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How to Conduct Business Golf on the Course

If you’ve been invited - or have extended an invitation - to play business golf, there are a few key things to keep in mind.  If you are hosting a customer or client, plan to arrive at the golf course at least an hour prior to your scheduled tee time.  If you plan to pay for your guests' green fees, being early allows you to take care of the fees prior to their arrival.  If you are the guest, plan to arrive 45 minutes prior to your tee time. 

Business Golf with a HandshakeMake sure you brush up on your game, the Rules, etiquette and lingo before the round so you feel comfortable playing business golf.  Be conscious of the Pace of Play for your group – if you keep up with the group ahead of you, you shouldn't have to worry too much about the group behind you.

Remember the goal of business golf is to create an opportunity to do business after golf – not a competitive situation in which you should try to beat your guest.  Focus on building a relationship with your guest by asking appropriate professional and sometimes personal questions.  Keep your discussion light and fun.  Wait until the round is complete to discuss business – only engage in business discussion if your guest initiates the conversation.  

If you have played the course prior to your round with your guest, share information regarding yardage, hole layout, hazards and obstacles.  Anything you can do to help your guests and make them feel welcome will help you when it’s time to discuss business.  If you have not played the course, ask if yardage books are available in the golf shop and purchase them for the group.

Avoid talking about business too much and don’t get into a disagreement with your guest.  Do some research beforehand to learn about your customer or client’s golf ability so you'll avoid playing a course or set of tees that are too challenging for everyone to enjoy.  If the client or customer insists on placing a friendly wager, be sure to pay promptly if you lose and be a gracious winner, if you win.

End your round with a handshake and offer to meet your playing partners in the clubhouse for a beverage or meal.  Now that you've impressed your guest with your professionalism and pleasant personality, it's time to approach the business conversation over lunch or dinner.  Be sure to ask your guest for a formal meeting to discuss your goals for business in greater detail.  Exchange business cards and make sure to keep some in your golf bag so they are easily available.  Enjoy your time together and look forward to doing business together.