Around the world, golf courses have long been seen as playing a pivotal role for successful businesspeople and entrepreneurs. Golfing provides the ample amount of time to speak to one another and presents a comfortable, neutral environment outside of the office to get to know business connections and prospects in ways that a boardroom or a phone call simply can’t do. The game of golf also requires a level of ethics because of the nature of handicapping and personal scoring that can give insights into how your partner will conduct themselves in the business relationship. Because of handicapping, golf doesn’t require the same level expertise or physical strength that many other sports like football or cycling might require. There are even carts to take you from one shot to the next!
We’re incredibly lucky to have a collection of amazing courses in the Chattanooga metropolitan area that members of our firm love playing. From the oldest course at its original site in the state of Tennessee, Chattanooga Golf and Country Club, to the home of multiple national amateur and NCAA Championships, The Honors Course, our local climate is one of the best places in the country to enjoy the game. It’s only natural that we look for every opportunity to take advantage of enjoying the game that we love. As you hit the links this year, we wanted to provide you with a few of our tips to make your business trip on the course the best it can be.
1. Give a “Plus 1” to a client- While it has certainly been effective to simply invite a client to join you for a round, we’ve seen it be even more effective to ask them to bring along a friend for the game. Not only can this put your connection at ease by having someone else present to keep a conversation lively, it can be a great way to prospect for more business. It’s important to keep the conversation light and avoid private matters, such as confidential business and private matters that shouldn’t involve the third party. Also, take this as an opportunity to show your appreciation and make the connection feel welcome. Don’t make things uncomfortable by making the gift too large. Simply bringing along a couple of golf markers and a Koozie with your company logo can go a long way.
2. Make It an Experience- While we all enjoy playing our home courses, your clients will appreciate the opportunity to have a new experience. Playing a new course is exciting and can be a lot of fun for both you and your golf partner. Ask your home course if there are any reciprocal clubs in the area that you can play. If you’re playing your home course with someone who also plays it regularly, consider making the day a bit more special by finding out your partner’s favorite 19th hole refreshment and have it ready for them at the clubhouse. If your clients have children or grandchildren, ask them if they would like to bring them along to the driving range one evening to learn more about the game. Small steps can go a long way to making the round worth the time and money investment for both of you.
3. Play the Long Game- The biggest mistake that can be made when doing business on the golf course is trying to wrap it all up by the 19th hole. Some of the best advice we’ve ever heard is to “Play for the 20th hole.” Just like an effective golfer, a wise businessperson needs to know when to take what you can and leave the close for another time. Be patient with your prospect and have a plan to follow up with them following the round. A handwritten thank you letter delivered to their office the following day containing a message to follow up on what you discussed is a perfect example.
Enjoy yourselves this year on the golf course and don’t be afraid to bring along a business connection along with you. If you need any encouragement: recent studies have shown that business executives that don’t regularly play golf actually make 17% less than executives that do!