When golf enthusiasts arrive at the local Sea Island courses for the RSM tournament in November, it always appears as though everything has come together effortlessly. But that is, in fact, far from the case.
Organizers start work on preparing for the next tournament before the books even close on the previous year’s festivities. Scott Reid, tournament director, says the year-round project is always on the minds of those working with the Davis Love Foundation to stage its charity event.
“Before this year’s tournament happens, we’re already ‘selling’ the next year’s tournament. During the tournament, we’re talking to all of our sponsors and partners that are here about the next year then immediately after, ‘boom’ we’re following up, making sure they are recommitted for the next year,” he said. “The first four months after a tournament ends is all about revenue — getting sponsors recommitted and mining for new business,” he said.
Sponsorships are key. Without those, the PGA tournament would be unable to raise the funds to cover its costs as well as donate to various charities. And those donations are substantial. Last year, the tournament raised more than $2 million for nonprofits. Reid says that one of their greatest assets is a team of business people who serve as ambassadors for the program. Known as the Foundation Club, they are the unsung heroes who connect with sponsors both inside and outside the community, helping to secure that financial support that is so important to the event. Formed in 2010 as part of the inaugural event, Foundation Club members come from various areas of the business community. They advocate for the tournament locally and beyond.
Reid says the group is instrumental in creating awareness for The RSM Classic, recruiting and retaining sponsors, and encouraging ticket sales.
“The foundation has very small staff. This additional help from volunteer business people really helps our reach,” he said.
“They are able to help with their contacts from outside of the community and get them to come here to be a part of the tournament. Could we do it without them? We’d have to but we’re fortunate that we don’t have to do it without them.”
The group includes roughly 20 individuals, all of whom have a special affinity for the event and its founder, Davis Love III. Many of the members know the golfer personally and have been proud to lend a hand.
Reid says that many other charity tournaments have similar programs where volunteers help organizers find funding for their operations.
“It’s not uncommon for tournaments to have a group of ambassadors with ties to the community. Most of the Foundation Club members most know Davis from living here so when this tournament started Davis and the foundation went out to find some ambassadors to help promote the tournament,” he said.
“It takes about $2 million in revenue just to break even. We attribute about half a million or more of that revenue to the Foundation Club. It’s through their contacts that they help us sell sponsorships for the event and for the pro-am.”
While the tournament is a charity event — it’s based in business. Not only does that mean the business of selling sponsorships to corporations, Reid says the RSM also serves as an ideal place for networking and light-hearted negotiations.
“It’s essentially a business development platform for companies. You can either entertain current customers or clients or spend time with prospects. Companies can also reward their employees and team members by taking them to spend the day out at a beautiful place and a fun event,” Reid said. “That’s what we’re ‘selling’ the opportunity for businesses to use the tournament for business development.”
The RSM Classic will be held on from Nov. 14 to 20 at the Seaside and Plantation courses at Sea Island Golf Club on St. Simons Island.
Tickets go on sale June 1.