Lessons From The Golf Course

I played golf with my Dad last month. You have to love any sport where someone 74 years old can still outplay, out finesse, outwit, out drive, and out putt people half their age. My Dad has actually gotten better at golf as he has gotten older. He is calmer, more relaxed, less concerned about driving far or making par, indifferent as to whether or not someone is texting him, and not likely to be irritated if the snack cart doesn’t find us until the 14th hole.

I love playing golf with my Dad and the rest of his retired friends. They make me realize that the joy is in the fact that 1) we are playing instead of working, 2) we are always going to joke, laugh, and of course talk about any current ailments, 3) it is socially acceptable to start the game with a Bloody Mary.

This last time it was just the two of us, and we were paired up with another twosome from out of town. The first hour was fine. They seemed like nice enough guys. The next 3 1/2 hours made me think about the value of spending lots of time with someone before agreeing to do business with them. It made me think about the value of playing a game with someone that I might consider adding to my team. It made me think about golf as a business tool in a whole different light.

My key take aways can be summed up pretty quickly. Here are some things that you might learn about someone after playing 18 holes of golf that you probably won’t learn in a one hour interview, conversation or business meeting:

they swear … A LOT
they make jokes that are offensive
they are likely to break valuable pieces of equipment
they lose their cool over very minor issues
they cheat
they don’t perform well under pressure
they disregard directions (really… how hard is cart path only?)
they are arrogant
they talk too much and have an opinion about everything
they can’t eat a hotdog without spilling chili

It’s no wonder so much business takes place on the golf course and much has been written about this topic. Of course you have a chance to build relationships, talk about potential opportunities, and negotiate contracts. But where else can you also learn about character so quickly? You truly get a chance to observe what people are really like versus what they want you to think or see off the course.

I am going to play golf with my Dad and his friends next week.I love that they always have extra balls and tees. I love that they can tell me exactly how far I am from the flag at all times, and that they give me advice on what club I should use. I love that they don’t mind that I am the only one playing from the red tee box even though it slows us down a bit.

Thanks Dad – for teaching me to how to appreciate the game, how to play it correctly and with grace, and how to play it without always caring about the score. Thanks Mike H. for igniting this conversation and making me realize how much we learn about people while trying to hit a small white ball.

LeeAnne Vaughn

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