I am asked frequently what are some of the things people should not do when playing golf with a business associate.
This includes playing golf with complete strangers, potential clients/customers, the Bosses, Peers, Employees or venders. I would be safe in saying just about anyone you play golf with you should remember these 10 Deadly Sins to Business Golf.
Many of the Deadly Sins seem to be controversial to some golfers since it goes against what they think golf is all about. However, these ‘Sins’ are actual issues that came up during my studies of effective ways of using golf as a business tool and were the reasons why the business deal that the golf outing was used to start or build towards did not happen. So, all of the sins are based on statistics on if they work or not…these were proven Not To Work in MOST situations.
The fact remains nothing will kill a business relationship faster than committing any of these sins of business golf. You can scoff at any of them as being part of golf, which for recreational golf could be true. However, for business golf, you are talking about your business’ image and reputation. There is no ‘letting your hair down’ in business golf.
10 Deadly Sins of Business Golf (These are not ranked in any priority or most or worst categories, but listed as ten of the things that will kill a round of business golf)
- Playing from the wrong tee
- Pitching a Deal on the course
- Self Centeredness
- Drinking too much
- Dressing Down
- Off Color Jokes
- BMOC Syndrome
1. Playing from the wrong tee.
Sometimes people forget that golf is a game of skill. Many times a gentleman’s manliness gets in the way of reality and this usually results in someone attempting to play golf at a level they cannot play. So to keep from looking weak in a round of business golf many guys will attempt to play from the back tees when they should not be even thinking about attempting.
What comes across when someone bites off more than they can chew and attempts to play from a tee box not set up for their skill level is a picture of someone trying to be something they cannot be, or do something they cannot do. In business golf this could impress your guest you are not capable of doing the job you say you can do.
The appropriate thing to do would be for the host to ask what the handicap or average score is for his guest then suggest a tee that fits the lowest golf skill. Many times the skill levels of the players do not match. The guest will be a single digit handicapped player and the host is not, or visa versa. This sets up a common dilemma which I have found is best solved by the better skill player playing at a lesser tee. However, if both are willing to play from different tees that is acceptable as long as it does not effect pace of play. Just do not try to move to the back tees if you are not capable of playing from there.
Geez, if there is a sure fire deal killer it is pulling out a Cigar during a round of golf. No matter what the fashion experts and popular media have to say about cigar smoking on the golf course it has absolutely no place in Business Golf. This usually contradicts what people feel business golf should be all about. That picture that is painted in a person’s mind that golf is the perfect place to smoke a cigar since it is outside is a total misnomer. Statistically cigar usage on the golf course( or anywhere for that matter)hinders the business relationship that is being built from a round of golf. There is an 89% rate of failure to making a business connection in rounds where cigars were smoked.
So the action of buying everyone an expensive cigar really does not work as well as you may think. If you are the host offering a cigar is a major sin. If the guest pulls out a stogie then the host should ask politely for them not to smoke it while playing. If this effects the business deal, then it is good to get that out of the way right away. This shows that if the person is not considerate of those playing or who invited him to play golf, to not smoke cigars during or after the round it is proven that same lack of consideration will be displayed when the business deal is struck.
As far as recreational cigar smoking..I am not sure there is such a thing, but this is the land of the Free, so if that is your preference then I am not the one to hold you back. However, a concern of the negative perception cigar smoking sends off to those outside the group should be noted.
3. Pitching a Deal on the Golf Course.
I am told by many that not using the round of golf as a six hour sales pitch is just common sense, but then in ten minutes I am asked if I can pull a deal out of my hat in the middle of the fairway. I advise my clients to stay away from talking any serious business while playing golf. Leave all the business talk afterwards where the environment is more controlled.
My studies have shown that when business deals and issues are discussed on the golf course they have a 85% failure rate. This means the time spent talking business on the course has an 85% chance of not accomplishing anything, especially a sale.
