To play golf you need to practice quite a lot, focus, look ahead, plan, fail, learn from your mistakes and try again over and over until you get good and win, that’s life and that’s business. It takes a lot of discipline to be a good golfer and the same could be said for being successful in business. Golf is a sport where you learn how to overcome obstacles and face new challenges after every decision you make, that’s why it’s such a popular sport around the world with more adepts every day.
Business is about people, and golfers say you can tell a lot about a person just by playing a few holes together. Getting to know the person you plan to work with is important, but that’s not the only reason why golf and business get along so well.
The Long-Standing Tradition
There’s a matter of tradition too. During the better half of the 20th century, golf was considered a “rich man’s sport”. It makes sense considering golf was pretty much limited to private clubs where you needed money and status to enter. The equipment required to play was also quite expensive. Being part of these clubs meant you had access to a lot of wealthy people, and everyone knows how important networking is for business. Not only that, a golf match takes a lot of time, and spending several hours with someone gives you the opportunity to truly connect.
It became a custom to play golf with co-workers, partners, clients, and friends to chat about important things: family, politics, and business. For decades the exclusivity of the sport was a synonym of a certain social status, and therefore, a way to determine your trustworthiness. Nowadays it is less about the status and more about the character you get to show while golfing.
Throughout the years, more and more people gained access to the sport. There are now public courses and ranges everywhere. Even the equipment is cheaper now. Nevertheless, it’s still associated with doing business whether you play it at the most exclusive golf club or on the nearest public course. That means it wasn’t just about being close to the money. The whole experience of a recreational golf match is so much more than just beating your opponent. It’s also about getting closer to people while breaking the ice, having fun, and relaxing. It provides the ideal atmosphere to talk about everything without pressure.
Why Do Businesspeople Tend to Play Golf?
The business world is filled with noise, movement, stress, traffic, meetings, and phone calls. It can be too much sometimes. It’s paramount to have a hobby, and golf is an excellent choice for a number of reasons. It’s an outdoor activity where you exercise, clear your mind, and spend quality time with select people. All of this in a serene and peaceful setting.
There are a few other activities where you can achieve all of this, and the best part is that you are ultimately competing with yourself. That means you can have a friendly match of golf with people of different skill levels and still have a good time while building relationships.
Getting invited or inviting someone to a golf match is not a small thing, not only for the number of hours you’ll have to commit but for the whole symbolism surrounding the event. The average round of golf takes 4 hours. This is more than enough to get a good glimpse at someone’s personality. You are watching them face a new challenge after every strike, making decisions, winning, and losing.
Is Taking Up Golf for Business Reasons Worth It?
Unfortunately, the answer is “it depends”. You’ll have to consider it takes many hours of practice to be able to handle yourself on a golf course. Not to mention the cost of the equipment and membership (or course fees). Surely you can start at the range, where you can rent different clubs and improve your swing, but the learning curve is steep. If you are thinking about taking up golf and you’ve never played before, you are probably going to need a few lessons.
If you are willing to put in the hours and get your own clubs, there are plenty of benefits to make it worth your while.
- Networking: It doesn’t matter what your line of work is, you can find a perfect match at a golf course. The second-best scenario would be to connect with someone who can connect you with a potential client, potential business partner, or service provider. And rest assured that a connection made on a golf course is taken very seriously.
- Deal Making: The atmosphere of a golf course is always positive and makes people more open receptive. You can have meetings in the office, restaurants or cafes, but spending 4 hours playing golf with someone will strengthen the relationship. It’s an ideal set up to make a sales pitch, specially if you’ve been an excellent golf partner. If that’s not enough, the post-match drinks or lunch is almost a given, so you’ll get another chance to close the deal.
- Social Aspect: Golf is seen world wide as a synonym of success and status. It doesn’t mean that everyone who plays the sport has made it in life, but it certainly points you in the right direction. The main reason being you will probably be near successful people at some point. There’s also a special respect for golf that makes you want to take it seriously. For that reason you will probably try and be a better person at the golf course.
Are Business Decisions Made on The Golf Course?
Yes, all the time. Golfing with business partners is a great way to bond and put aside animosity to make decisions or get a deal done. You’ll learn a lot about someone’s character and personality on the golf course. This helps coworkers or business partners come together to move the business forward.
Plus, you can think more clearly away from the stress of the office where there are always a million things to do. The silence and tranquility of a golf course will help you meditate and reflect on important subjects. Ultimately you will be able to see the right path for you and your business.
That’s one of the reasons why golf is so important in the corporate world. Being a decision maker is a huge responsibility, especially if you are part of a team. Feeling overwhelmed after spending long hours inside, under artificial light, with an A/C, and surrounded by concrete is very common. Negotiations can take months and sometimes all you need is to take another look under a different light, with fresh air, good company, and a newly acquired perspective.
Golf is for everyone. People of different backgrounds, all ages, and skill levels can come together and have a great time at the golf course. Whether you take it up for business reasons or not, golf will teach you a lot of important things about life. It will take a while for you to absorb these lessons, but the good news is that you won’t even notice when it happens because you will be having fun.