A young employee, fresh out of college and eager to conquer the business world, finds herself in an elevator with the CEO of the company. She musters the courage to introduce herself, thanks him for the opportunity, and is relieved when he turns out to be receptive and very kind.
So, as they go from the 15th floor to the 1st, she has the chance to ask him one more question: “If you could give me one piece of advice to help gain an edge in my career, what would it be?”
The CEO thinks about it and then answers, “Learn how to play golf,” before he wishes her the best of luck and walks out into the lobby.
When you think about it, that’s genius advice. After all, they say more business gets done and deals closed on the golf course (or the 19th hole) than in the office.
I’ve been covering a lot of “heavy” topics here on my blog lately, so today I wanted to lighten it up and talk about golf from a business perspective – in part because August is National Golf Month.
There’s no doubt that golf is considered the pastime of the rich and elite, with 90% of Fortune 500 CEOs regularly teeing off. (Studies show that executives who play golf actually earn 17% more income than their cohorts who don’t drive, chip, and put!)
On the back-nine, relationships are formed, introductions made, and there’s nonstop networking, all with a level of trust and bonding formed through the game they love.
No matter how unfair, so much of success in business is who you know (not just what you know or your performance). Therefore, running in the right circle could literally make your career and learning to play so you can get out on the golf course is one of the smartest ways to expand your career.
If you’re in sales (such as a Realtor, loan officer, financial planner, insurance agent, etc.), there’s no better way to meet with decision-makers, execs, and influential people.
And even if you’re not ready for the pro-am or celebrity golf circuit, there are probably countless charity, public, or fun golf tournaments in your area.
You’ll also find that people are relaxed and enjoying the serene surroundings while golfing, so their guard is down. By playing with friends of friends or jumping in to play with strangers better yet, you’ll have a couple of hours of one-on-one time to chat and get to know each other without distraction.
And after 18 holes, you have the perfect opportunity to follow up and stay in touch. There’s a never-ending supply of golf-related gifts for birthdays, celebrating work milestones, or just saying thank you.
Golf is also a game you can play for life, and it sure doesn’t hurt that you get some exercise walking the course (or, chasing balls into the woods the way I play!).
While golf has traditionally been an “Old Boys’ Club,” those antiquated norms are being challenged these days, with far more women playing golf in the U.S.
In fact, women now make up a significant portion of the 25 million regular golfers in our country. According to the National Golf Foundation (NGF), 24% of golfers who play a course are women, but 41% of off-course golfers are female.
In her book, Even Par: How Golf Helps Women Gain the Upper Hand in Business, co-author Adrienne Wax notes, “Outside the office, you can communicate differently with your higher-level peers and get to know one another in a way that the office can’t provide. Being able to talk golf in the office gives you a chance to bond with the bigwigs. If you can talk about golf, suddenly you have reasons to talk with the CEO.”
Even if you’re just picking up clubs and learning the game, it’s still fun (and lucrative) to start on the public course, hit the driving range a couple of times per week over lunch hour or after work, and take lessons. You’ll find that your network and your career growth blossom as your golf game improves!
Now, since we have the business talk out of the way, I wanted to leave you with 10 fun and fascinating golf facts:
- The longest drive ever record was a jaw-dropping 515 yards. While teeing off at the National Seniors Tournament in 1974, English-American pro golfer and kinesiologist Michael Hoke Austin whacked the ball an unbelievable distance, as even a 300+ yard drive is considered a great shot.
- The first golf balls were actually made out of hardwoods like beech or box trees in the 14th century. Later on, they started crafting golf balls out of feathers packed into small leather pouches, but they were prohibitively expensive.
- Golf was actually played on the moon. When Alan Shepard, Jr. visited the moon on February 6, 1967, with the U.S. Apollo 11 mission, he pulled out a golf club and ball and took a one-handed swing, sending the ball soaring in the low-gravity atmosphere.
- Statisticians have calculated the odds of the average golfer hitting a hole-in-one on any given round at 12,500 to 1, but pro golfers have a better chance at 2,500 to 1.
While the odds of hitting two hole-in-ones in the same round are only 1 in 67 million, a golfer from Oakland University, Kassandra Komma, did just that recently!
- Is your game still a work in progress? Don’t worry, as 80% of golfers never achieve a handicap of less than 18.
- You probably know that a “birdie” is when you score one stroke less than par for that hole. But you may not realize the word was coined in the 1800s by American golfer Ab Smith, who remarked, “That’s a birdof a shot.” The term stuck.
- While the average golf hole is probably 300 to 400 yards, the longest hole in the world is at the Sano Course at the Satsuki Golf Club in Japan, where the 7th hole is an astounding 909 yards.
- The Tactu Golf Club in Peru is one-of-a-kind since it sits at 14,335 feet above sea level, nearly three times as high as Denver, Co. The game changes at that lofty altitude, as it’s hard to even catch your breath or think clearly if you’re not acclimated.
- The origins of golf can be traced all the way back to Scotland in the 14th century, although the Chinese had a similar game during the Song Dynasty in 943 A.D.
- Plenty of U.S. presidents have been avid golfers, including Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Dwight Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy. But Woodrow Wilson may have been the most dedicated Presidential golfer, as he sometimes played in the snow – using black golf balls so they were visible. Golf never stops! ⛳️