Self-Centeredness: I know you have run into these type of people. There seems to be more and more of them coming into the business world each day. These misguided individuals keep dropping names on who they know and keep the focus on what they are doing. The problem here is..they usually think nothing if it or are not aware they are making a bad impression.
Seriously, there are people out there who do not know how they are coming off with others. And there are even some who do not care, but yet still invite people out to play business golf. It does not matter if the person has a killer deal most people are not going to deal with the person that think only of themselves more than the person they are talking business with.
Fortunately these encounters with this type of person is not frequent but if they are encountered it may be a situation where a forced subject changes has to be pushed into the conversations. Someone who continually stays focused only on one side of the conversation will lead the person they are talking at to rethink any business deal.
I don’t think there is any need here to explain how cheating in golf comes across. Golf has a number of was to test a person’s true character. Cheating shows dishonesty. If cheating is blatantly done on the golf course there is a high probability that it will take place in the workplace.
Confronting a cheater can be touchy. Most of them are going to deny they cheated so tact is needed in the approach of bring the situation up. Sometimes it might be best to just right the entire experience off as a loss and move on to someone else who is honest.
6. Drinking Too Much
I think this one is pretty self explanatory. However many people feel this means no drinking at all. Having an adult beverage after the round is perfectly appropriate as long as it is not forced on someone. The Six Pack a person for each nine holes while playing golf will not lead to any business to be conducted.
Being late to a round of golf you invited someone to play is the last coffin nail to any business deals being struck that day. The socially accepted ten minutes late policy does not work in golf. If a person is not able to make it to a tee time on time it would lead someone to think they would not be able to hold up delivery of a business deal on time.
The 30 minute rule should be used in business golf. Arrive at least 30 minutes before the tee time. If necessary, if the tee time is 12 N..make the appointment for 11:30 or 11Am if you want to have time to get off to a relaxed start of the round. Just never be late.
8. Dressing Down
Many people today see golf as an occasion to relax and be casual. That may be the case for recreational golf in very secluded areas of he world. However, it has no place in business golf. Some people see dressing up for golf as being stuffy or snooty when it really is more about respect for ones self and the environment they are in than in the rules or regulations golf facilities place for the dress code.
Dressing for Business golf should be looked at as if you were going to a business meeting. This does not go as far as to say you should wear a jacket and tie on the course as was done back in the Bobby Jones era, but wearing appropriate golf attire is a most in the business golf situation. The first impression a person can give to others is the lasting impression. So make sure to dress more Up than down for business golf. If you look like a million then you have a better chance in making a million.
9. Off Color Jokes
This should be something your mother warned you about when you were growing up, but it seems there are a lot of people in business today that didn’t listen. Telling off color jokes or making remarks derogatory to some social or political opinion will close the door to a business deal quicker than any of the other deadly sins.
Be very conscious of the morals of the stories you tell or the jokes you use to entertain your guest…or host. Especially if the round of golf is a first time get together. Staying neutral on all issues is the safest bet and if pushed to making a remark on your affiliation to an issue then a neutral remark to balance your position on an issue should be made.
Remarks or malicious comments about anything could hit a nerve with someone and could result in a business deal going south. Stay completely away from the off color or controversial issues and jokes and you have a better chance of making a better impression on someone.
10. BMOC (Big Man On Campus) Syndrome
Nobody likes a name dropper or someone who wants people to see him as being important. These type of people who feel the need to impress upon someone who they know generally do so to pursue someone to think they are well connected. Whether they are or not is not the issue, but the way that comes across to people generally pushes a business discussion into a spiraling nose dive.
Take it easy, relax..if you are one of these people who feel you need to let someone know who you know in the business to improve positioning your self in the market, then there are tactful ways of going about accomplishing your mission rather than indirectly dropping a name in a conversation about who you hung out with on the yacht last week.
These are just 10 of the Deadliest Sins of Business Golf. I am sure there are more. Hopefully this will help you when you play your next round of business golf. Let me know how I can help.