenue projections, and available resources to outline a budget for the event. Expenses might include: golf facility usage (green fees, cart usage, range balls, banquet space, service fees and gratuity), food and beverage, player and sponsor gifts, team prizes, marketing materials, shirts, and signage. At the same time, consider revenue sources, including entry fees, mulligans, raffle tickets, donations, and sponsorships. Note that sponsorship packages can be tiered to attract supporters large and small, or created in an a-la-cart fashion. Consider price points for sponsorship packages based on the demographic you expect to attract, the quality of the venue, past years’ price points, and the expenses you’ll need to cover. Note that using the GolfStatus.org platform opens the door for branded pin flag sponsorships (the kind you see at professional-level events) as well as a special Technology Sponsorship category that includes online and live leaderboard exposure, as well as in-app exposure opportunities.

3. Designate a point of contact, committee, or task force and delegate.

Outline available resources and consider how you’ll engage and collaborate with peers and volunteers. Whether you’re on your own, working with a team of volunteers, borrowing time from well-connected and influential board members, or a combination of all three, you’ll need to stay on the same page so it’s easy for folks to lend a hand. That’s especially easy when you use web-based tools. Take advantage of user access permissions so you can delegate the component parts of organizing a golf fundraiser (sponsor management, registration oversight and event promotion, and even details like hole assignments) to specific members of your organization or volunteers as needed. GolfStatus.org checks each of those boxes, and makes it super easy to pass information to the golf professional staff at the facility, who can use it to do hole assignments, print tee sheets and cart signs, and perform other time-consuming tasks in the days leading up to and on the day of your event. When everything is in order, staff are calm and collected, and available to provide assistance and service to event attendees.

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4. Choose a date and golf facility.

Reach out to your networks to leverage connections that might make it possible to play a private facility or get in at an attractive price point. Consider the membership or customer demographic for the facility and the surrounding area and be sure it aligns with your goals. Work with the facility to coordinate a date, taking into account course conditions and scheduling, holidays (especially travel holidays), competing local events, and other factors that might affect turnout. You’ll also need to finalize the time and format, as well as pricing, sponsorship packages, and schedule so you can start promoting the outing.

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5. Set up your event and registration website.

This takes about 15 minutes when you use the GolfStatus.org platform. Simply plug in event details (format, number of participants, start time, et cetera), give your event a name, and create it instantly. It’s a good idea to include campaign and outreach efforts in your event information, which provides players and sponsors with the information they need to join your cause. The key advantage of an event website—one that’s tailored specifically to the golf fundraiser—is that it provides a central platform for accepting and organizing team and individual registrations, collecting sponsorships, processing payments, and staying informed about the event. That includes details ahead of the event, live leaderboards the day of, and final results displays and keep people talking and sharing your event even after it’s over.

6. Promote the event to attract participants and sponsors.

Promote the event instantly by making it public in GolfStatus’s tournament marketplace, where players can search for and find events, then register for them from a mobile device in minutes. Also be sure to share and promote your event (linking to your event website as the call to action for player and sponsor registrations) on social media, via personal emails and blast campaigns, through texts, and even in flyers, post cards, and other print materials. Create a Facebook event page for your event and add GolfStatus.org as a co-host (click here for a step-by-step guide on how to do it); we’ll share your event across our networks to help spread the word. Be sure to connect with the golf facility and encourage cross-promotion through your social channels and theirs. It’s also a good idea to reach out to local media outlets (newspapers, local news channels, and even local blogs and influencers) to let them know that your event is in the works, and update them when a major sponsor joins your cause.

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7. Leverage your networks.

Encourage staff, board members, and volunteers to reach out to their networks and share registration information. Whether you simply brainstorm prospects or segment them automatically from your database, create a list of players and corporate supporters to reach out to. Pro tip: Consider asking board members and highly engaged volunteers to each list five to 10 prospects at your monthly board meeting, then report back on their registration status at each meeting in the months leading up to the event; this provides a small but concrete and actionable list that each member can act on and a little accountability with the understanding that follow ups are impending.

8. Coordinate with sponsors to manage assets and messaging.

As sponsorships are purchased, you’ll need to keep the brand assets for each (logos, imagery, and messaging) organized and be sure they are always displayed nicely and in the proper locations. GolfStatus.org makes this easy with a sponsorship management interface that keeps track of everything. It’s super easy to use and access, and access permissions let you delegate easily to one or more staffers or volunteers. You can pop in and check things out as needed, or let them run with it. When you’ve sold the Technology Sponsorship for your event, give GolfStatus a heads up so we can order branded pin flags and coordinate with the facility to get them up for the event.

