Golf and business have been linked for as long as the game has been around. The Starwood Hotel chain ran a survey with the executives who stay at their hotels and found that 97% of executives use golf to establish a closer relationship to a business associate and that 92% of businessmen and women use golf to make new business contacts. Many colleges and universities offer golf lessons or course usage to business students at a discounted rate so cost should never be an excuse. Below highlights my top 3 reasons why every business major should play golf or want to learn how to play.
1. Bonding and Facetime - An interest in and basic knowledge of golf alone can be enough to move your friendships up the corporate ladder. Moving beyond shared interests, a round of golf together allows for wide-ranging conversations and bonds to be discovered and created. Because a typical round of golf lasts between four and five hours, it provides face time you wouldn't normally get in a business setting. A round of golf also provides a captive audience and an opportunity to sell your goods and services to a client.
2. Networking and Business Intelligence - It is possible to bond over mutual interests, but playing the game allows for unparalleled networking time with clients, prospects and colleagues, and even senior management. Although expanding your professional network is a plus, more importantly you'll learn about the people playing with you. Golf is a game that provides ample opportunities for the player to demonstrate respectful or upsetting behavior. If they play by the rules and have etiquette they are probably a respectful and good business partner. If a person has a short fuse, does not respect the golf course, or starts getting upset and throwing clubs, this might not be someone you want to do business with. Need to do some golf networking? Follow the Nextgengolf page on Linkedin.
3. Correlations between Golf and Business - Anyone in business who plays a round of golf learns that it is good to have a strategy and you get out of it what you put into it. Most golfers will realize aiming for the hole on every shot isn’t a good idea. There are penalty areas to avoid, slopes to take into account, along with other elements of the game. It's best to plan your attack for each hole. This is similar in a business landscape. You must collect as much information as possible about a particular situation and then map out how to make the most out of it. Your strategy should also be able to adapt to change but should not be thrown off if a minor detail goes wrong. If a golfer planned to hit the green and ended up in a sand trap, they need to make an adjustment. This doesn't mean they will scrap the round and go home just because of one mistake.
If you are new to the game and don't know where to begin, you are not alone. The most effective first step is to get a golf lesson from a PGA Professional and go hit some balls on the range. Group lessons might be the best option versus an individual private lesson when starting out. Being able to make contact with the ball and keep up with your playing partners is the first step.
Next, you should have a basic understanding of rules and etiquette. There's no need to read the rule book from cover to cover but doing some quick research on basic rules and etiquette will make play more enjoyable for you and your playing partners. Most importantly, keep it fun. Let your playing partners know you are a beginner and are out on the course to enjoy some sunshine and time with friends. Most of the time your playing partners will appreciate you letting them know and will be encouraging throughout the round.
If you are an active college student who wants to either learn or improve your golf game, consider joining your school's golf club. Club golf can be both relaxed or competitive, and most club leaders are willing to help you learn the basics and improve your game.