OK, you just received in the snail mail a formal invitation to join a business acquaintance for a round of business golf at a very, very private exclusive golf club known for its beauty and prestige that you have never been.
What do you do?
Well, if you are smart, which I know you have to be if you came to read my blog, you will formally RSVP immediately with a statement that has been calmed down but translates into “Duh, Hell yaw I will accept”.
Of course, there are those who are going to feel that accepting the invitation would come across as being frivolous with their business funds or feel it would obligate them to some business deal by accepting the invitation. However, those people who feel this way have other fears that go beyond the intent of the invitation and have lost sight of what the outing is actual for…business relationship building and trust development. For now, I will discount from this blog a review this particulate viewpoint many misguided executives have about golf and focus on the realities around the way an awesome round of golf can produce more than a fun and healthy day out of the office.
So, now that you have formally accepted you are set to go. You have cleared your calendar, advised your staff that you are out of the office that day and have delegated problems that develop for the day to be handled later or by someone else. What else do you need to be doing or thinking about to prepare yourself for this experience?
Of course, you are going to go back to reviewing who it is that has invited you to this exclusive opportunity. You will become versed in knowing as much as you can about the person and business the person’s business. In some cases, there is not much to do and in other cases, you may be frantically looking through your stacks of business cards trying to find the note you wrote on the card to remind yourself where you met the person.
Let’s take for the purpose of this conversation you have talked to the person a few times and even played golf with him/her at your golf club. This puts you on a balanced ground of knowing who the person is more than being just a near stranger.
Now, What Do You Do?
To most, playing golf in a strange environment is a natural distraction. There is that uncomfortable feeling of the unknown and the excitement of experiencing something that only a few people are allowed to experience. So being prepared is the best advice to dealing with the comfortableness you may feel.
The worst thing to do is to look out of place. If you have played golf and are in business then you have to be aware that many (if not all) golf clubs have an established dress code. Dress codes are pretty standard but just in case you may want to swing by the golf club’s website.
While you are at the site, you may want to check out all of the other information about the club. If the club is one of the few that do not have a public web appearance than a simple phone call to the club to ask questions would be appropriate. The information about the club might come in handy during your visit.
Once you have improved upon your pre-event comfort level, then the best thing to do is Relax. It is easy to say ‘Be Yourself’, but hard to do in reality when those natural instincts kick in. Once the round of golf starters you want to stay focused on the golf and not get too distracted like staring at the majestic views and landscaping instead of finishing your four-putt.
There are some courtesies and etiquettes to brush up on that you are not used to using to that could be embarrassing….like:
- Tipping: Some clubs do not allow it, but be prepared to at least tip the people who REALLY help..valet, locker-room attendants, bag boys and beverage carts.
- Formal Dining: Most of the golf issues are universal and will be dealt with as if you were at your own club. The concerning issues usually are part of the after golf gathering where, depending on the level of gathering, could throw you for a curve. Check out to see if there is a separate dress code for the dining room or clubhouse.
I was asked out to a round of golf at a clients private club and he mentioned we would have dinner afterward to chat business, but I did not pick up on the Dinner being in the main clubhouse where dinner jackets are required. Fortunately, my host had taken care of this by calling my assistant to find out what size coat I wore and had one brought in for me to wear. It was kinda cool to walk into the main clubhouse lobby and greeted by a friendly butler who helped me into my tailored made dinner jacket.
In other cases, I was told ahead of time of the requirements and bought my coat and left it in my locker or car to thrown on after I secured my golf clubs after the round.
There is a lot to experience at this level of a private golf club and usually a high level of business that will be obtained from this level of business golf. Just remember, when receiving an invitation to play at a ultra-private exclusive golf club the purpose is to be semi-casual in attitude and relaxed, but respectful to your host’s facility. If the day’s function or purpose was more serious in the business world you would not be playing business golf.
Business Golf is a form of business development and usually is used as an introductory season or as a customer maintenance tool. So, relax, be prepared and let the day unfold naturally. The worst thing you could do is be nervous and make your host feel you are not having a good time.
Things could be worst..you could have received an invitation to meet him in the corner booth at Denny’s….geez.
Let me know how I can help.