Thursday, March 28, 2013

Finance on the Green - Business and Golf


We have all heard rumors of major business deals being struck on the proverbial "19th Hole" of a golf course with a firm handshake and a pat on the back. In fact, many movies in popular culture refer to such important transactions taking place under the seemingly serene backdrop of a verdant green golf course. Indeed, there is a great deal of reality behind such instances, and it proves quite interesting to examine a few of the underlying factors that make the game of golf synonymous with profitable business dealings.

The Gentleman's Game
It is first important to recognize that golf has always been considered a game preferred by gentlemen. From the modern-day roots of golf tracing themselves back to 15th century Scotland, it was the preferred game of the more "gentile" class, thus resulting in James II banning it; stating that it was a distraction from learning archery. As this game was frequently enjoyed by royalty, the connotation of more professionally-oriented players began to take root. This specialized "golf club culture" has since become reality, while royalty has largely been replaced by business leaders.

The Nature of Golf in Modern Times
Although our society is increasingly interconnected by the use of digital media and virtual communications, many astute businessmen prefer to perform careful negotiations in person. Golf represents a game that is played in an atmosphere with few distractions and where both parties can learn about mutual habits and reasoning. The fact these are ascertained under the guise of a game helps all those involved develop an innate understanding of such important character traits as competitiveness and motivation. Thus, golf provides an excellent analogy for real-time business performance. 

The Nature of Business
It should come of no surprise that business negotiations closely mirror a game of golf. Both players must observe the landscape, determine the best strategies to move forward and through mental alacrity and skill make educated choices that will determine success or failure. These methodologies directly parallel a round of golf. Furthermore, there is a healthy level of respect between players, much in the same way that those around a negotiating normally exhibit the same professional rapport. It is any surprise, then, that a "round" of negotiations can very much mirror a "round" of golf?

Statistics Do Not Lie
Some real-time examples can help solidify golf's role in the business world and how decisions made on the green can influence operations in reality. 54% of businessmen consider golf the "game of business". 48% of these executives view a game of golf as the ideal environment to make important industry decisions. 38% of professionals use golf as an "international language" to help break the ice as well as to bridge any gaps caused by cultural differences. Even 20% of the chairmen of the FTSE 100 are members of the same golf club.

So, it’s clear to see how a seemingly innocent game of golf can have a very real influence on the business world. As long as there are still wide open stretches of land and businesses abound, it’s almost a dead cert that this trend will continue into the foreseeable future.

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This article was written by Colin Knight, groundsman of Belmont Lodge.  Colin has worked at Belmont  for a number of years and has borne witness to countless meetings on his perfectly manicured greens. If only his swing was as good as his eye for a divot…