Golf and business complement each other. The lessons you learn in one can be applied to the other, either on the greens or in the boardroom.
Not only does a round of golf get you out of the office and into nature for a few hours, but it is the perfect environment for building and strengthening business relationships.
Even a solitary round or a game with friends has the potential to teach you important lessons that can be put to good use in the working world. Here are nine reasons you should be playing golf if you want to build a better business.
1. It is For Everyone
Wondering how you, as a 30-year-old salesperson, can relate to the 70-year-old CEO of that company you’ve been eyeing? Golf is the perfect way to break down barriers that may be caused by differences in age, gender, nationality, or beliefs.
On the course, none of those things matter. There is no advantage in being younger, fitter, or faster. It is just fellow golfers having a game, with respect for each other as golfers and business people.
An all-inclusive game such as golf, where beginners can play with pros and juniors can play with seniors, opens up channels of communication that may never come to pass in a business setting.
There is a reason great business relationships are built on the golf course and not around the water cooler, on the squash court, or in the paintball arena.
Business Takeaway: Relationships need to be developed across titles, tiers, and departments.
2. Face-to-Face Communication
In a world where it is becoming easier to do business without ever meeting and shaking hands, taking the time to physically meet clients and prospects indicates a level of respect and care that bodes well for future business.
That human touch is still appreciated, especially when communicating and forming relationships across departments and up the corporate ladder.
When you do get round to talking business on the golf course, it is in an environment that is free from devices and digital distractions. It is just you and your client – no incoming emails, phone calls, or notifications to take your attention away from the relationship-building at hand.
Not only is it a distraction-free environment, but you’re indicating that you’re willing to invest personal time and effort in this relationship.
Business Takeaway: Take the time to communicate with your colleagues, clients, and prospects face-to-face.
3. Networking Potential
Although golf isn’t a team sport, it has the potential to open up networking possibilities you may not find elsewhere. Apart from strengthening business relationships you already have or are working on, there is potential to develop new relationships that may benefit your business later on.
While brand awareness is important, we recommend using the golf course and clubhouse to make new connections and foster relationships rather than selling yourself. Get to know people for who they are and remember that in the corporate world, people do business with people, not companies.
But don’t only get out on the course with business in mind. Bond with others over the love for the game, be thoughtful in your on-course conversations and allow things to progress naturally and without force. Fellow golfers won’t often appreciate being considered prospects, and you may make a friend or two who happens to have future business potential.
Business Takeaway: Look for opportunities to make connections, even in unlikely places.
4. Develop Tenacity
Very rarely is their instant gratification in either golf or business. If you want to progress, you need to put in the work. In a world that values speed, multi-tasking, and rapid progress, perseverance and tenacity are underrated and undervalued traits.
The nature of golf means that, no matter how prepared you may be for the course, challenges await on every hole. It may happen that you have a great round from 1st to 18th, but more often occasions will arise to test your patience and mental strength.
You can’t allow a double bogey on the previous hole to distract you from the current hole. On occasions such as these, you’ll need to dig deep and find the tenacity to push through when your game isn’t going quite as well as you’d like.
The same is true for business. It is impossible to anticipate all potential hurdles, and when they do occur, you’ll need to be able to brace yourself, push forward, remain positive, and wait for your next opportunity.
Business Takeaway: Be prepared to put in the work, invest the time, and persevere.
5. Personal Honesty & Integrity
There are no referees in golf. Each player is required to keep their own score, and although you are playing with others, there is a tremendous amount of personal honesty involved.
Golf is a game of integrity. If one cheats, they are only cheating themselves out of an improved game and possibly improved relationships.
This kind of personal honesty also involves taking ownership of your mistakes. Not only does acknowledging your downfalls afford you the opportunity to learn and grow, but it can open the door to mentorship as well.
Business Takeaway: Remain true to yourself and be honest in all dealings. It will benefit both you and your clients.
6. The Golf Course Is Neutral Territory
Whether you are negotiating new contracts or closing a deal, meeting outside of the office can facilitate a smoother process. The boardroom has traditionally been the space where business is done, but moving to a less formal environment can take the pressure off and allow for concerns to be raised and further discussion to take place.
On the course, there is less of a sense of business hierarchy. There remains mutual respect, but the environment is more conducive to honest conversation. This is a good basis for business dealings in the future.
Business Takeaway: Meeting on the neutral ground can facilitate better, easier business.
7. Strategy & Agility
Before you tee off, you should already have an idea of what the course holds. Doing your research beforehand allows you to create a strategy that aligns with your goal and offers you the best chance of success.
While you can’t control environmental factors like rain and wind, you can adapt to the course. This may mean playing with a 9-iron instead of a 6-iron or approaching your putt from a different angle.
In business, strategy is critical. Understanding your industry, economic climate, and company’s goals will help align your strategy and put you in a position to be agile enough to adapt your strategy when the need arises.
Business Takeaway: Create a solid strategy, but remain agile enough to adapt.
8. Positive Attitude
A positive state of mind can be a valuable tool on the golf course and in the office. Within the workspace, optimism can drive innovation, motivate the team and encourage the development of solutions to potential problems.
Displaying optimism on the golf course when engaging with clients can offer a snapshot of the kind of working relationship they can expect when doing business with you.
It is important to find a balance between optimism and realism. Acknowledging obstacles is as important as being positive about overcoming them. It also indicates that you’ve considered all outcomes as well as solutions for these potential obstacles.
Enthusiasm is infectious and can help foster better working relationships within teams and with clients and prospects.
Business Takeaway: The right attitude can put clients at ease, increase team motivation and improve business.
9. Take Your Time
Relationships don’t happen overnight. It takes time to build trust, as well as to craft a brand that is recognized as being trustworthy. Your business’ reputation is the foundation upon which successful relationships are built, and time is the most important investment you can make to develop it.
Just as you can’t rush through a round of golf and expect great results, so you need to take your time to lay the foundations for effective business practices and successful working relationships.
Consistency is also incredibly important. When a client comes to rely on you, you need to be willing and able to provide them with solutions if and when they need them. Trust can’t be built without consistency, and building a reputation requires a time investment.
Business Takeaway: Effective and sustainable business strategies can’t be rushed. Investing time in clients can lead to large rewards in the end.
Golf and business can be great partners if used correctly. With an open mind and perseverance, you can improve not only your golf game but your business skills, working relationships, and success.
Whether you are already a casual golfer or you’ve never set foot on a course before, the game is more than just a way to decompress and spend some time in nature. Implementing a few of these tips can take both your golf and your business to a new level.
If you are already using golf to improve your business, you will know that a golfer always strives to improve their handicap. Keep learning, working on your game and business, and you may be surprised at what opportunities come your way.
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Jordan Fuller has been golfing and doing business for decades, with the two overlappings in many cases. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska, but has been fortunate enough to play courses all over the United States with high-powered businessmen. Jordan shares his love for all things golf-related at Golf Influence