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Improve your bottom line by mixing bogeys with business

By Leslie T. Snadowsky

Doug Weaver, former PGA Tour pro and director of instruction at Palmetto Dunes Golf Academy at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, was playing a round of golf with a professional photographer and someone who managed a local hotel for a national brand. The two players hit it off, and the photographer was soon shooting photos of the hotel for the property manager. Now that photographer is approached by resorts around the country for his photos, videos and branding expertise. Talk about a hole-in-one!

Weaver said this type of networking success is par for the course when it comes to mixing bogeys with business. 

“Golf reveals character,” he said. “When playing golf with someone, you can sense ‘would I enjoy working with them in the same office? Would I enjoy brainstorming with them on business ideas? Can I trust them with my money and time?’ When you meet a golfer that you discern has integrity because he kept his score accurately or his index matches his play, then you can do business with him.”

Playing the angles

According to career and online recruitment website Zippia, the U.S. golf industry is worth $84 billion, and the U.S. golf course/country club industry had a market size of $26.1 billion in 2022.

“Since the pandemic subsided, there’s been a lot more business travel,” said John Farrell, PGA director of sports operations at The Sea Pines Resort. “Businesses bring in some of their best customers: they go to meetings in the morning, play golf in the afternoon and have dinner in the evening. So it’s a lot of fun.

“Golf is truly a game of a lifetime,” he said. “When playing golf, you can ride in a golf cart and be sociable and do business. If people want to forge better relationships with business partners, internal and external customers, invite them for a round of golf and watch how their relationships will be galvanized and strengthened.”

“Parties let their guard down when playing golf,” Weaver said. “It’s when they find common ground. Building trust playing golf leads to trust in the boardroom.”

Driving trends

Twenty-five percent of female golfers were new to the sport in 2020 and tried it for the first time because of the pandemic, according to Zippia.com, and 27 percent of new golfers are Gen Z, aged between 18-34.

“I’m absolutely biased, but it’s just such a wonderful game to be enjoyed by all different walks of life,” Farrell said. “It doesn’t discriminate based on age, gender or economic background. It’s just an all-inclusive sport that’s to be enjoyed by everyone.

“What’s wonderful to watch is when two people get paired randomly to play golf, they forge a relationship and become friends for life. That’s not all the time, but it’s more frequent than people think.”

The classic “play a round of golf” networking technique has worked for decades and, according to Weaver, is still prevalent along the fairway. “Golf is a social game,” he said. “And golf is self-governing. There are no judges or officials. Rules must be applied with mutual agreement, and a player’s integrity is exposed. Through golf we associate our brand with the passion of our client. Golf elevates our customer relationships and experience.”

Going for the green

“The pandemic has driven people back to outdoor activities,” Farrell said. “All of our resort activities are being enjoyed at high levels. That includes tennis, pickleball and biking. All recreational sports activities here at the resort are enjoying tremendous participation numbers.

“It’s true that you can learn a lot about a person by playing a round of golf,” he said. “When we’re interviewing young men and women to come to work for us, we like to have, at least, a nine-hole golf experience with them. You learn about how they face adversity and what their attitude is like: if they’re self-absorbed or if they’re selfless and if they’re able to stay calm and kind. You do learn a lot about a person’s personality.” 

Weaver’s on-course observations

Weaver has been consistently ranked among the Top 10 PGA teachers in South Carolina by Golf Digest magazine. He says you can tell a lot about how someone does business by the way they play golf:

  • Someone who says they are a better golfer than they are will most likely say their business deal is better than it is.
  • If a golfer gives themselves putts that are short but testy or they improve the lie of the ball against the rules, they are likely to fudge on their taxes or handle company money in a questionable manner.
  • If they trash talk their opponent, they will likely trash talk their business partners or co-workers.
  • If a person can’t relax on the golf course, they will most likely be uptight in the office or when conducting business transactions.
  • If a golfer causes subtle distractions or talks during your pre-shot routine over and over again, they will likely use the same gamesmanship in the office.
  • Fast golfers make more mistakes. Fast, hurried business people also make more mistakes.
  • A better golfer who helps a less-skilled golfer means they are likely to be a great business partner.

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