Guest post by Susan Fornoff
I didn’t want to play golf with the publisher at my newspaper. I’d heard he busted unions — and I’d been a union member for most of my career in journalism. Plus, he was several levels above me on the masthead, so how much fun could that be?
The answer — great fun, great networking, great experience, and even now, when neither of us works at the paper anymore, I know there’s a “just say yes” golf partner for whenever we happen to be in the same city. (We also happen to be friends, now that he has convinced me that he is not necessarily anti-union.)
I became the only woman regular in the Saturday golf game arranged by the newspaper’s editor, who often recruited as many as three foursomes to play. The first time I joined in, I was so nervous that I asked the golf course assistant pro for advice. He said, “You’ll be fine, just don’t beat them.”
After several years and many rounds, I disagree with that. Here are my tips for other women, who know by now that golf is a great business tool but are understandably reluctant to wield it:
- Always honor thy tee time. There may be a player in the group who runs to the first tee breathlessly. Do not be him. This is your opportunity to show that you are reliable and responsible.
- Look office-presentable, with hair styled and makeup in place. You are doing business, even though it doesn’t feel that way.
- Join in the bet, even if you neither understand nor agree with the terms, and play by the group’s rules. But play the tees that suit your game; if they are up front, you can still participate in the banter from the tees where others are playing. Once I played in a round where each player chose a different tee, and it actually made the day more fun for everyone.
- Be super-aware of keeping a good pace. My group let me know they liked the way I would get to the ball and execute my shot without a practice swing. And they knew that even on those miserable days when I couldn’t break 100, I would not hold them up.
- Be positive about everyone else’s game, your game, and about everyone’s work accomplishments. And have fun! Your goal is not to score but to be pleasant company, so that you score a return invitation.
If in the end you win money, even if it is only $3, you buy a round at the 19th hole for your foursome. And do not for a moment consider rushing off after the 18th hole. Now is the time when business might be discussed, and you want to be a part of that.