Golf is a sport that everyone can play, old, young, athletic, or sedentary. It's a game that doesn't play favorites. No matter one's age or ability, he or she can play, and play competitively.
When incorporated into a meeting or incentive, golf can also be a great equalizer. "In a business setting
, the boss is at the top with a dominant personality and generally more experience. The whole scenario shifts when an entry-level staff member learns to hit a ball far or scores in a short game, which brings to them a different level of confidence and authority," explains Dawn Mercer, director of instruction at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, FL. "Tournaments have handicaps to make us equal and in the short game everyone is equal, since it doesn't take brute strength to have success." It's this nonhierarchical environment that makes the game unique.
The statistics are impressive: An estimated 90 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs play golf, and those executives who play make an average of 17 percent more than those who do not, says Andrew Wood, CEO of Legendary Marketing, a golf, resort, destination, and real estate marketing company.
Many key relationships have been fostered on the golf course. The typical executive golfer has closed a median of five deals through golf, according to Jon Last, president of Sports & Leisure Research Group, a custom research and market analysis company. This means that companies must make sure they are providing opportunities for all to go out and play. And one good way to do that is by incorporating golf academies into meeting itineraries as much as possible.
Instruction Is All-Inclusive
Golf clubs and destinations are tapping into the power of golf instruction for players of all skill levels. The Ballantyne in Charlotte, NC, for example, offers golf outings for those who play and clinics for those who don't, so everyone can get in the game. Similarly, Pelican Hill Golf Academy in Newport Beach, CA, guided by Instruction Director Glenn Deck, one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers in America, is dedicated to helping new golfers and solving problems for current golfers so they have more fun playing the game. Pelican Hill offers panoramic ocean views from its two award-winning Tom Fazio--designed courses and a Golf Academy that's set up to focus on a player's entire game.
Golf schools and academies give beginners a chance to learn the game or for experienced players to develop their skills. "Golf is a humbling sport and they call it a game of a lifetime for many reasons," says Brad Doell, director of sales and marketing for Turtle Bay Resort, North Shore, Oahu, HI. "For one thing, you can play for 30-plus years and still learn something about your game and yourself every day you pick up a club." Plus, he adds, learning nuances of the game with coworkers can uncover strengths and weaknesses.
"There's no question that what is taught at a golf academy can help improve the dynamics of a team," says Ryan Mulvey, PGA Golf Professional and General Manager of the golf operation at Sheraton Bay Point Resort in Panama City Beach, FL. "For one, your team members have the opportunity to interact in an environment that encourages them to support one another while working towards a goal. Many clinics are often structured in a manner that facilitates teambuilding by introducing a competitive and collaborative element to the session."
The structure of the game itself, not to mention the camaraderie present in golf academies, is also ideal in this regard. "The teambuilding and bonding that I have seen happen during golf clinics brings everyone closer to create a positive and fun work environment," says Matt Denzer, director of instruction at LGA Palm Beach Gardens at PGA National.
This holds true if there is a component in the lesson that requires every member to reach a certain goal. "This results in the team working together and assisting in aiding less able team members," says Jonathan McCord, golf director at Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand.