We’ve all seen it in the movies.
Those savvy businessmen and women wheeling and dealing while enjoying a round out on the course with prospective clients or colleagues.
Most of the time it seems too good to be true and we’re left asking: can you really spend part or all of your working day cruising the fairways trying to make a sale, or network with other professionals?
In actual fact, the golf course can be a brilliant place to conduct business and maximise your Return On Investment ROI) with potential clients. You can build contacts, close deals or pitch new ones – all reasons why you should learn to play golf if you’re serious about forging a career in business.
Many times, what you see on the silver screen actually does happen in the real world each and every day.
Below, we list the 11 reasons why learning golf – and spending time on the course networking or unwinding from a long day – is a smart idea for you as a business person, and how it can be beneficial to your career.
Table of contents
#1 Get to know your clients
In business, getting to know your clients is essential.
What are their likes and dislikes? What are their personalities? What are their goals? What is their sense of humour?
Figuring out what makes your clients tick is crucial because it can help you deliver the best possible service or outcome for them, and build stronger working relationships and trust.
In the long run, developing such good rapport can lead to repeat business or sales, which is an ideal outcome.
Spending four or more hours on a golf course in a relaxed setting – joking about a few wayward drives and celebrating making a few long putts – can help break down some of those barriers and enable you to get to know your clients better on a personal level.
You don’t have to be Tiger Woods, but having some level of golf experience will ensure you don’t embarrass yourself on the course.
#2 Build relationships with your superiors
In the workplace, it can be sometimes be difficult building strong relationships with your boss or manager given the professional nature of the office environment.
Sure, there’s the occasional bit of banter and chit-chat in between completing tasks, but you’re always on the clock and you can’t kick your feet up and completely relax without worrying if your superiors are watching.
The golf course, however, is a place where you and your bosses are equals – and it’s a great chance to enjoy a few jokes away from the office and completely unwind, and get to know each other better with the pressure of meeting KPIs and deadlines.
A few friendly skins games will soon give you and your boss some stories to bond over, and strengthen your relationship when you return to work – and if you practice enough, you may even earn bragging rights by beating them.
Now, that’s priceless!
#3 Network and make connections
Often, corporate days at the golf course involve professionals from many different businesses getting together for a friendly round, as a way to network and make valuable connections within their given field.
If you don’t play golf, there’s a fair chance your company won’t invite you to such events, meaning you could miss out on establishing some crucial contacts within your industry.
By learning to play golf you increase your chances of attending corporate golf days and meeting people who could help you further your career in the days, weeks, months and years to come.
But if you do get invited, make sure you’ve been getting in some practice at the driving range – there’s no worse feeling than trying to impress at a business golf event and topping the ball on the first tee.
#4 Great opportunity to sell
Sometimes in business to make a sale, or convince someone to invest in you, your company, or your idea, can take hours, days and months of persuasion.
An 18-hole round of golf can take upwards of four hours to complete if the course is busy, with plenty of time between shots, which is why it’s the perfect place to spend with potential clients.
The atmosphere is more relaxed than an office setting, you walk the fairways together and you can spend time bonding over making a few good shots, or enjoying a post-round drink or meal.
Throughout the day you can keep dropping subtle hints, and working on making that sale – while you might not close the deal on the 18th green, you will have made solid inroads that you may otherwise not had the chance to.
Building this solid foundation could then lead to a sale later on.
#5 Health and wellbeing
We all know work can be stressful, whether you run your own business or are employed by a company.
What better way to unwind after a stressful day or week at the office than a casual round of golf?
Walking the golf course can be extremely beneficial for your mental and physical health, with an 18-hole round typically seeing you cover upwards of 6 kilometres (3.75 miles) on foot – often pushing your golf bag in a cart, or carrying it on your back.
To succeed in business, you need a clear mind and golf can be a great way to achieve exactly that.
#6 Compete with colleagues
While teeing up a round of golf with your boss can be fun, it can never beat 18 holes with your work mates.
You may be reluctant to show your superiors up on the course, but there are no such concessions when playing against colleagues.
Whether it’s settling an office score, playing for fun, in teams or as singles, golf can be a great way to bond with your work friends and build those tighter relationships away from the stresses that being in business can bring.
#7 Learn how others behave
How people act in a professional work environment can sometimes be very different to how they act outside of it – and there’s no better insight into a person’s character than when it’s put to the test on the golf course.
Like the world of business, golf can throw unpredictable challenges at you, and how one navigates through those challenges – whether it’s with precision and calmness, or with frustration and reckless abandon – can tell you a lot about them.
Being out on the course with colleagues or clients can give you a unique insight into how they approach life (because golf is life, right?).
Are they conservative? Do they have a short fuse? Are they a risk-taker?
Knowing these things can give you a deeper insight into people you may not otherwise have known by spending time together in only a business setting.
#8 It’s for all ages
One of the greatest things about golf is that it can be played by people of all ages.
It doesn’t matter if you are 20 years old and your client or boss is 60 years old, or vice versa – you can both get on the course and, thanks to the universal handicap system, can both compete on a level playing field.
While there may be a generational gap in the workplace – your boss may have no idea what Snapchat or Instagram is, while you may not be familiar with ‘60s television shows – there is no such divide in golf, where the rules and etiquette is the same for everyone.
#9 It’s a good conversation starter
Sometimes in business, you, your work colleagues and sometimes your clients won’t have many things in common.
Starting a conversation can feel like pulling teeth, leading to dreaded awkward silence – and in that moment you’re left thinking: what can I say that will make this less awkward?
Well, if there’s one thing golfers love, it’s talking about golf with other golfers.
If, through general conversation or a corporate golf day, you learn that your client or work mates love golf just as much as you do, you’ll never have to suffer through awkward silence again.
Simply move the topic to golf and you’ll never run out of things to talk about.
#10 It’s a good metaphor for business
When you think about it, it’s easy to draw parallels between golf and business.
Both can be extremely rewarding, but extremely difficult; both will throw curve balls your way as things can be going along smoothly, then all of a sudden nothing will seem to work; and the more time you invest and the more you learn and apply those new skills, the better you’ll become at it.
Both can make you feel on top of the world when you succeed, or beat you to your knees and keep you there, if you let it, when you fail.
If you can learn to keep pressing forward with your golf game, no matter the setbacks, you’ll absolutely be able to do it in your professional life as well.
#11 It beats working!
Which would you rather be – the employee who doesn’t play golf and misses out on all those fun, valuable golf days; or the employee who does play golf and gets invited to all those same on-course get-togethers?
It’s a no brainer! Of course, you’d prefer to be the latter.
So, if you’re a business professional who is tossing and turning about whether to learn golf or not, do it – you might be surprised at how many doors it opens for you in future to progress your career.
So, to answer the question: should you learn golf for business? Yes! Without question.
As you can see, golf is a great way to meet new people in your industry, get to know your clients and colleagues better, close deals or pitch business ideas, and can be hugely beneficial for your health and wellbeing.
If you’re unsure how to get started playing golf, check out some of our other articles that can point you in the right direction and get you swinging like a single-handicapper in no time.