Finally! Somebody is exploding the myth that business deals are made on the golf course. I’ve played my share of golf with customers, or potential customers. I’ve never understood how a deal could be made on the golf course without coming off like a total jerk.
I’ve always treated the round of golf like a nice social outing that should be enjoyed by everyone. I have also been treated to rounds of golf as a customer, and have never been “pitched” while on the course. Yet, every business magazine – usually in their special “golf issue” which is no more than an excuse for the magazine to get a free round of golf at some nice courses and a bunch of advertising – has articles about the huge deals that are closed on the course. Statements like these are just the tip of the iceberg…
The deal was worth millions to us. Sitting side by side in a cart tends to let one’s guard down.
— Joe Collier, president of Mainsail Suites Hotel & Conference Center
It’s a relaxed atmosphere where you can present your ideas with a slower approach.
Business author Harvey MacKay is one of the servers of the golf-course-business-deal Koolaid
Golf is a networking game par excellence. In what other environment can you see your customer for four to five hours interruption-free?
With gas and other costs climbing, home prices plummeting and the economy struggling, I haven’t seen a lot of budgets cut for customer golf. In fact, companies are checking out ways to get more bang for their golf buck. Companies realize that a lot of business happens on the golf course.
If you’re in business, you know the articles I’m talking about. Usually dragging out this lame quote by golf legend Bobby Jones.
“You can learn more about a man (woman) in nine holes than a lifetime.”
Now, come on… who buys into such a ludicrous statement? MacKay, Donald Trump, GE’s Jack Welch, Sun Microsystems Scott Nealy, and whole lot of other low-handicap executives.
An author even suggested that tying a CEO’s compensation to improving his golf handicap would be smarter than tying it to the company’s performance.
But because a low handicap appears to be a pretty good way to predict performance, Mr. Crystal said, corporate directors may want to give out stock options that vest only if the chief executive lowers his handicap by a certain amount.
Foolish nonsense, perpetuated because CEO’s and top executives want to spend a day on the links without feeling like they are goofing off. Business magazines know who butters their bread, so they aren’t going to dispel the myth. Executives are trying to rationalize belonging to two or three country clubs that may cost $50,000 a year+ to belong. If it’s such a valuable tool for sales, why don’t companies pay for their salespeople to belong to the fancy clubs and let the execs pay their own way?
Women are even taking up the game so they can “get ahead.”
“Women are seeing golf as an informal network to advance their careers,” said Carol Bresnicky, representative for the Executive Women’s Golf Association.
How sad is that?
But I found one reasonable voice in the silence that surrounds “business golf.” Mr. Business Golf says:
… you might as well step to the first tee box wearing a tee shirt that says I’m A Loser if your sole purpose is to pitch a deal during the round of golf.
Actually, Mr. Business Golf found me! He left a comment on an earlier post. No matter, I’m glad he’s out there setting the record straight and he’s now in my RSS because he’s a smart guy. We agree, right? So he’s gotta be a smart guy.
He says a round of golf can be part of a business deal. Use it to put on your best face, build a relationship, and make a pitch. BUT the pitch should be made AFTER the round of golf.
- And probably after you have let them win by a reasonable amount
- And after they have enjoyed the beer babe on the course
- And between the second and third rounds in the club house.
- And after you’ve paid off the big bet your client “won.”
No deals are made on the golf course. The deal was done before arriving or was done after leaving. The PITCH might have been made after the round. But the deal was done back at the office.
Why don’t I ever read about deals being made while hunting, fishing, playing foosball, shooting pool, playing darts, or tennis, etc.?
Now Mr. Business Golf will probably have something to say about my bullet points. Since you’re new here Mr. Business Golf, I have to include some snark or regular readers will be disappointed!