Local Golf Business Helps Generate Over $5 Million For Charities

Podcast Mike TaitOur guest this episode is the founder of SMT Golf Outings, Mike Tait. You can learn more about Mike’s innovative approach to creating successful golf outings at SMTGolfOutings.com.

Mike Tait’s decorated career in the golf business has including time as a golf club manufacturer as well as being a golf professional for over 35 years. In his most recent venture, Tait is rewriting the play book for golf outing fundraising. Started in 2009, SMT Golf Outing Services has helped organization raise over $5 million for charity through his unique golf outing and entertainment strategies. Tait’s vast network of golf industry connections and his experience as a club professional have allowed him to develop a finely-tuned system that helps golfers, golf courses, golf events and the charitable groups that they support reach unprecedented levels of fun and fundraising through golf.

Interviewer: Walter Lis. Running Time: 40:40
Click here to download an MP3 file.

WL: So let’s start out by talking a little bit about SMT Outings, or kind of what you’ve morphed into. How many outings per year are you doing right now, on average?

MT: Just over 200 outings per year, 200 events.

WL: Okay, and within the past year, let’s go with that, or, you know, maybe even talk about since you’ve started, because how long have you been involved with outings now?

MT: Been a golf pro for 35 years, but started this full time 2009 after the passing of my mother, so May of 2009.

WL: And so that was kind of the catalyst for, when your mother passed away you kind of got an idea that you want to do a little bit more, and you saw that they, and kind of give back, and you saw that outings were a potential way to do that. And then it seemed like you had some pretty good success right from the get go.

MT: Yeah, absolutely. I supplied several people in other parts of the country with gifts for their outings, and I realized that they were just doing the same thing. In other words, they were handing out items to players on their one hole, and I was order fulfilling for those prizes. So, that’s what I was doing, and then I realized that they were doing the same old same old, and then, you know, that happened in my life, and then I immediately, you know, kind of sprung into action with my entire plan, which morphed daily, weekly, even to this day.

WL: Correct. Yeah. Because you’re always coming up with new ideas, and I want to get back to the point about that you were providing gifts for other outings, because I think that’s an essential part to the main topic of today, which we’re going to talk about in a little bit, which is the pledge outing concept. But the impact you make for these outings has been huge. Do you have a number right now as to how much money you’ve been able to help these outings with since 2009?

MT: Just over $5.5 million since 2009. We’ve given away several thousand vacations. We’ve given away well over $3 million in prizes and gifts. So it’s been fairly substantial in just five years.

WL: And I think the other important point to consider is that over those five years typically you have a pretty high retention rate in terms of when you do an outing, most outings if they continue they definitely want you back. Is that correct?

MT: Most of them do, but as I’ve said all along that, you know, my success, you know, SMT’s success is purely based on the golf outing committee’s ability to listen to me, or their desire to listen to me. You know, made up of volunteers, and, you know, God bless them. They do a great job most of the time. You know, I do have a very simple formula to follow, and if they follow it there’s a very strong record of if they follow these simple steps they do very well. But if they, you know, if they don’t, or, you know, if they don’t listen to a couple things. They’ve often questioned, well, you know, why?

WL: Now can you tell me, we talked about how much you’ve made over, nearly $5 million for these outings. How many outings? Do you know how many outings you’ve done since 2009?

MT: Oh gosh, no, I don’t know, hundreds and hundreds. I really don’t know. You know, indoors, outdoors, you know, church groups.

WL: So you’ve made a huge impact with these outings in terms of you start off, you’re providing material, you’re providing goods that they can give away at the outing’s trips, equipment, you know, all that stuff. And maybe we should explain how you can do that. Can you talk a little bit about your relationships with wholesalers, and kind of how you’ve established your network of your sources so that you can help these outings?

MT: Right. You know, being a golf professional for all these years, and I’m very lucky I think, you know, that I’ve stayed put in an area, so I’ve been able to formulate, you know, the back end relationships in my industry, the golf industry, for so long. But just realizing that, you know, the nature of people, the nature of golfers is that people are very giving, but it doesn’t hurt to grease, you know, to grease the wheels, if you know what I mean. So if I make it easier for people to give by giving them something in return it helps everybody.

And these items don’t cost me anything, so, you know, I’ll give away things like golf clubs. I’ll give away Vegas vacations that I actually buy, but I’ll give away comedy club tickets, $700 worth of free and discounted golf, I mean, just for being there. It doesn’t matter to me if they participate or not, you know. I have to thank them for being there supporting, you know, whatever group I’m with that day.

So, my whole goal is to increase the value of the participant’s experience for the day. So when they leave that day, they’re talking that they can’t just believe how much value was brought to them that day. I give the charity or the group or the corporation the ability to basically raise their fee, because I bring so much more value to it, and that’s, of course, all their money.

(To Be Continued)

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Walter Lis

Walter Lis is the managing editor of Chicago Golf Report, which launched in 2010.

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