In 2000 I came up with a crazy idea to try to play the top 100 golf courses in the world before I died. I told Jan that she could go with me and we could spend the next 30 years on this journey. Now, she is not a golfer, but she loves to travel. So a plan was put into place. This was 21 years ago. I have played 63 of these amazing golf courses and it just recently struck me that the techniques I used to accomplish this is just like being a great major gift officer.
- I had to have a plan….research was required. These 100 courses are spread all over the world. Where would I begin? How do you narrow a big group down to an “A” list that you make your priorities? I decided to tackle Europe first.
- Over 70% of these courses are private so I had to research and figure out how to get on the courses. I learned that my networking skills were critical. Finding a connection to a member of a course took a great deal of time, and then I had to pick up the phone and call to see if they would invite me to be their guest….especially at courses like Merion and Pine Valley!
- It because imperative to learn the etiquette and history of each course before I arrived. In Japan you need to be prepared to stop after 3 holes, take your shoes off, and enjoy a cookie and sake. PS: This really screws up your rhythm.
- You have to be a good conversationalist. I very rarely played any of these courses with a person I knew. Sometimes even with people who did not speak English. I now have friends all over the world who brought me into their world for a round of golf. Each have received a handwritten note from me.
- I knew I had to be a decent golfer. I fluctuated between a 9 and 12 handicap. Many of the golfers I played with better than me, but I never was embarrassed by my game. Having confidence in my skills allowed me to enjoy every hole of every round.
- Celebration became a must after every round, a drink with a new friend, a golf shot remembered, another a step accomplished on the journey and the memories I have forever of a few exceptional holes…birdies on 13 at Augusta and 18 at Pebble Beach!
So think about this my fundraising friends:
Research, networking, etiquette, conversations, skills and celebrations.
Keep driving it forward!!…..