For decades, business and golf have gone hand in hand. The reason this tradition has transcended time is simple: there’s just no office equivalent for getting outside, riding around in a cart for hours with someone, and having fun while playing an esteemed sport.
No matter what industry you’re in or what prior experience you have with golf, you may find that the more involved you are with client relations and dealing with executives, the more golf comes up in conversation, and the more it is respected in the business world.
In fact, an estimated 90% of Fortune 500 CEOs play golf, and 54% of business professionals see it as the perfect networking tool.(1)
In this blog post, we’ll discuss:
- Why is golf so popular in the corporate world?
- Golf basics you need to know
- Hosting company events on the course
1. Why is golf so popular in the corporate world?
Before we get into golf basics or how to leverage the sport in business relations, it’s important to understand why exactly it’s so prevalent in corporate North America. It’s wildly popular in the professional community, with the admiration only increasing the higher you rise within the corporate structure. A favored benefit being the sport gets you outside and active without taking too much of a physical toll on the body. A 70-year-old CEO is not going to invite a prospective client out for a game of pickup basketball or to throw a football around. Golf is physically accessible to people of all ages and stages.
Aside from the lower physical requirements it takes to play recreationally, the pace of golf is perfect to get to know somebody. There is lots of down time both between shots and between holes. With the resonance of mother nature surrounding you, the course also provides the perfect atmosphere to let your guard down and relax a bit as you talk more candidly about your business, its needs, or what it can provide.
The way a person plays the game of golf can also give insights into what kind of business partner they would be. 50% of golfers agreed with the statement, “the way a person plays golf is very similar to how he or she conducts business affairs.”(2) If someone kicks their ball to a more favorable spot when they think no one is looking, or becomes enraged after slicing a drive, you may want to think twice about including them in your future business plans.
2. Golf basics you need to know
So you’ve accepted that if you’re a part of the corporate realm, it’s very likely that, at some point, you will get up close and personal with a golf course. If you’re already a bona fide golfer, this is great news! If not, being introduced to golf can be intimidating; hitting a little white ball 200 yards while keeping it in play as you progress down the fairway may seem like a daunting task. But you don’t have to be the next Tiger Woods to fit in and have a good time on the links with clients and coworkers. Here are a few need-to-knows that will keep you from making a fool of yourself and help you to be successful on the golf course.
- Spend a little time at a driving range before your outing. Once you take your first practice swing on the range, you’re going to be happy it wasn’t on the tee box with a high-level executive watching you. Go out at least a few times to hit a bucket of range balls and work on making consistent and accurate contact with the ball. Sometimes the golf pro there or other golfers walking around may have some good tips to improve your swing and polish your game.
- Familiarize yourself with golf etiquette. Nothing will turn a client off faster than showing up late to your tee time, talking during their backswing, driving your golf cart onto the green, or violating other well-known expectations of golf etiquette. There can be a lot to remember if you’ve never done it before, so click here for a more comprehensive list of do’s and don’ts on the course.
- Pace yourself while on the golf course. The weather while playing golf may be nice, but it isn’t always forgiving, and for there to be beers flowing on the course is quite common. A golf outing can be anywhere between three to five hours depending on the pace of play that day, and while having a few drinks to loosen up and lower the pressure of talking serious business is fine, the last thing you want is to embarrass yourself by going overboard. (Make sure to take into account the sun beating down on you for all that time and always stay hydrated!)
- Learn the lingo. Read up on some common golf terms and phrases. You should know what par means, the difference between a driver, an iron, and a wedge, what the front and back 9 are, and terms like fairway, rough, green etc. At least make sure you know these basic words so you aren’t totally lost when they’re mentioned in conversation on the course.
3. Hosting company events on the course
Aside from trying to woo a client or prospect one-on-one with a round of golf, your company may opt to host a tournament or charity event at a golf course. One way to approach this is as a sponsor. Is there a well-known tournament in your area or a golf outing for a good cause? As a corporate sponsor, your logo can be on display on things like banners at the clubhouse, signs around each hole, golf accessories like towels, balls, or tees, and more! Golfers, spectators, and important business leaders will be spending hours surrounded by logos from these sponsors, creating invaluable impressions throughout the day.
You could also organize a tournament within your company. Taking this route gives you total control over who is playing in the tournament and who the audience is. Allow your high-level executives to invite their most valued clients along for the round to keep up relations and speak freely about what’s working and what’s not. Or have some of your Sales Professionals invite prospects to golf with them and connect on a personal level. The ROI of strategically planned events like this will likely outweigh the cost of putting on the tournament.
Golf continues to be a staple for business owners, Sales Professionals, executives, and others in the business world. There are few avenues like it that can so effectively juxtapose the relaxed, laidback environment of recreation against the typical stuffiness of conducting business to present a perfect opportunity for establishing and enriching professional relationships. It can be intimidating at times, but once you have the basics down, you’ll be able to participate in rounds that allow you to network or even close that big deal! The game also provides a great opportunity for hosting events and tournaments, creating another dependable way to grow your business and increase brand impressions. Oh yeah, and it’s a lot of fun!
Contact us today to set up a call with a dedicated member of our team to discuss how to conduct business and network on the golf course effectively and take your company to the next level!