What are the rules for playing business golf?
Golf is an extension of the office for many businessmen. Salesmen forge lasting relationships on the links, while other professionals take clients out to thank them for past business ventures in hopes of more in the future. Getting a client out of the office and isolated for 4+ hours can be a huge benefit but can also be a nightmare if not done properly. Here are a few tips:
As the host, pick up the tab as soon as they get there to the moment they leave. Make sure to have cash on hand for when the cart girl comes around and your guest would like a beverage and peanuts. Green fees, tips, lunch, and beverages should be picked up by the host. The only thing the host is not responsible for is if the guest(s) wants a souvenir or shirt.
Home Field Advantage:
Schedule the tee time at a familiar location. You want to be able to give your guest an idea of what each hole looks like and be aware of any traps or hazards. If you don’t have a go-to course, try to get a practice round in before you invite your customer.
Don’t Let Business Dominate:
Remember that your customer is considering this a “break from the office” or a “getaway”. The whole ritual collapses if he realizes the invitation was to pepper him with business questions for 4 hours. Look for strategic times to insert business questions or wait for your guest to initiate business conversations. When business does come up, be prepared and have quick concise answers. Follow up the conversation with a joke or something off topic. Don’t spend the remainder of a hole expanding on your business proposal. Remember that this time is really to build trust and a relationship. If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business. Be observant. Take mental notes of his likes and dislikes. Make it fun and relaxing.
Be a customer-friendly golfer. If you are clearly better than him, don’t take your game so serious. If you are clearly a worse golfer, don’t be afraid to pick up your ball or take a drop to keep the pace moving forward. Don’t take your game so serious that you get mad and yell after each shot. Remember, you are not on the PGA, don’t expect to hit like professionals. If you have a foursome, try to match talent levels, this will get the competition flowing. The client will remember the game fondly and you’ll have that positive memory to work from.
Know the Game:
How you play the game somewhat reflects your character. Don’t cheat! If your customer pulls the “foot wedge” out, that’s fine but don’t be known for foul play. Remember, one of the reasons you are there is to build trust.
Not everyone reads the official PGA rulebook, but make sure you understand the rules. At the very least, understand golf etiquette.
Make sure you thank your customer. Remember that he is breaking away from his work and family time so be considerate at the end of the round. Use good judgment as to whether you should hit the 19th hole. Make sure to drive the cart to his car so he doesn’t have to carry his clubs from the clubhouse to the parking lot.