While a sunny Friday beckons at your office window, you feel cooped up inside with a pile of work. If only you could be on the golf course: feeling the breeze; practising your swing and enjoying a cold one at the 19th hole. But the guilt you’d feel about leaving your in-tray until Monday, far outweighs the benefits of a little exercise. It’s time to start thinking differently about golf. If you change your perspective and play the game with the right mindset, it can be a powerful business tool that can bring you much further than your nagging in-tray.
The Game Of Fortune
In his book Deals on the Green: Lessons on Business and Golf from America’s Top Executives, David Rynecki explains the secret that many a successful executive has learned: golf can be one of the most powerful tools in your business briefcase.
“No matter how sophisticated the tools become—the email and teleconferencing, the BlackBerrys and Powerpoint presentations—golf remains the true communication hub of business.”
In fact, 90% of Fortune 500-listed CEOs play golf, according to the Chicago Tribune. However, whether this is because the game teaches certain skills that are valuable in business, or because it has simply become a fraternity for like-minded businesspeople over the years, is unclear.
Whatever the reason, the results are the same: golf improves your business game. In a study by Pompeu Fabra University, in Spain, researchers found that CEOs who are not regular golfers are paid 17% less than those who are, and for every stroke a CEO’s handicap increases, he receives 6% less in salary plus bonuses.
If money isn’t what drives you, here’s more motivation to pick up that driver and get swinging: golf is also a useful personality test.
“Golf teaches you about a person’s reactions in adversity, how they deal competitively with situations, because with golf there is such an easy mechanism to take advantage of the rules,” writes Rynecki.
“I’m not worried about their skills as a player, but rather how they conduct themselves, as golf, like business and life, will test you in a multitude of ways,” he says.
Golf’s challenge is to stay calm under pressure, think strategically and act gentlemanly even when you’d much rather repeatedly bash your club against the nearest tree, when your game goes south. It calls for competitiveness, focus and discipline; qualities that get you ahead in the boardroom too.
The Great Equaliser
Golf affords you the chance to conduct business without the pressures of the office environment. One of the virtues of the game is that people of any age can play. You wouldn’t want your 65-year-old client to have a heart attack while running after your squash serve, but golf allows him to do things at his own pace, and have enough breath to talk while he does so.
It’s the great equaliser: “[Golf gives you] the opportunity to spend quality time with like-minded people from all walks of life. No matter who you are or what you do professionally, golf is a real leveller,” says Ebrahim Matthews, MD of Diners Club, South Africa.
Even if you’re not Tiger Woods, ditch that in-tray and get onto the course for some practice. In golf, losing doesn’t mean losing out!