Doing Business on the Golf Course

Conducting business on the golf course

Spring is here and golfers are thinking about taking business to the links. What to do if you're invited to an outing, or to play golf with the boss? Leadership Center member 
Scott Millman, president of Bean Steel and founder of The Simple World of Golf, shares his insights for mixing business with golf.

Conducting business on the golf course can reap huge rewards if done correctly; on the other hand it could be career suicide if you make some basic mistakes.

Having personally conducted or witnessed many meetings both on the course and in the club house, I have had a close-up view of what works and what doesn’t; I am surprised at some of the things that go on. In a short blog it’s difficult to cover every scenario but we can cover some of the basics.

Golf can be a look into the soul of a person, and how you handle yourself on and off the course speaks volumes. The following are some general guidelines to follow:
  • Dress appropriately - collared shirt and dress pants or mid-thigh length shorts. Never wear denim.
  • Know the basic rules of golf.  If a situation comes up and you don’t know how to proceed ask your playing partners and abide by the decision of the group. Better yet, get a current USGA rules book.  Keep it in your bag and become familiar with the basics.
  • Always repair ball marks on the greens, rake sand traps, and replace divots.
  • Play ready golf.
  • NEVER EVER CHEAT! (What to do if the boss cheats…stay tuned for that blog in the future.)
  • Turn the cell phone off; or better yet leave it in the car.  Why take the chance of it going off by mistake? If you can’t be without it, make sure it is on silent and only check it between nines or if another opportunity presents itself and you are not holding up play or disturbing others.
  • All bets should be kept at a comfortable and friendly level.

Playing golf is about building trust and building relationships, business talk should be casual. If you’re invited to a private club, odds are your host will be paying the tab.  At a public course offer to buy drinks, lunch, etc. - it will be appreciated.  If you invite someone, obviously you’re paying. Even if offered, do not accept money from your guest. Drinking on the course is permitted if your host is drinking,   abide by the two-drink rule and never, ever, get drunk.

Play your best.  Don’t make excuses, don’t whine, or cry. You need to build credibility and trust. Letting someone win or not playing your best is transparent and may end up costing you.
Never offer advice unless asked. 

At the end of the round be sure to say thank you and shake hands with everyone in the group.

The golf course is a great opportunity to build relationships but it has its potential pit falls as well. If you have specific questions please feel free to email me, Scott@thesimpleworldofgolf.com 

If you have tips about business and would like to submit copy for this blog, send it to Jan Hubbard at jhubbard@walshcollege.edu.

1 Comment(s) so far | Skip to comment form

mom on March 27, 2012 at 01:20 pm

love the blog. you always were a great writer! and so smart. love you.

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