Posted by: Rolf | March 17, 2008

Golf and Business

 The percentage of executives in the United States who golf regularly lies somewhere between 80 and 90 percent, experts say. In the United States, there are roughly 26.2 million golfers with more than 45 percent of them between the ages of 18 and 39, the National Golf Foundation reports.

Those who know how to mix business with golf have found the greens to be a great venue to build relationships with clients, to expand contacts or to gain insight on potential employees. The sport of golf is popular with the business community because the slower pace of the game gives the players more time to talk and observe one another.

Golf is a very civilized place to do business because you are not sitting across a desk from somebody where things can be tense.  If there are specific issues you want to talk to people about, you’re in a comfortable setting, which allows you to do that easier.  By the third or fourth hole, it is inevitable that as you are waiting for the next hole to open up, they will ask about your business.

If I was approached with a business proposal and I wanted to judge somebody’s character before making a decision, I would invite them out for a round of golf.  A lot of emotions can come to the forefront on the golf course that will give you an idea if this is somebody you would like to do business with.  I would want to find out about his demeanor and his temper.

How quickly do they approach the ball? How many practice swings do they take? Do they put out a one foot shot or take a gimmee? If something went wrong, would he remain professional or would his bags and clubs go flying?  If you know what to look for you can make a prediction as to how a person’s actions on the golf course will translate to the business setting. Also, if you know the signs and what they mean, you’ll have a better chance managing your own.”

For instance, a person who approaches business situations cautiously may be more inclined to take their time on the golf course to consider factors such as wind and pin position before hitting the ball. In contrast, someone who walks immediately up to the ball and hits it right away, hoping for the best may be inclined to be a risk taker in the business world.

Golf is an honorable sport, but it also is a frustrating one.  Instead of locking onto one specific action, it’s better to take into account a number of actions over the course of the round.  Golf shouldn’t be used as a science, but rather as a gauge into getting to learn something about someone.  Sometimes what you learn is more than they intend to reveal.

The most blatant area monitored by people looking to build business relationships is whether the player is cheating. The thing about golf is you can use it to get such great insight as to what a person’s business ethics might be because the game has such a high level of self integrity.

See you at the first tee…

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