WOMEN, GOLF & BIZ: PLAYING FROM THE REDS So, you’ve finally secured a foursome with your boss and an important client. You’ve got the outfit, the shoes, the clubs, even some semblance of a golf swing. You get out on the course and discover… that the forward tees are set 50+ yards in front of the white tees. Dilemma: the on-course quality time that you were looking forward to can all but be erased by this simple quirk in course desigN. This situation can get exacerbated by a well-meaning suggestion that you tee off first on each hole – this might be old-fashioned gallantry, an effort to keep up pace of play or just plain sexism. It doesn’t really matter – you are playing golf in order to interact with your boss and your client, to build relationships with both – don’t miss the opportunity.
What do you do?
First, decline to tee off first. Cite safety concerns – no one can argue that, because it’s true. You really shouldn’t be standing even remotely in front of anyone hitting a golf ball. Secondly, loiter on whatever tee the men are playing from. Take any opportunity to compliment a swing or a shot. “Good shot.” “Nice ball.” Even the occasional “wow” will suffice. If you are playing in carts, this is a bit easier to manage because you can quickly establish a pattern where the men tee off first, then you and your cart-mate hustle over to the forward tees. If you are walking, walk alongside the men as long as possible, then cut over to the forward tees. I’m not kidding. That’s why you’re out there. Don’t concede that opportunity to schmooze while you’re between shots. As long as you can maintain the pace of play, you are entitled to the full experience. And that includes maximizing the time with the boss and client!
WOMEN, GOLF & BIZ – WHAT ABOUT BETTING? Ugh. This can be tricky. It’s this simple. In golf, men bet. Women don’t. It really does split right along gender lines. This is tricky because business golf is about relationships. Camaraderie. Getting to know the person away from the office. And betting is a big part of golf for men.
Tricky part #1: you don’t want to be left out. Options? Keep the stakes low. Agree to participate, but not to get hole-by-hole updates on how you’re doing, money-wise. Say it interferes with your concentration, and you just want an accounting at the end of the round.
Tricky part #2: the only thing worse than losing to your client, and owing him money, is beating your client and having to accept a payoff. Suggestions? Again, keep the stakes low, so the dollar amount is insignificant. A quarter a hole should suffice. It’s the thrill of the game that matters to the bettor, not the size of the pot. If you lose, pay gracefully. If you win, encourage a non-cash payoff, e.g., “how about you buy the first drink, and we call it even.” This is particularly effective in corporate events where it’s open bar – no cash need ever change hands.
Tricky part #3: if you are really uncomfortable with betting, say no thanks. Be true to yourself – you can’t go wrong there.