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9. Coordinate with vendors, get quotes, and fill in cost details.

Track and manage costs and details in a simple spreadsheet as you call on and finalize vendor orders. You may only need to consider a few vendors depending on the size and scope of your event: a print design company for your t-shirts; a food and beverage provider (if the clubhouse isn’t full-service), décor and signage as needed; and a tee gift provider.

10. Touch base with the golf facility.  

In the weeks and days ahead of the event, you’ll need to coordinate some final details with the golf facility—including the number of players you’re expecting, vendor deliveries, setup times, and other key details. They’ll also want to dig into team pairings and hole assignments, which can be done right from the GolfStatus.org platform. The golf professional staff can also instantly format and print all the materials they’ll need the day of the event (including cart signs, tee sheets, and alpha lists) right from the software. This time savings is huge, as it keeps staff free to assist you and your event participants—instead of tied up in a back office with paperwork.

11. Get ready for the next round.  

One key advantage of using the GolfStatus.org platform is the ability to copy a previous event, pulling in format and other specifics with the ability to edit details like date and time. This means that your next event is already set up and basically ready to go. You just login when it gets a little closer, update any details, and start spreading the word.

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Katie CasillasComment
U.S. military Veteran George Dexter finds peace in an unlikely place
 

A Return To Vietnam

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On February 24th, 2019, a group of graying Vietnam War veterans boarded a plane to return to Vietnam—a place many of them swore they’d never go back to. Their smooth faces and freshly pressed fatigues have been replaced by weathered expressions, creased t-shirts, and ball caps. This tour, nearly 50 years later, isn’t about duty, weapons, and war; it’s about offering 53 Northeast Wisconsin veterans a chance at reconciliation, healing, and peace. Conducted by Old Glory Honor Flight—an all-volunteer northeast Wisconsin organization dedicated to serving war veterans—this once-in-a-lifetime trip takes veterans to locations they occupied during the Vietnam War. From the sweltering swamplands of the Mekong Delta in South Vietnam to the remains of North Vietnam’s Hoa Lo Prison, dubbed the “Hanoi Hilton” by American prisoners of war, the trip offered the veterans a chance to heal old wounds and build new relationships with the land and people of Vietnam.


Courage & Survival

One of the veterans on board was George Dexter, who served in the Army’s 9th Infantry Division during the war. George enlisted at the start of his lifelong career as a mail carrier, just after his best friend was killed in combat in Vietnam. During the War, George’s primary duty was delivering mail to the troops. “I was still a mailman, just a heavily armed one,” George chuckles before drawing in a deep breath. “I did whatever it took to get our guys their mail.”

Two or three times a week, George brought mail—whether by jeep, truck, or helicopter—to troops wherever they were, even on the war’s most dangerous battlefronts. “One time, I went to bring mail to our mechanized unit, and they weren’t where they usually were,” recalls George, who himself was injured in combat and awarded a number of honors for his bravery, including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. “I came back to base and did some digging around, and I finally located them in Cambodia, so I requisitioned a C130 transport plane to fly me to the Cambodian border. From there, I unloaded the mail into a truck, and went with a six-vehicle convoy to where our guys were. They started their mission with 18 vehicles, and when I found them, they were down to one.” He pauses. “When I finally caught up with them, they were a mess. But I found what was left of them and got them their mail.”

George’s service in Vietnam—and that of many of his fellow soldiers—centered on a single philosophy. “Survival,” says George. “Any given day could be our last.” Such grave circumstances demand bonds between soldiers that can never be broken. “In a lot of cases, we didn’t have to say any words to know what the others were thinking,” he says.

 

The Trip Of A Lifetime

The Old Glory Honor Flight to Vietnam gave veterans the opportunity to revisit some of those bonds, as well as forge new ones. Exploring significant military sites together—places where many of them spent time in battle—brought intense, cathartic emotions quickly met by brotherly understanding and support. “They told us when we started the trip that things were bound to get emotional for each and every one of us,” says George. “We were there for each other through all of those moments. We had each other’s backs.”

George was especially inspired by how well-received he and his fellow veterans were by the local people. “We were treated with such kindness and respect,” he says. “We even met a former enemy who was a fighter pilot for North Vietnam. We all shook hands and gave hugs. He was someone’s father, son, and brother just like we were. It felt really, really good to do that after 50 years.”

