“Chili’s is the new golf course. It’s where business happens.”
– Michael Scott, The Office
While everyone’s favorite CEO, Michael Scott of Dunder Mifflin Scranton on NBC’s The Office, may believe that the golf course is not the place to do business anymore, many business professionals disagree and find business golf a very useful tool. Golf isn’t the typical networking tool and scenes with professionals standing at a hotel bar or a conference reception are much more typical, but business golf is all about relationships and not a 30-second “elevator speech”. It can actually be said that business golf is the “Original Social Media”.
Here are some benefits of using golf as a PR and business tool:
- It is a door opener: Instant common ground/equalizer
- Effective relationship builder: Uninterrupted time without distractions
- Builds and Reveals Character: Interviewing tool because you can learn a lot about a person on the golf course
Business Golf Stats (According to Starwood Hotel Group Survey):
- 45 percent say clients are more likely to give you their business if you golf together
- 59 percent believe the way a person plays golf is the way they behave in business
- 97 percent of executives view golf with a business associate as a way to establish a close relationship
- About 50 percent say you should wait until AFTER the round of golf to discuss a business deal
Ways to get the most out of playing golf for business:
- Know Your Purpose: Identify what you want to get out of the time together and what your playing partner(s) want as well.
- Plan Your Outing: Plan the same way as you would plan a business meeting, lunch meeting or presentation. Do everything in advance to avoid surprises.
- Interaction with Others: Focus on your business purpose. You aren’t there to shoot your best round of golf ever (though that would be nice). Check yourself at every hole – are you focused on your business purpose?
- Know Golf Course Etiquette: Your golf skill is secondary. If you know course etiquette, everyone will enjoy joining you for a round of golf. Examples: Know when to talk (and when not to talk), where to stand when others are making a shot, how to take care of the course, where to drive the cart, pace of play, cell phone etiquette (turn it off!), how to tip and how to dress.
- Have Basic Golf Skills: You do have a day job and the goal here is business, but a basic skill set is necessary. Here are some benchmarks: hit the ball at least 100 yards; know the basic techniques for putting, chipping, pitching, etc.; know how to get around the course in a courteous manner.
- Select A Course for All Players Abilities: Don’t assume that a woman golfer will always play from the forward tees or that men should automatically play the longest yardage possible. Especially for business golf, choose a course with multiple tee boxes and the yardage that makes the game enjoyable for all playing.
- Vive La Difference: In general, men do not talk much business on the golf course. However, women do. They are more prone to multitasking and therefore tend to talk more business while they play.
- Break at the Forward Tee: Men who are accustomed to all male foursomes, occasionally forget to stop at the forward tees for a female player’s turn. To avoid this faux pas, try to keep the cart with women players in the front position.
Check out the PGA of America’s website or the Executive Women’s Golf Association’s website to learn how to play the game of golf or hone your existing golf skills.