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Essential Etiquette For Business Golf

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Creating and maintaining strong business relations is the foundation of success. However, it isn’t easy to get to know a client on a personal level within the tense office environment. Here comes business golf. It was once known as the domain of executive elites, but in the recent decade has become accessible for people who wish to develop and strengthen their business relations in a calm and comfortable environment.

Golf offers a window into the conduct, values, and personalities of others. This proves to be rather beneficial in business dealings as the behavior of a client on the course is a reflection of their business ethics and character. However, in order to ensure that business relationships are successfully built and improved, one must follow the etiquette of business golf. We have highlighted these below. We also have a handy Ettiquette for Beginners guide (Click the image below).

Etiquette That Must Be Followed (And Why!)

Etiquette is essential in making sure that the business relationships strengthen. It is important to understand the first basic rule – don’t opt for business golf if you aren’t prepared to learn the basics. This will only lead to embarrassments and deals lost. Here are some essential etiquette to be followed:

  • Always arrive before the scheduled time in order to warm up and get organized (This shows your prospective business partner that you care about punctuality and being prepared).
  • Remember to plan ahead and determine what outcomes you want from this event (This will give you a path to follow or steer the direction of the conversation. You don't want to plan every minute, as being versatile will help you throughout your round).
  • Switch off your smart phones, PDA’s, and/or pagers. (You may think your client will be impressed by how popular and "in demand" you are, but the reality is that this can backfire in a big way. Your client may think you are too busy to address their needs; or, on that same note, see that you ignore the calls/emails of your current client. No one wants that! Not to mention that is a rude thing to do anyways.)
  • Never make people wait unnecessarily, be ready for your shots. (This speeds up the round, which allows you to use your time more effectively such as closing the deal. Plus, it is a subtle way to show your potential business partner that you focus on the task and get things done quickly).
  • Avoid complaining or bragging about green fees or membership cost. (These are negative personality traits that will lower your value to your client/partner).
  • Avoid casting shadows or walking into an individual’s putting line. (This falls under the basic etiquette of golf rules that you should know before starting your round. The person you are golfing with may take golf very seriously, and little things like this can leave a bad taste in their mouth... Which can equate to no business or no next round of golf to close the deal!)
  • Always maintain a normal speed of your golf cart. (This is not the time to goof around, like when you are with your buddies on the course. This is an extension of the office when on a business round so you need to maintain a professional attitude and conduct).
  • Always dress appropriately. (Again, this is an extension of the office so you can't show up in your sweats. Some golf courses may not even let you on the course if you don't meet the dress code... Can't really close a deal if your golfing partner goes out on the round without you...)
  • Never cheat or opt for creative score keeping. (This is one I can't stress enough. In an upcoming post I will talk about this more, but basically, how you act on the course is how you act in other aspects of life. No one wants to do business with someone who is a cheat).
  • Don’t distract people by crinkling food wrappers, laughing, or loud talking. (This comes down to etiquette again. It is attention to details here and showing that you have respect for others).

If you are the one hosting, then ensure you follow the following etiquette:

  • Ensure you ask your client about their preferred time before your make the booking. (This is done so that it is the best possible time for your client, so that you can minimize distractions. It will hopefully mean you have your clients full attention and can get them to stay after the round for lunch. This will increase both the quantity and quality of the time you spend together).
  • When opting for foursome, always consider the networking opportunities, compatibility, and skill level of the players. (You want to get people together that should be together. This makes you look good, provides a positive experience for everyone, and can lead to more rounds of golf together. This means you need to find people that could potentially do business together, that think alike, and are around the same skill level so no one leave embarrassed).
  • Always make the payment for your guest ahead of time. Also ensure all necessary things have been arranged for your guests like meal reservations and lockers. (If you are looking to impress your golfing partner/client then you want the day to be as stress free and enjoyable as possible. Imagine showing up to the course, having a free round and a free meal. You would feel great and associate that with the person you are with, making you want to continue that relationship in one way or another. This round of golf is the potential start to a long relationship, so you want to start it off on the right foot!)
  • Make sure to confirm tee-off time. (This will make sure that you have everything correct. It would look really bad if you showed up at the wrong time or the course didn't have your reservation!)
  • Remember to send confirmation emails to your guests with complete contact information and directions of the golf course. (This shows your client that you are responsible and think ahead. It is a subtle clue as to what they can expect when working with you. Not to mention this will be a good reminder to everyone and will lower their stress about having to look up the information themselves).
  • Ask your partner if they want to drive the cart (This may seem like a simple thing, but some people just need to be in control. They will have a terrible time if they aren't in control of the cart. Asking can save you some pain in the long run, not to mention it shows you are courteous).
  • Try focusing on the guest, instead of winning the game. (The point of the golf outing is to gain business or build rapport with your client. You should be making sure they are having a good time and that they are stress free. The rounds you play on your own or with your buddies are for focusing on your game and being competitive, not here).
  • Request your guest to play first if they want. (Again a common courtesy that can show you think about them first).
  • Avoid gloating if your game is going good. (This is a negative personality trait that people do not want to be around. It can be the reason why someone chooses not to do business with you. We don't want to give them any reasons!)
  • Pay compliments. (Compliments go a long way. They make you feel good. They make you want to come back for more. They can make you think fondly of the person giving it. That being said, have I mentioned how incredibly good looking you are yet today?! I might have forgotten because I paying attention to that nice shirt you have on. It reminded me of the shirt you had on when you played that incredible round of golf!!)

It is best not to let your conduct became the downfall of a good deal or a relationship. This is the opportunity to create a good and lasting impression, as well as the perfect time to get to know your client. Avoid talking about business immediately at the beginning. Find a good opportunity and then make your case casually or better yet, wait for your guest to talk about business first. However, it is best to use this opportunity to develop better relations and build a rapport.

If you have some tips that I might have missed, let me know below in the comments section. I am always looking to improve, especially in this area. Plus, advice from someone as smart as you is always welcome!!


P.s. If you want to save some money when you take your business partner out for a round, you can BUY A PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP, and get a 2 for 1 on your round of golf. You are going to be paying for yourself anyways, this makes an easy way to treat your partner/client!

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Ryan S

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