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A Well-Deserved Return

The week-long trip was packed with laughter and tears to be sure, but perhaps the most powerful experience was the return home, especially when compared to the return from Vietnam nearly 50 years ago. 

Amid a particularly treacherous political climate, many American soldiers returning stateside after surviving unspeakable horrors were greeted with scorn. Spitting, vulgar gestures, and even violence toward returning soldiers was commonplace, adding yet another layer of trauma to the soldiers’ already life-altering experiences. And because of the war’s longevity and resulting deployment logistics (a soldier completed a year-long tour of duty and was then replaced by another), soldiers often returned home alone rather than with their unit.

50 years later, the veterans on the Old Glory Honor flight finally received the welcome home they deserve. After a long flight and bus ride back to Menasha, Wisconsin, the group was greeted by a law enforcement escort. “When I saw the flashing lights and heard the sirens, that’s when the tears started for me,” says George. At their destination—Menasha High School—the veterans were met by their spouses and families, tenacious embraces, and tears of joy and healing.

The heartfelt homecoming only intensified as the veterans entered the school’s gymnasium, which erupted into raucous cheering from over 3,000 supporters. It was a moment that could bring even the hardest soldier to tears. “I cried like a baby,” says George.

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Finding Peace

George’s return to Vietnam brought him peace, healing, and camaraderie—things that are crucial to veterans as they adjust to civilian life. In life after war, George has found another source of solace: golf.

When he started golfing at 60, it was love at first swing. “I fell in love with the game the first time I held a club in my hands,” says George, who is today an active member of the Veteran Golfers Association, a nonprofit committed to enriching the lives of U.S. military veterans and their family members through the sportsmanship and camaraderie of golf. “You’re out in God’s creation, and you’ve got nature and wildlife at its best, and it’s you and a little white ball,” says George through a smile. “It’s hard to beat that.” 

The Veterans Golfers Association has taken George’s love for the sport to the next level. When George heard his home course Thornberry Creek at Oneida (the official course of the Green Bay Packers and the home of the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic) was holding one of eight qualifying tournament events for the VGA Championship, he joined the association immediately. Along with participating in the VGA qualifying event held at Thornberry, he also earned a spot as one of 83 golfers to qualify for the VGA Championship held in Pinehurst, North Carolina. George was tickled to have the opportunity to play Pinehurst No. 2, No. 4, and No. 5 with fellow veterans—an experience he ranks as one of his most memorable.

George’s successful golf career with the VGA has continued; he’s qualified for regional and championship events several times. But his on-course successes are secondary to the relationships he’s built in the VGA because for George, the real, heart-healing reconciliation happens when he builds unbreakable bonds with other vets who have given so much to our country—whether on the course or through experiences that meet life-altering turmoil with peace. “I love meeting people from all over the country who have put on a uniform and served this great nation,” says George. “Being out on the course with fellow vets—it doesn’t get better than that.”

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This article first appeared in the spring 2019 edition of GolfStatus magazine. Learn more about the Veteran Golfers Association at

www.VGAGolf.org


 
Katie CasillasComment
How to Create a Facebook Event for your Fundraiser
 

(It’s super easy!)

Setting up a Facebook event for your fundraisers is an easy (and free!) way to keep them in front of attendees, participants, sponsors, and other supporters. Event pages are easy to share and follow, they make it easy to communicate info to participants and supporters, and they pop up when folks within your supporters’ networks follow and share them. They’re also free, and only take a few minutes to create. If you’re organizing a golf fundraiser, be sure to create one. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Create an event. From the Facebook business page for your organization, select events, then create event.

  2. Fill in details. Add a title for your golf fundraiser, upload a photo, fill in additional details, and select a date and time. Choose the golf facility that will host your event in the location field. Choose an event category and add keywords, which will make your event easier for potential participants and supporters to find. Keywords also help Facebook determine where and how to recommend your event to people who might be interested.

  3. Add GolfStatus.org. Under co-hosts, begin typing and select GolfStatus.org. Adding us to your event keeps it on our radar, so we can promote it to our followers—many of whom are avid golfers and involved in nonprofit work. As you post and share your event, we’ll do the same to help spread the word.

  4. Add your event website. In the ticket URL field, paste the link to your GolfStatus registration website. This directs Facebook users right to your event’s online registration page, where they can instantly purchase an individual or team registration and/or sponsorship.  

  5. Share and engage. Once set up, share your event page regularly, tagging GolfStatus.org, sponsors, the golf facility, and other supporters. Tagging these folks is a great way to show appreciation and recognition for their support; it also ensures that your posts reach a larger audience.

