Cole Handley, the President of the Monterey Bay PGA Chapter, is the PGA Director of Golf and Director of Revenue at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, California.
In 2016, we used branding money to partner with Maui Jim Sunglasses to create a golf tournament where each player gets a pair of sunglasses with their entry fee. The Maui Jim Shootout, a two-man best ball tournament, has since become an annual event at Poppy Hills. Before a 2 p.m. shotgun-start, guests are treated to a luau on the practice range with a barbecue, drinks, games and music. This setting is exclusive to this event only. The sales representatives provide custom fittings for each player’s sunglasses. Additionally, the overall winner receives custom handmade Hawaiian oars engraved with their name. These oars have garnered attention as a unique alternative to the traditional plaque seen at most outings. The event started as a member-only event for marketing purposes, but was expanded to allow the general public access to this memorable experience.
We expected around 40 players for this event when it began. This past June, we sold out with 80 players. The original entry fee increased from $150 to $250 after the first year, which sells itself as it still falls below the cost of the sunglasses. The clubs profit margins sit at a comfortable 50 percent. The club also covered the cost of the making of the oars, which were ordered eight weeks prior to the event. We have a set in our golf shop to showcase the event year-round. Live music was added this year and I have thought about bringing the feel of a beer garden to the event this year to further the party experience for the participants. Of all of the feedback, the best response has been those who have chosen to come back and take part in this entertaining tournament.