Golf as a Corporate Tool

April 26, 2007 -

It has been said, very accurately, that one can find out about someone’s true character, by playing golf with them. A student of ours, who is the CEO of a very large company, actually uses the golf course; to interview potential executives. His rationale is that, by playing a round of golf with the candidate, they (the candidate) will reveal, their true nature. He does not want someone to be to blasé about they way that they play (acting as if they don’t care), nor does he want them to be too intense (as if they care too much). He uses the time that they spend on the course to watch and observe their habits, how they respond to pressure and handle adversity, and how they interact with the people that they are playing with. Simply put, golf is the means for him to get to know that person.

The golf course is also a conduit for business. There have been thousands of deals brokered and alliances formed on the links. Companies use golf to reward customers and employees at outings or vacations at exotic locations. Another student of ours is a very high powered, oil company executive. She is constantly playing with clients and vendors on the golf course and is a much sought after as a partner for competitive events. One reason for that is that she is a 4 handicap and can drive the ball 240 yards! She is very quick to tell you that her prowess on the golf course never ceases to impress the people that she is playing with, and she very adroitly, uses that as business tool.

So, if you are asked to play golf, in a business environment, here are some DO’s and DON’Ts.

DO: Behave with good manners.

DON’T: Speak while someone is hitting or make practice swings in their periphery.

DO: Compliment the person you are playing with when they hit a good shot.

DON’T: Be overly effusive (comes across as disengenuous).

DO: Wear well presented clothes (tattered shorts and shirts with wrinkled collars do not leave a good impression).

DON’T: Dress like Rodney Dangerfield.

DO: Have a beer or two (but only if, you’re fellow competitor does, also).

DON’T: Get rolling down drunk.

DO: Watch where your partner’s ball goes and be attentive to how they are playing.

DON’T: EVER give them “tips”. If they need help with their game, leave that to a professional (if the tip that you give them doesn’t work, you will aggravate them rather than help them).

DO: Talk about things that you may have in common, or things that are of mutual interest.

DON’T: Talk about business; leave that until afterwards.

DO: Keep score accurately and play the game within the Rules of Golf. If you break rules and record inaccurate scores, you would not be a person who can be trusted.

DON’T: Have an excuse for very bad shot that you hit.

DO: Make a friendly bet: e.g. “let’s play for lunch”.

DON’T: Get into some complex gamble that escalates into too competitive of an arena.

DO: Turn your cell phone off.

DON’T: Throw clubs.

Common sense? Yes, absolutely. You would be surprised, however, how often, very intelligent people, leave their common sense in the clubhouse.

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