  6. Promote. As the event draws closer, consider boosting your posts as you make one last push to attract supporters. The day of the event, be sure to share live leaderboards on your organization’s page so spectators can follow along and stay engaged.

 

Get your event website up and running and start promoting your golf fundraiser today.

Contact us at events@golfstatus.org.



Army Sergeant Adam Poppenhouse Finds Community & Inspiration on the Golf Course
 

Adam Poppenhouse picked up his first golf club when he was six years old. “My grandmother took me to the course for the first time,” he says. “It was her mission that I learn to play golf, and there was no way she was going to fail.” Adam spent much of his childhood summers on the course, playing golf with his family and his hand-me-down clubs. “They were total, total garbage,” he laughs. “They actually had screws on the face, but off we went.”


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Service & Sacrifice

Then off Adam went to the Army in 2004, right out of high school. Mechanically inclined, he trained on M1 Abrams battle tanks in Fort Knox, Kentucky, then in Fort Lewis, Washington, in the Third Stryker Brigade, which deployed to Iraq at the end of July 2006. On December 3rd, Adam’s company was tasked with securing a crash site from an F-15 in a particularly hostile area outside of Baghdad. In an instant, the 20-ton vehicle carrying Adam and other members of his company was 300 feet from the road it had been on—a 30-foot crater in its place. An IED (improvised explosive device) was the source, and it detonated right where Adam’s boots had stood. He remembers lying flat on his back, waiting for the emergency helicopter to arrive.

“I lost my right leg in the explosion,” he says, and his left leg was severely injured. “It took me about a year to feel confident and strong on my prosthetic, and the stronger my right leg became, the weaker and weaker my left leg became. It was severely mangled and very painful. The bones started to fall apart, so we made the decision to amputate my left leg.”



The Road To Recovery

Adam was honorably discharged from the Army, and he immediately set out on the road to recovery. He re-entered the game of golf, this time as a double amputee. “I dove into golf as part of my physical and mental recovery,” he says. “I couldn’t stand going to the same physical therapy ward and looking at the same equipment every day. Golf was something physically challenging I could do on a daily basis where I wasn’t just going through the motions. It kept me on my feet, at least for a little bit, and if I needed to rely on the cart, it was there.”

Adam also relied on the course as a place of solace—a safe, quiet retreat that allowed him to process his experiences. “I golfed alone pretty often early in my recovery,” he says. “The course was a place for me to be introspective and deal with the thoughts I was left with after experiencing war. It’s calm, yet it kept my mind on something challenging and positive. There’s definitely a lot of unhealthy things you can get into when you return from war, but golf isn’t one of them.”

Adam’s journey to competitive golf has been a grind. Any player will tell you the game is more than challenging, and for most, the thought of playing it without legs is nearly unimaginable; Adam, however, attacks the challenge head-on. “Sure, it adds a slew of variables to an already very difficult activity,” he says. “But I look at it as two sides of a fence; there’s practice, and then there’s prosthetic maintenance." There for support is his prosthetics company, Precision Orthotics and Prosthetics in Las Vegas. "I spend about three days a week at the course, and I spend two days a week at the prosthetics lab getting tightened, working on better fits, trying out different equipment, and seeing what helps the golf swing.”


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Finding A Niche

When Adam heard about the Veteran Golfers Association and its goal—to enrich the lives of veterans and their family members through golf—he knew it was an organization he wanted to be part of. “Golf is important to me, and veterans are important to me, so the VGA is the best of both worlds,” he says. Part of the VGA’s work is to ensure out-of-pocket costs aren’t a deterrent for veterans who’d like to participate. An annual VGA membership fee of $40 gives each member access to approximately 250 local VGA tour events across the country, as well as a USGA equivalent handicap index. Over the last four years, the VGA has grown to serve more and more veterans, and it now operates as a transitional resource for veterans entering civilian life.

“I flew to DuPont, Washington, for my first VGA tournament,” says Adam. “Lucas O’Neill, the regional director for the West, met me at the course. We had dinner, and he made sure I was squared away. Before I even played golf, I felt like I had made a friend and that it was the right community for me. I fell in love with it.”

Now Adam competes in tournaments all over the country and continues to improve his game. “I just want to get better every day,” Adam says. “This will be my last year competing in the net flight, so I’m moving up to test the deeper waters. For me, the competition is always second to the experience, but no one hates getting a medal or a trophy,” he laughs. “When you know you’ve put in the work, you’ve grinded and practiced hard, and you show up and perform—that validates the day-to-day struggle. I’d like to feel a little more of that,” he smiles.


