Friday, Feb. 15 2013 8:52AM
By Toriano Porter
Ashley Backhus thinks she may have discovered a niche in the golf tournament planning world.
Backhus, a Lee’s Summit resident since 2008, is owner and developer of PlanMyTournament.com, a new golf course search engine website under development that she hopes will connect golf courses to tournament planners throughout the United States.
“The last stat I have is that there were 140,000 charitable golf tournaments a year planned in the U.S.,” Backhus said. “Not all of the tournaments that were planned were planned by people where that was their primary responsibility. The difference between what is out there right now – there are websites out there that rate golf courses but it’s more for people that are ‘hey I’m going to play on Saturday and I want to fid a new course.’ So, you’re looking for something different when you are a player then when you’re planning a tournament.”
Backhus, who has a background in event planning but is a contract engineer by trade at TranSystems Corporation, has golfed since age 14 and attended trade shows since age 19. She will pitch her wares Feb 22-24 at the Kansas City Golf Show at the Overland Park Convention Center.
com is one of my side projects that I would love to be wildly successful and what I could focus 100 percent on,” she said. “Currently I worked for a local engineering firm and that’s how I got involved in planning tournaments.”
The genesis for Backhus’s idea sprang from a bad experience she had planning a tournament at what she thought would be a good golf course for one of her clients. She described that tournament as “a disaster.”
“Last year I planned two on my home and the first one I planned, that was the inspiration for this website,” she said. “It was a tournament in Florida – we (TranSystems Corporation) have an office down there – and I looked on the website and found two of what I thought were great looking golf courses…we were on the fourth hole and I thought, ‘Man, I’m thirsty. Where’s the beverage cart?’
“From playing golf for all those years I assumed that every 18-hole golf course had a beverage cart and they did not, so we had to make sure we had a beverage cart going around. They kind of put a makeshift thing together but I ended up driving around the course in a cart during the tournament handing out (beverages) to all the people.”
Backhus said once live, the website will be free for anyone to search for a golf course based on search criteria including: minimum/maximum number of golfers; clubhouse capacity; food options; AV capabilities; types of carts; and golf tournament planner reviews. Only tournament planners with a registered profile (indicating they have planned at least one golf tournament) will be able to review a golf course, bringing added credibility to the reviews.
In addition to the search engine component of the website, anyone will be able to access monthly educational white papers about planning golf tournaments.
PlanMyTournament.com is focused on the rating of a golf course from the tournament planner’s perspective, not necessarily for an individual looking for a place to play 18 holes on a particular day.
“I think the idea is a great idea,” said Heather Kleeman, Backhus’s longtime friend and the director of sales and marketing at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in Denver. She offered Backhus some of the tricks of the trades she’s learned over the last five years in the golf tournament planning business. “Obviously, it takes a lot of time to get something like that started, but I think it will be a great resource. She has a lot of connections on the event planning side and she’s really working hard in making connections on the golf course side. Trying to make a resource of tournament planning I think is great.”
Currently PlanMyTournament.com is signing up tournament planners and golf courses to create free profiles, said Backhus, who hopes to unveil the new website later this year.
“Right now what I’m trying to do is raise money for the website while I’m developing it,” she said. “Also, I’m signing up golf courses to create free profiles and I’m signing up tournament planners to create free profiler. Once it’s live, all that data will be uploaded automatically. I know that there are a lot of start ups and a lot of people with great ides, (but) I want this to be successful and I see the funding for this being able to happen through selling featured listings on the website.”