Chad Gilligan is the PGA head golf professional at Losantiville Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Building on the popularity of the par-3 contest each year at the Masters Tournament, we decided to hold one at our club, too. We call it the LCC Par-3 Challenge. We invite members to bring guests, spouses, children and new golfers to play in the tournament and begin enjoying golf early in the season. We usually schedule it to start at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday or Wednesday of Masters week, although we have had to postpone the date twice due to weather. We get the word out via email, social media and fliers placed around the club. We had 40 players last year, about one-third of whom were beginners or non-golfers. My two assistants and I were creative in setting up the course for the tournament, trying to make every shot an opportunity for success. For example, we made sure no trees were in the way and nothing was unfair. We used a lot of angles, such as downhill to the green – trying for a different look to each hole. We put players in spots they’ve never played from before. We printed out a sheet for every cart, explaining where a player should go when leaving a green to find the next tee box. Although our course is walkable, golf cars are used for this shotgun-start event. We use tee markers and irrigation flags to show where the tee box should be.
Our par-3 tournament has grown in participation each year for the three years we have held it. There are 350 golfing members at our club, and our goal is to have 50 or 60 players participate. We are considering moving it to May, as some of our members are still down south when we hold it each April. The fee for each golfer to play is $10, which adds $400 to our golf shop revenue. The tournament also produces extra sales at the snack shack. And the past two years, more than half the players stayed for dinner afterwards, enhancing food & beverage sales at our club.