Life In The Talty Lane: Golf Builds Business Relationships

Opinions, quotes and other pointless commentary from our publisher, Talty O’Connor

GolfGolf is not exactly a new sports phenomenon. People have been playing stick and ball games since before Julius Caesar invaded Britain. He was probably shunned by the British Open selection committee. Golf, as we know it, was “officially” created in Scotland in the mid-1400’s. They must have known they were on to something when King James II outlawed the game because it was taking too many people away from military training. They should’ve invited him to play.

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” —Plato

Mr. Plato was a Greek philosopher who apparently did a lot of thinking before he died in 348 B.C. I bet he would have been good at golf if he put his mind to it. It’s a thinking man’s game.

I’ve been playing golf since I was old enough to use plastic clubs to hit tightly rolled socks off the carpet into my sisters’ bedrooms while they slept. Their bed was the green and a head shot was a hole-in-one. My sisters didn’t exactly celebrate my early successes as much as I did.

I learned the sport from my father who was a championship level golfer with numerous amateur tournament wins. He didn’t exactly support my in-home course design and eventually allowed me onto courses with real greens, trees, lakes and bunkers. Friendships that developed as a junior golfer remain strong to this day, some five decades later. That’s the power of relationships built on a golf course.

Nowadays, golf and meetings are a passion for me. They go together like microphones and speakers. Where else can you put buyers and sellers together having fun and enjoying amazing scenery for four hours (or, unfortunately, longer)?

Our company hosts meetings and conferences throughout the country for our various magazines. We almost always offer golf outings which are geared towards building relationships. Here are a few of my paramount mantras for our golf outings:

Look For Creative Golf Opportunities

There was a time when the biggest problem for an event planner was how to find enough tee times. Those days are over. You have to attract the golfers and you want to run an event they’ll fondly remember. Make it special!

At a recent conference we held in Shreveport, La., we took all the golfers for an unexpected surprise. We stopped by 265, the David Toms Golf Academy. The group was treated to light-hearted golf instructions from Shaun Webb, the academy’s director of golf. Shaun is not your ordinary PGA Golf instructor. He’s worked under some of the best instructors in the game, such as Sean Foley, Hank Haney and Gary Gilchrist. Golf Digest recently named him one of the top under-40 instructors in the country.

Then David Toms himself came by to share stories and take pictures. For those who may not follow much golf, Toms is one of the most successful PGA Tour golfers ever, ranking 7th on the all-time official money list with 13 tour victories and a phenomenal 110 top ten finishes. He’s also one of the most likable elite athletes you’ll ever meet. Throughout our conference, our group couldn’t stop talking about the opportunity to talk and take photos with him.

Make The Golf Outing A Blast

Too many golf events I’ve participated in are stale scrambles. Shake it up, ask the local golf pro for ideas. A “Florida Scramble” for example,  has all four players hit a tee shot, then one revolving golfer must sit out on each succeeding shot. This not only mixes it up but also dramatically speeds up play. (I won’t get started on slow play, but it’s also a big issue).

Break Up The Cliques

Golf at events is about building new relationships. Separate the regular groups and strategically put buyers and sellers together. Trust me, they’ll thank you later.

Have Prizes For Players Of All Skill Levels

The traditional “longest drive” award is most likely only going to be won by the young limber-backs. Make it a straightest drive and everyone has a chance for that lucky shot. Same goes for the longest putt.

Well, you get the point. Golf is the ultimate networking sport and the perfect relationship building outing for meetings and events. Tee it up and enjoy!

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