PGA Tour Professional Redefines Golf Fundraising

GOLF FUNDRAISINGThis is the third of a five part interview with Mike Tait, a 31-year PGA Professional and the owner of Oswego-based SMT Golf. In addition to being a golf professional, Mike is a club manufacturing expert and his company SMT Golf has produced a number of top clubs for multiple Re/MAX World Long Drive Champions. Mike is also helping to redefine the golf outing business through SMT Golf Outing Services which provides entertainment and fundraising for golf events. You can learn more about Mike’s services at www.smtgolf.com and www.smtgolfoutings.com.

Chicago Golf Report: Could you describe your relationship with Ruffled Feathers Golf Club in Lemont and what kinds of these services – you have the “America’s Ticket” and the way you are bringing all these different sponsors together in kind of activating on that, much of it more efficiently than it has been out there? You also have your entertainment component where you are doing your events or your trick shot style stuff. Are you providing all those services to a club like Ruffled Feathers in their outings or what would be the 30,000-foot view of what SMT golf and your event service provide?

Mike Tait: I happened to be at Ruffled Feathers Golf Club for the Lemont Sertoma Golf Outing. We just happened to have my crew out there to run three holes and I just happened to be on the 10th hole which is right by the club house. We had our golf ball cannon on one of the holes which is something nobody else has and nobody has ever seen. We also had scattered flags on another hole with $60,000 in prizes.

I just happened to be dealing Black Jack on the 10th hole and they had a big corporate meeting up there in the golf club house and it was hot they were looking down and they saw us and we were just doing what we do, horsing around with people and everybody’s having a good time and laughing and they came down. I didn’t realize who it was but they had come down and they were watching what I was doing up there and we talked about the golf outing business.

I just thought I was talking to another golfer and 15 minutes later, it was Rick Deloach, Senior Vice President of Operations for Eagle Golf. He just happened to be in town and he handed me his card he said “We need what you do here.”

I said “Well, we do it everywhere” and I laughed. We were talking and he was laughing and people kept coming up on course because every 7 or 8 minutes, I would see another group; and he said that in the whole golf industry he had never seen anything like this.

Then he heard about the golf ball cannon on one of the holes and took a ride out there and he came back just in shock, he couldn’t believe the money that we were collecting for it. So, I came in from meeting with Lisa Lutz of Ruffled Feathers and I said “It’s a perfect relationship really. I don’t sell or compete with the golf courses. I help the golf courses to increase their value to the golf outing.”

In other words, I firmly believe that golf outings are looking for either a fancy golf course, but then they get hit with the price and then they kind of shrug their shoulders and say “Well, let’s look at our second choice.” Now, it becomes “Look, we want to play June 16th. Let’s find a place to play because everything is budgeted” and I really believe that they could go anywhere on June 16th but they have their list of preferences. Now Ruffled Feathers Golf Course or Blackberry Oaks Golf Course or Whitetail Ridge, which also happen to be Eagle Golf Properties say “Look, here is what we have” and hands them my tri-fold brochure.

SMT Golf Outing Services would come out, they will put on whatever games you choose, they have 20 games, you just check whatever you like, whatever you think what’s good, call them, they will talk with you about it, they come out, they give all of your players participation gifts, your players leave with $500 – $1,000 dollars worth of gifts, every single one of them and it costs you nothing.

At the end of the day, we give you money. We would literally pour a pile of money on the table. It helps the golf course. It will help a place like Ruffled Feathers Golf Course that now has another hook, another way to offer value to a golf outing who happens to be contacting Ruffled Feathers.

It doesn’t hurt that Ruffled Feathers Golf Course has a magnificent facility, but now it’s just a really nice add-on feature because now we do all the work that the golf outing committees and their volunteers can’t or don’t want to do.

Read Part Two of the series.

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Walter Lis

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

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