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Tiger Paw Classic: A Golf Lesson in Sales and Marketing

Golf is an exercise in sales and event planning for students at Clemson University.

For the seventh consecutive year, raffle items are being solicited, food and beverage sponsors secured and golfers recruited for the annual Tiger Paw Classic, a daylong, charity golf event that entertains its participants and educates the organizers.

Tanner Smith accepts a $15,000 check for Tanner’s Totes at the 2015 Tiger Paw Classic.

The 18-hole outing at Boscobel Golf Club on April 15 will likely draw upwards of 120 golfers. And, thanks to the efforts of about 80 sales and marketing students, this year’s event will hit a milestone, surpassing $100,000 raised since its inception. Proceeds go to a Clemson-related charity and scholarships for marketing students in the new College of Business.

“Everything about this event is planned and executed by students,” said Amanda Cooper Fine, one of two marketing faculty members who oversee students’ involvement in the Tiger Paw Classic.

“Sales program students must meet quotas and understand territories in their sales roles. It’s also a great lesson in communicating and provides students with experiences to share in job interviews,” added Cooper Fine, one of the founders of the event.

Eileen O’Malley and Peyton Finley, senior marketing majors, are charged with making sure the event is up to par for its paying participants. Supporting them in event management are about 30 students who tend to a myriad of event-day chores such has coordinating three sponsor-provided meals, stuffing goodie bags, raffle organizing, and selling mulligans, to name a few.

“The golf outing is a great exercise in teamwork. We need to coordinate with the sales team and make sure the left hand knows what the right hand is doing so on the day of the event there aren’t any surprises,” said Eileen, who is eyeing a career in sports marketing. “The success of our event in large part is dependent on sales and events staff keeping all lines of communication open.”

Students prepare silent auction donations for bidding at the 2015 Tiger Paw Classic.

Faculty member Carter McElveen oversees students who run the sales operation of the event, which last year alone raised nearly $23,000 for charity and scholarships.

“This is hands-on-learning at its finest for sports marketing and sales certificate students,” said McElveen. “It’s a win-win for students and others who benefit from the proceeds. Marketing strategy students organize and execute the outing and the sales teams are responsible for generating revenue. The tournament benefits charity and students. It’s experiential learning for the students, by the students.”

Last year, $7,000 went toward scholarships for marketing students and $15,000 was presented to the event’s lead charity, Tanner’s Totes, which was founded by marketing graduate and former Clemson basketball player Tanner Smith and his family. The non-profit uses proceeds from the golf event to send tote bags across the country to hospitalized pre-teens and teens undergoing long-term care.

For senior marketing majors Ashton Harvey and Brooklyn Baldacci, their roles as vice presidents of sales for the golf outing have been an enlightening experience.

“In a managerial role like ours, it takes more than selling skills. We’re heavy into communication and follow-up and certainly there’s more responsibility,” said Ashton, who along with Brooklyn, is an honors student. “This event has taught us both so much, but beyond that, it’s a win-win-win. To sell successfully, you have to believe in the product and we’re supporting a charity and scholarships. In the process, we’re also gaining valuable experience while providing a good time to those who participate.”

For more information on the Tiger Paw Classic, or to contribute to the event, contact Ashton Harvey, sales vice president, at .

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