by Andrea Doyle | December 21, 2017
In an era where corporate greed dominates the headlines, companies that make the effort to give back are looked upon favorably. By getting employees involved in doing good, studies show their attitude can change about their place of employment and even increase their productivity. A company that cares about more than the bottom line is an attractive company to most. 

That spirit is aligned perfectly with charity golf tournaments. "Business is about relationships and one of the best ways to connect is over the passion for a cause," says Tami Belt, founder and chief storytelling officer, Blue Cube Marketing Solutions, founded in 2002 to transform the way companies approach communication strategy and community engagement.

Charity tournaments are typically set up in a "scramble format" where all players hit from the place the best previous shot landed. Plus, scrambles are comprised of teams consisting of players of all levels, making it great for networking. 

The Southwest Chapter of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (SWIAEE) hosts an annual Children's Charity Golf Tournament at the Monarch Beach Golf Links in Dana Point, CA every June that benefits California Family Life Center that provides foster family services and placement, job training, transportation services, short-term care, and housing for kids coming out of the legal system. Not only is there a golf tournament and dinner, but a Helicopter Ball Drop Raffle in which balls are purchased and prizes given for those that land closest to the hole. If one falls in the hole, the prize is $1,000. 

Eric Lohman, the general manager and director of game improvement for Monarch Beach Golf Links, leads an instruction for about 30 minutes at the first tee as lunch is served. At another hole, a beat-the-pro competition is set up where the player makes a donation to try to do just that. "This is a great bonding experience as you do good," says Anaheim, CA-based Sanjay Ahuja, senior business development director of brand experience company Freeman, who, as an IAEE board member, helps plan the tournament.

"Especially in this day and age when Millennials and younger generations are not playing golf as much, this is a really great opportunity to spend four or five hours with customers or potential customers," says Ahuja, who started golfing at the age of six, and has been playing for close to 40 years. "Plus, golf teaches life lessons such as values, focus, humility, courtesy, etiquette, discipline, and integrity." 

To succeed at the sport, Ahuja says it takes patience, skill, and practice. "It's a very mechanical sport that requires muscle commitment. Hitting the driving range two to three times a week is a good idea. This is similar in business, where you should spend a few hours each week improving yourself," he adds. "People do not give golf enough credit for health as when you play 18 holes you can walk three to four miles soaking up Vitamin D from the sun."

Another plus: a good golfer can play with a bad golfer competitively thanks to the handicap system. Plus, golfers of varying skill can play at different tees. 

Ahuja is such a proponent of the sport that he plans annual golf outings with his customers to celebrate successes and forge and build relationships. "It's an opportunity to spend quality time together," he says. "My mentor told me early on in my career that it's important to make my customers my friends and not my friends my customers."