Golf etiquette for corporate business professionals
Business golf Tips by Burleson Consulting
Golf etiquette for corporate business professionals
Traditionally, men playing
casual golf will let their hair down, cussing like a stable boy, smoking fat stogies, hocking loogies and peeing
freely in the woods. However, the business gentleman must be able to golf
in a respectable fashion, abandoning their crude manners and adhering to more
gentlemanly (or womanly) golf demeanor.
||Note: Golf is more than just
playing well and being friendly, you must know the proper etiquette.
If you want to learn professional golf etiquette from a PGA master
professional, I recommend Brad Clayton of
Puzzle Duck golf.
A noted golf expert and
aspiring professionals travel to Brad from all over the world to learn
professional golf manners.
Proper golf dress etiquette
Golf is one of those sports where you can dress like a Chicago pimp, with
white saddle oxford shoes, orange pants and dopey hats. However, when
meeting new business clients, it's always best to dress conservatively.
It's acceptable to dress like a retard on
the golf course
For related tips on proper
attire, see my professional
dress code. Next, lets move into proper
golf manners for business meetings.
A guide to golf manners for business
The business of America is
business, and many meeting occur on the links. Unfortunately,
golf is the world's second most difficult sport to master, especially the
rules of etiquette and manners.
The first area of golf
etiquette is dealing with colloquial golf customs. The business
professional should always distinguish between local traditions that are
intended to enhance your golf experience (gimme's, drop zones and Mulligan's) as
opposed to those golf customs that are intended to punish the golfer (e.g.
mashies and dick outs):
Favorable golf etiquette
When golfing with clients,
always offer any advantageous local customs, any courtesies that will help your
|A slice into the woods should be
followed by a jovial "that's a Mulligan" and a gimme on the green should
include a generous distance allowance, more than just "in the leather".
Saint Mulligan is the patron saint of
golf, and it's always a courteous offer to someone who hits a bad shot.
Mulligan - Always
offer a client or superior a mulligan for any out-of-bounds or water shot.
Gimme - On many
golf courses, a bal that is "in the leather" is a gimme ("In the leather"
refers to a ball that is within the shaft length of the putter, not counting
the leather grip).
Unfavorable golf etiquette
Golf customs that are
intended to impede or punish the player should always be avoided. These
include local golf customs such as mashies and "dick
The "dick out" is a somewhat
archaic golf tradition that
originated on military golf courses, where any golfers whose tee shot that did not make
it to the ladies tee is required to un-zip and walk to his
ball exposed, ostensibly to show that he is indeed a man. In practice, if a client or a superior
declares a dick-out on your tee shot, you should comply, unless of course, there
are women present.
Miscellaneous business golf etiquette tips
Here are some basic tips for
golfing during professional business meetings:
Watch the spitting
- Many male golfers spit on the clubs after each shot to loosen debris from
the club face, before wiping it clean with a towel. Proper golf
manners dictate that you should not
hock a loogie, especially in mixed company.
Instead, hang a small "misting" pump spray container to your bag for
cleaning your clubs.
Field strip your
stogies - You should never just
mash-out a cigar or cigarette and leave the butt on the grass.
Instead, obliterate a cigar with your gold shoe, and pick-up the remaining
filters from discarded cigarettes.
Don't search for lost
balls - Unless it's your client or boss who is trying to save a stroke,
don't waster your time looking for lost balls. It's very aggravating
to wait for five minutes while a hacker searches in the woods.
Watch your expletives
- Unless your guest cusses, you should never use any excited utterance
stronger than "Oh poo". On the other hand, if your client is having a
godd**n motherf**king day, feel free to join-in the fun, and always be
creative in your cursing. In some business circles, business
professionals are judged by the creativity of their cursing.
Let the client win
- This is the foremost rules of
golf manners. Remember "it's only a game", and the last thing you want
is to beat your client. While it's also wrong to deliberately "throw"
your game, it's acceptable to rush your putts, a simple techniques to add
strokes to your game.
Don't use caddies
- When discussing business, never use caddies, as your colleagues will be
justifiably reluctant to discuss sensitive business matters in front of
Don't dawdle -
Golf etiquette demands prompt play, and the speed customs vary greatly.
In Scotland, the locals detest the "slow" American golfers, and a Scottish
golfer is expected to complete 18 holes in less than three hours. Some
etiquette for golf play speed include:
Have your next club
ready - Always anticipate your next shot and have the club ready.
Tend the flag - If
you are not away, take initiative and tend the flag.
Don't advise -
Unless asked, never give play advice to your follow golfers.
Does a business professional
pee in the woods?
||Public urination is discouraged on the
golf course, and some have actually prohibited peeing, especially in the
sand traps (which are usually reserved for the exclusive use by local
However, some claim that group urination can be an important male bonding ritual, and if you
are golfing with an important client who whips it out, you should always
By the way, if your
wiener is bigger than your client, proper golf etiquette demands that you
retract your member to make his appear larger.
In sum, "do as the Romans
do", and always follow the lowest common denominator of manners and etiquette.
For related tips on good
manners, see my professional
Inappropriate corporate sponsorship of charities,
professional golf etiquette and
Professional Corporate Tipping tips.