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How to organize a Rally for a Cure charity golf tourney

By Cynthia Boal Janssens, Contributor

ESTERO, Fla. -- Today the women of our club are writing a big check. It is for $13,500 and is our donation to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The money was raised at our Rally for a Cure™ 18-hole ladies golf tournament held last month at the Pelican Sound Golf and River Club.

We are very proud of that amount, because this is only the second year of our Rally. However, it went so well for us this year (despite rain delays... more on that later), the committee members wanted to share "How to do it."

Founded in 1996, the Rally For A Cure™ with Golf For WomenR Magazine program has raised awareness of breast cancer and taken the life-saving message of early detection to hundreds of thousands of active women. Golfers at 2,900-plus clubs in all 50 states and three foreign countries answered the call in 2003 to fight breast cancer.

If your home course or golf club does not already run a Rally for a Cure™, we urge you organize one. All proceeds from the Rally are donated to the Komen Foundation and combating breast cancer is certainly a cause that all women will support.

So, if you want to organize a Rally, here's how:

• Pick a chairperson. Chances are that is going to be you. That's what happened to me last year. I suggested the Rally so I ended up running it. No big deal. It was probably the most rewarding thing I did all year.

• Contact the Rally for a Cure™ headquarters at (800) 327-6811. Information is available online at rallyforacure.com. You will be assigned a Rally number to be used whenever working with them. They will send you a registration kit and directions on how to hold a basic Rally.

• A basic Rally is just that: It is a simple closest-to-the-pin contest that each woman pays $15 to enter. The Rally folks will send you a hole prize. Each participant receives a Golf For Women magazine, a pink ribbon pin, a golf favor, breast cancer information and more.

• Our Rally is more elaborate. It is an 18-hole tournament followed by a luncheon. For this, you need a Rally committee, about eight people. They will arrange the silent auction, gift bags, luncheon, selling hole sponsorships, soliciting prizes and organizing the volunteers. You may also need a treasurer to handle registration and pay the bills.

• Meet early with your head golf pro to set the date and divvy up responsibilities. If your ladies schedule is already set, then it is easy to drop the Rally in on a mixer day when a lunch is already scheduled. Or work it into the new schedule as time permits. Generally, the pro shop will handle the golf tournament itself.

• Decide how you are going to handle registration. Last year our pro shop handled all of the registrations, pairings, etc. and ultimately paid all bills. Members could charge it to their accounts, but could only sign up 10 days out. This season, the shop was short-staffed, plus we wanted total control over the funds, so we set up our own bank account and opened registration months in advance. It saved our golf staff a lot of headaches and we could keep track of registration. Typically, if you are holding your Rally at a public course, then you will need to set up a bank account to handle the tournament. If you are holding it within your private course, you can opt to do it either way.

• Decide with the pro how many players you can accept, and whether you will only accept club members or if you can include guests or public players. While you may not sell out your Rally the first year, you probably will thereafter. We had 135 women and guests play in our 2003 Rally (on 18 holes) and this year we maxed out at 192 women on 27 holes, and had to form a waiting list. We had no guests because we were full with members.

• Set your fee. We charged $50 per woman (plus cart fees, if applicable). That covered the Rally registration fee, prize money, favors, banners and decorations. We allowed women to sign up as foursomes, as pairs or as singles. We had no trouble putting the groups together. We urged everyone to wear pink, and some groups dressed alike. Obviously, if yours is a public course you will have to consider adding a greens fee, or maybe the course will be generous enough to donate the golf.

• Open registration early. Because our club is seasonal, it is important that we get the Rally information in our newsletters and on the Web site so that all women members have the opportunity to participate. We began accepting registrations in November for our January Rally. The Rally filled up ten days before. Our treasurer gave the pairing lists to the pro shop and they organized the tourney.

• The Rally chairperson and luncheon chair should meet with the catering staff early on. Decide on a menu, but be prepared to change it if your numbers go higher than your anticipated. We also budgeted for small favors for each participant and a floral centerpiece for each table. The best place to find favors is to go to the many pink ribbon Web sites, like pinkribbongifts.com and pinkribbonshop.com

• Decide the tournament format. This year it was a fallout-scramble, with everyone driving. Pick the best drive, and then that person "falls out" while the next three hit the shot and so it goes until the ball is holed out. This works well because it moves a bit more quickly and one player cannot dominate the group. We had the pro shop pay out prize money just like we do on all ladies days.

• Solicit prizes. We printed up a flyer about the tourney and then sent ladies out to ask for prizes from neighboring businesses and those that operate within our complex. We then used these for both a silent auction and as door prizes. We recognized all donors in our printed program.

• Sell hole sponsorships. We did not do this our first year and discovered this year that this was the easiest way to raise money. We sold 37 sponsorships for $100 each to both businesses (particularly realtors) and to individuals who wished to honor someone with breast cancer. A local sign company agreed to make our signs for $10 each and we hope to reuse many of them next year.

• Have a rain plan. We had already agreed with our pro that if the tourney was totally rained out, that we would have it the following week. However, the luncheon would go on as scheduled. Despite all of our wonderful planning, we could not control the weather this year and so suffered a rain delay after about three holes. The pro shop came to our rescue, reprinted all of the cards, and after an hour-and-a-half delay we went out and played a nine-hole tourney instead. It worked beautifully.

• Just to enhance the day, and keep focus on the cause, we also had a speaker at our lunchen. Dr. Michael Hanus spoke about the developments in breast cancer treatment and research.

So that's it. It really is not all that difficult to organize a Rally for a Cure™ and so rewarding. Keep in touch and let us know if you put together a tourney this year.

For additional information, e-mail info@rallyforacure.com.

Rally for a Cure
P.O. Box 579
Ridgefield, CT 06877
(800) 327-6811

Cynthia Boal Janssens is a former newspaper writer and editor turned freelance writer. She is the former travel editor and Sunday magazine editor of The Detroit News. In addition, she has worked for newspapers in California, Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Ohio University.

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