Business and Golf: The Culture

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Golf has long been associated with the business world. There are dozens of different sports available for business professionals to choose from, so why has golf become the staple sport for business professionals?

Golf as a game is generally considered distinctive, in the sense that it has the unique characteristic to bring people of all ages and golfing abilities together. It allows business professionals to better connect and network with work colleagues, customers and clients alike. The golf course provides a relaxed and unstructured environment for individuals to integrate freely without the continual pressures of the professional office environment. For instance, the open environment of a golf course is likely to spur business professionals to initiatively offer creative ideas, which in a formal meeting or presentation they would be apprehensive to share. Some may argue that other popular corporate sports such as Tennis and Boxing could potentially achieve the same function, however as with any high-intensity sports, individuals drenched in sweat will not find it an appealing prospect to mix. With golf, individuals only spend a small portion of a four-hour game actually hitting the ball. Business professionals therefore advantageously have plenty of time to talk, mingle and discuss issues about business or otherwise.

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With golf, business professionals also do not have to be self-conscious of their golfing ability due to the exceptional handicap system. The handicap system effectively enables individuals of widely diverse abilities to compete against each other. For business professionals this makes the game competitively fun rather than just a taxing business ritual to ‘seal the deal’. In Golf (unlike squash or football) a 60-something CEO can beat his/her 20-something executive, yet the 20-something executive can happily look forward to years of on-course friendly meetings and dealings.

Another fascinating virtue of Golf is that it is a fine test of character. It provides invaluable business intelligence on the ethics and integrity of colleagues, customers and clients. Do they play by the rules? Are they able control their emotions? Are they attentive listeners and open to suggestions? In golf it is easy to cheat, an individual can move their ball slightly to a nicer lie when no one is watching. If an individual is going to deviously cheat like this, it is an indication that they are likely to take detrimental shortcuts when conducting business. Similarly, if a potential client is frequently losing their temper over missed shots – it could be a sign of their adverse composure and cooperation when things don’t go their way.

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Conclusively, Golf is more than a mere form of corporate entertainment. As shown by an academic study, which found that CEO’s who don’t play golf are paid 17% less on average than those who do. Golf is a true business staple which is not only easily accessible but also has the fantastic ability to foresight potential business relationships. The qualities a golfer displays on a course could correlate to their professional business attitude, behaviour and decision-making. As some may simply put it ‘their culture’.

Feature image: ArrowStudio/Shutterstock

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