April 10 is Golfer’s Day. Traditionally, golf has been established as a sport in which business people network, deals are closed and relationships are built. Because of the sport’s history as a clubby men’s game, women are still often left out of the deal-making as a result.
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But instead of letting the country club door slam in our faces, businesswomen and female entrepreneurs are well-advised to learn the game of golf, and not just to mingle with the guys. Aside from being a challenging game of skill and athleticism, golf is a tool for socializing and relationship building that can help businesswomen bond with one another and forge new ideas, ventures and deals.
Don’t be too proud to take a lesson. I’m not. —Jack Nicklaus
If you’re still not convinced of the benefits of golf, here are five reasons why golf is good for business.
1. Golf is a key to build relationships with your colleagues and superiors. “Golf is great to build relationships with customers, potential customers or people in your company,” says Adrienne Wax, co-author of Even Par: How Golf helps Women Gain The Upper Hand In Business. 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.
2. Being able to talk golf in the office gives you a chance to bond with the bigwigs. “If you can talk about golf, suddenly have reasons to talk with the CEO,” says Wax. It doesn’t matter if you’re not an expert or if you play as Tiger Woods, what is important is that you can interact through golf talk. Organizing a little party at your house to watch the Master’s Tournament? Invite the boss!
3. Lots of networking goes on while golfing. Leslie Andrews writes for Forbes Magazine that that game itself is not what matters—it’s what happens during the game that counts. “It’s the secret club. It’s the secret language. It’s being in the game, being where decisions are made. And that means being on the golf course.”
4. Golf is key for building relationships with people in other companies. Projects and businesses can develop on the golf course in a way that is more organic than in the board room. Casual but formal at the same time, golf allows you to demonstrate your character and seriousness with the leaders of other companies with whom you connect.
5. Golf is a good place to learn how to leverage relationships. If you learn to play golf, you’ll observe a lot about the behaviour of businessmen of different backgrounds and business cultures. Watching, listening to and learning from these interactions is more valuable than half the business classes you took in college.