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Client Golf

Golf humorist takes a comical look at the game in new book

People often say to me, "I'm going to take up golf-there's so much business done on the golf course." I hate to be the one to break it to them, but business is rarely done on a golf course. Funny business, maybe; serious discussions about widget orders or leveraged buyouts, no. It's against the rules. Not the Rules of Golf, published by the United States Golf Association or the Royal & Ancient, but, you know, the unwritten rules.

To be sure, there's a lot of "client golf" played. That's a game in which you lose $20 or $30 to your client, buy him or her a couple of beers over lunch, and hope that the bonding experience you just shared translates into new or continuing business. Someone must say the word "business" at least once during the round, just to satisfy tax regulations when trying to deduct the day as a business expense, but that's as far as it should go. Someone must say the word "business" at least once during the round, just to satisfy tax regulations when trying to deduct the day as a business expense, but that's as far as it should go.

Client golf is like your short game: it needs to be executed with precision in order to score. For example, whatever you do, never say, "So, Bobby, what can I do to get that widget order this year?"-particularly when Bobby is lining up his fourth putt for triple bogey.
Here are a few other keys to success when playing client golf:

  1. If possible, never defeat your client. The caveat here is that if your client is a particularly miserable golfer, then losing to him or her might also be bad for business. In this circumstance, go ahead and win, but not by too much.
  2. Never take money from your client on the golf course, even if you've made the mistake of winning. Pay for drinks and lunch. And if you are fortunate enough to have lost all the bets, pay quickly. Fast pay makes fast friends.
  3. Take your guest to play someplace nice-but not too nice. You don't want to give the impression that you're wasting money. After all, the client will be paying you money. (And if you're the one driving to the course, don't arrive in a nicer car than the client's.)
  4. Keep your demeanor civilized. Don't swear, throw clubs, or complain about drives 240 yards down the middle. Remember the saying, "Eighteen holes of match or medal play will teach you more about your foe than 18 years of dealing with him or her across a desk."
  5. Applaud your client's good shots, but don't lay it on too thick.
  6. Win a hole or two so it doesn't look like you're purposely tanking the match.
  7. Don't drink too much and start flirting with the cart girl or boy.
  8. If you're keeping the score, always suggest par when asking what your client shot: "Three, wasn't it, Bobby?"
  9. If you catch your client in a lie-"Yep, a three, Bill"-then watch your back in business dealings. (See rule 4.)
  10. On the 18th green, always shake hands and say, "Great match. I look forward to playing again sometime," even if you have no intention of ever doing it again sometime and the only reason you did it in the first place was to curry favor and get that widget order.

For more information, see I Golf, Therefore I Am Nuts!