Improve Your Business Skills Not Just Your Short Game on the Golf Course
By: Tom Ward
I’ve been a golf professional going on four decades and it’s still hard for me to believe that there are people who have never touched a golf club. They have no desire to play and would rather endure major surgery than tee it up.
But in these tough economic times, people in business are looking at a number of ways to keep promoting their product line and increase their bottom line.
However, when it comes to golf as a potential business tool, they have got to find some alternative ways to interact with their clients, even if golf isn’t their game. Here in the Metroplex we are fortunate because every year we have two high-profile professional golf tournaments that are back-to-back. The HP Byron Nelson at the Four Seasons and the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial are both very prestigious events that are well attended.
If you’re not a golfer, let me give you some important tips that could add value to your company and perhaps you’ll see how golf could help your sales improve.
For example, when the HP Byron Nelson and the Colonial tournaments are in town, this is an excellent opportunity to use the golf course to connect with business associates by inviting them to attend one or both of the events as your guest. By playing the host, providing tickets to clients that you know enjoy the game, you will create goodwill with them without ever having to lift a club. Because it’s so mobile, golf is one of the best spectator sports. Walking around the course, you and your guests can enjoy the beautiful scenery and either discuss business or just pass the time of day while watching the pros play.
A costlier alternative is for your company or organization to sponsor a hospitality tent during the tournament. Your most important clients, or potential clients, can be invited to your private venue to enjoy all the trimmings such as a buffet and drinks. Yet another creative idea is to sponsor a valued client to play with a member of the PGA tour in the Pro-Am portion of the event. This is highly prestigious and, consequently, it can be expensive to land one of those coveted spots. But becoming a sponsor is an excellent way to get your company’s name out there during the week, since the advertising and publicity potential, both local and national, can be quite extensive. The networking opportunities abound during the weeks the PGA Tour stops in the area, due to the volume of traffic the two events generate.
Attending or hosting, either way, will create a win-win atmosphere when used properly.
I recommend that in order to avoid embarrassment, it’s important to at least become somewhat savvy with the golf jargon. You can go online or watch the evening sports highlights or read up on the hottest players, so if a conversation turns to recent events in golf you are familiar with the major players.
You don’t want to make a mistake like one of my non-golfing friends made a few years ago. After a round, there was a conversation going on between some guys at the golf course about the great golfer Jack Nicklaus. But my buddy thought they said “Jack Nicholson” and he started rattling off a list of his greatest movie roles – to his utter embarrassment.
Another very creative way in which you can use golf to promote your company is to hire a golf professional to give a demonstration to a group of your clients. I have done these types of outings for years and I can tell you from firsthand experience it’s a real winner. Everyone, no matter their handicap, wants some professional help on their game. Personally, I like to film the golfers swinging and send them a DVD as a remembrance of their fun golf experience.
These types of events usually have a seminar and lunch at the clubhouse for everyone participating. Outings like these are highly effective in creating goodwill among the invited guests who like to play golf. Helping them improve their game will go a long way in developing a lasting rapport with your clients. Remember, the reason you are using golf is to open avenues that might otherwise be closed to you in a day-to-day situation.
Golf can provide a great opportunity for you to bond and build a relationship with people from different walks of life. In my opinion, you can learn more about a person in four or five hours on the golf course than in umpteen hours of boardroom meetings. Golf reveals how we handle the good bounces, bad breaks and really difficult situations that expose our true character.
So, don’t rule out golf as a means to an end, even when it’s not your bag. Any of the above suggestions will work with resounding success if you give them a try. In the end, even non-golfers can use the sport to market their product and make effective contact with potential clients that do play the game. Give the game of golf a try, at least from a business standpoint, because you’re going to open more doors.
And you might be shocked at who walks in.