Posted by: goalpath | February 15, 2010

Why Golf Is a Very Useful Business Tool

If you don’t play golf, chances are you think golf is a waste of time, a waste of valuable resources and basically a stupid game. For those of us who play the game, we have a different outlook on this centuries old game. For us golf provides an excellent venue for spending quality time with current and potential business partners. It also provides a great opportunity to evaluate colleagues, potential partners, potential bosses and any other business associates we invite to join us for a round.

To understand the point I am attempting to make here, I would like to talk about the core values of golf as set forth by the First Tee. The First Tee is a program set up to bring more young people into the game. The first tee’s mission is: “To impact the lives of young people by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf.”

The First Tee Nine Core Values are: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment. If you were looking for an employee, a partner, or a boss, wouldn’t these core values be critical to making such a choice? Of course they would.

I suspect a lot of you think golf is mainly about camaraderie, drinking and a boy’s day out. While fellowship and bonding are certainly important aspects of golf, golf is also about pitting oneself against the golf course and the hazards it provides. Golf is about honesty. Golf is unique in that it requires players to call penalties on themselves and keep their own score. You will learn quickly whether your playing partner is honest or not. It is easy to see if they take liberties with their score.

Golf is about integrity. Golf is a game of etiquette and composure. Each golfer is responsible for their own personal conduct and actions even when no one else is watching. Respect is another key component of the game. It is about showing respect for oneself, one’s playing partners, the golf course and the traditions of the game. Aren’t these qualities that you would hope to find in your business associates, partners and bosses?

Confidence and responsibility are core values of golf. Confidence comes from hard work, practice and achievement. All of these things are absolute requirements if one intends to improve their game. Responsibility is important. Golfers are responsible for their actions and behavior on the golf course. It is up to them to keep score, repair divots, ball marks or other damage to the course. They also need to maintain an appropriate pace of play.  Again, aren’t these qualities you want in your business relationships.

Believe me, you can learn a great deal about a person by their demeanor and behavior on the golf course. First, are they honest? Do they cheat or play according to the rules. Second, can they operate well under pressure and duress? A person’s true personality reveals itself when dealing with poor shots, bad breaks or other obstacles they might encounter.

Perseverance and courtesy are important. To succeed in golf, players have to continue to play through bad breaks and their own mistakes. It is all about learning as they go. Just as in business if you don’t learn from your mistakes, you will be bound to repeat them. Courtesy is all about being considerate of your playing partners and other players on the course. Just as in kindergarten and business, you have to play nice.

Finally, good judgment is key to success in golf and in business. Golf is all about strategy and course management. You have to know when to play safe and when to take chances. Good course management can go farther in shooting a good score than skill alone. How’s that different from business? Needless to say, you can learn more about a person’s integrity, honesty, respect, confidence, perseverance, sportsmanship and judgment in one round of golf than you will learn is a four hour business meeting.

Of course, if the person has never played golf before or just a few times, then all bets are off. Frustration will take away your looking glass and you won’t learn much. But if that person has played for a couple of years, then you will learn all you need to know about that person and whether you want to do business with him or her. Despite Tiger’s infidelity, golf really is a game of integrity and a great business tool.

What is you view on golf as a business tool? Do you think it is a big waste of time and just an opportunity for boys to be boys? Is it a game for life or just an excuse to get out of the office and drink? Inquiring minds want to know.

If you are a Baby Boomer and haven’t joined our community, www.boomeropinion.com, please consider it. It is free and only takes a couple of minutes to sign up. You can share your viewpoint and voice your opinion on the critical issues facing America. And if we recruit enough of you, we can positively impact business and political policies around the country.

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