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Camaraderie on & off the Course

For Adam, the rewards—and they come in many different forms—are more than worth the work. “I’ve gone to places I never thought I would, and I have friends across the country,” says Adam. “Golf is the perfect game for breaking down social barriers. You might be feeling a little intimidated or shy, but then you get on the course and somebody hits a worm-burner. I don’t care who you are, that’s always funny!” he laughs. “Really though, golf is an outlet that promotes the building of relationships between strangers.”

When those strangers are veterans, the relationships formed are often unbreakable bonds. This year’s regional championship was in Las Vegas, where Adam currently lives with his wife Megan and three-year-old son Adam Jr. “A bromance has started with a new friend I met at this year’s championship,” laughs Adam. “He wasn’t competing, but he was a vet who saw there was a VGA tournament in town, so he decided to come and have a beer with us when we were done. We got to talking, and he and his wife and kids are new to town, so we went to the pool the next week. Now our wives are good friends, too.”


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Small Victories

Exciting things are on the horizon for the Poppenhouses, as they anxiously await the arrival of their second son in October—name yet to be determined. “Adam Jr. has named him Bob, so regardless of the name we decide on, he’ll probably go by Bob,” he laughs. Throughout the challenges and milestones, Megan, who also served in the Army, has been Adam’s rock. “She’s an incredible, strong woman,” Adam says, “and she understands how important the relationship aspect of the VGA is to me. She’s unbelievably supportive.”

In the future, Adam wants to continue building the community of nearby veterans through the VGA. “It’d be great to have a home course for VGA members here in the Las Vegas area,” he says, and you can practically hear the gears turning. With perseverance like his, one can’t help but believe he’ll make it happen. But Army Sergeant Adam Poppenhouse stays humble; he knows the best results happen one step at a time. “When it comes to helping vets, the little victories are the most important. For me, it’s an interesting place to be—to go to the course and hear from veterans and other amputees, Hey, man, you inspired me to get back into the game. Can I buy you a beer? That moment, right there. That’s where it’s at for me.”


Learn more about the Veteran Golfers Association at

www.VGAGolf.org.


This article first appeared in the fall 2018 edition of GolfStatus magazine.

 
Katie CasillasComment
Simplify Golf Fundraiser Promo & Registration
 

How to Automate with a Custom Event Website

When you’re trying to recruit players and sponsors for a golf fundraiser, the easier it is to spread the word and get folks registered, the better! An event website lets you quickly and easily promote your golf outing, while at the same time providing a central location to collect registrations, entry fees, and sponsorships.

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Simple Event Promotion

Golf fundraisers powered by GolfStatus.org have the key advantage of a sleek, professional event website that simplifies the process of collecting registrations and makes it easy to seamlessly coordinate with the golf facility—all at no cost to your organization. With a simple copy-and-paste of the event link, you can instantly promote your outing on social media, through email campaigns, personal messages, and texts, or anywhere online.

Public events are accessible to avid golfers through the free GolfStatus app, where users can search for and register for events from a mobile device quickly and easily. GolfStatus also makes it easy for registrants to invite teammates, drawing more players to the tournament.

 

Streamline Registration

A custom event website for your fundraiser gives golfers everything they need to make a decision: complete event details, entry pricing, sponsorship package details, round information, and a list of confirmed participants and event sponsors. Sponsors can also register and pay directly on the event page, giving busy executives a hassle-free way to commit and submit payment at their convenience. With instant payment and a clear list of sponsor options, decision makers lock in sponsorships as they’re registering, at the crucial time when their interest is piqued.

Registrations and payments are easy to track and manage on the backend, so you won’t be scrambling to track down checks the day of the event or working out details on where and how funds needs to be allocated after the fact. It's all automatic with secure and reliable integrated payment processing.

 

Coordinate with the Golf Facility

Player information automatically populates into the GolfStatus.org platform so you can seamlessly hand it off to the golf facility. Ahead of the event, club staff can quickly and easily manage teams, drag and drop hole assignments, format and print tee sheets and cart signs, and complete other logistical tasks.

During the tournament, the event website displays live leaderboards, so players, spectators, and sponsors (both at the event and not attending) can follow and share scores in real-time.

To learn more about custom event websites and streamlined event registration (both of which are available to nonprofits through GolfStatus.org at no cost) submit an online inquiry here.

 
Katie CasillasComment