Golf Course Business Etiquette

By Brian Hill
What better way to solidify business or client relationships than 4 1/2 hours together in a beautiful outdoor environment.
What better way to solidify business or client relationships than 4 1/2 hours together in a beautiful outdoor environment.

It has been said many times that one of the best ways to determine whether you should do business with someone is to play golf with him first. Golf can reveal a lot about character, particularly how a player deals with adversity. A golf outing with business colleagues can be a great team-building experience, a chance to get to know one another in a relaxed setting--a long as simple rules of courtesy are observed.


Playing golf with your regular foursome of buddies allows you cut loose and be yourself. But when playing with business associates, it’s important to maintain good behavior. Golfers prone to displays of temper such as swearing or throwing clubs after a bad shot have to curb these tendencies. Whatever happens on the course will be discussed back at the office. Think about how you behave at work and take the same approach during the round.

Focus on Golf

The primary objective of a golf game with business associates is to have fun. It’s not about beating the other players, and it shouldn’t be just a business meeting in golf clothes. Leave the serious business issues at the office. Let yourself and your associates take a break from the stress of business and just enjoy the scenery, the challenge of the game and the chance to forge stronger relationships with the people you work with.

"Customer" Golf

If you are playing with a current or potential customer of your business, you may wonder if you should play your best or let up--even deliberately hit some bad shots--so the customer can win. You’ll have more fun if you try to shoot a good score, and if you have more fun, so will the people you are playing with. Your proficiency at golf can work to your advantage with making the sale. People enjoy doing business with winners.


Many golfers like to have a friendly wager on the outcome of the match. This can be a touchy issue when playing with business associates. Those who don’t like betting may feel pressured into participating and resent you for it. Losing money makes some people angry, which can carry over into the business environment. Unless you know the people you are playing with well, it’s best to not ask them to bet on the match.

Dealing With Poor Players

If you are playing with a colleague who is a really bad golfer, make sure you don’t make him feel inferior. Give him encouragement. Don’t make condescending remarks when he hits a poor shot. Never make him feel he is holding up the other players by taking too many strokes. Don’t offer lessons to business associates, but if one asks for help, go ahead. Showing respect for everyone you are playing with--no matter their golfing skill--is one of the keys to a successful golf outing with colleagues.

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