There's more to throwing a perfect golf outing than treating clients to a first-rate golf course. Classy events end with classy parting gifts. Don't count on making a splash with golf tees or towels with your company logo. We asked an A-list of golf-event planners to share their ideas for the perfect goodie bag. Todd Southard, director of Corporate Golf Professionals in Pebble Beach, Calif., frequently escorts small groups on red-carpet outings to big tournaments, such as the Masters in Augusta, Ga. Southard aims for gifts that move the needle on the "wow" meter. One winning idea was a replica green jacket similar to the one awarded to each year's Masters champ.
On another Masters outing, Southard scored with a visit from beltmaker Chacon. The company president personally met with guests and assembled for each a $500 custom belt from an array of silver buckles and exotic skins.
Jan Ferraris, founder of Outings on the Links, a Phoenix-based events company, likes sending guests home with more than one freebie. For an outing in Northern California, the former LPGA pro assembled a $300 foul-weather wardrobe, with a rain suit, umbrella, and FootJoy golf shoes.
For groups of serious golfers, Nancy Vera, president of Event Links International in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., suggests arranging an on-site visit from high-end club manufacturers including Callaway Golf Co. and Cleveland Golf Co. Company reps pull up in mobile equipment-fitting studios, and guests then test clubs that can be built to their swing specifications. Later, they get to take home a new club, for which the host pays at least $100.
Some planners will even arrange an outing to an equipment maker's testing center. Peter Jacobsen Productions Inc. in Beaverton, Ore., works with Acushnet Co., maker of Titleist golf clubs, on a dream trip that includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the company's test facility in Carlsbad, Calif. A few weeks after the outing, which includes a stay, dining, and golf at the Four Seasons Resort in Carlsbad, guests receive a custom set of clubs, shirts, caps, balls, and a personalized golf bag. The two-day Titleist outing, for a group of 8, is $98,000. Saying good-bye is expensive. But do it this way, and your guests will never forget you.
By Mark Hyman