Thursday was the golf tournament and opening reception. These are two of my favorite events of the Inc. 500 conference. The golf tournament is fun because you get to spend some quality time with new people and learn about them and their businesses in a very relaxed way. And of course the opening reception is when you get your first real opportunity for networking.
This year's golf tournament was excellent. We played on Savannah Harbor, the same course that will be used by the pros in three weeks. I was teamed up with Skip Whittaker, the Executive VP from Windmill International and serial entrepreneur, Don Schoen of MediNotes (a fellow Ernst & Young honoree). Although we had never met before, the three of us had an incredible time playing and getting to know each other. Don was the best player in our group, while Skip and I kept things close by hitting an occasion shot that kept us in the game and providing comic relief.
The defining moment for us happened on the last hole. After an incredible tee shot by Don, we took our approach to the green. Don hit a beautiful shot slightly off the green to within 10 feet of the hole. I hit one of my best shots of the game and landed 20 feet from the hole but on the green. By this point Skip and I let Don make the call on which balls to hit because he was the best golfer in our group.
After thinking about the shot alternatives, Don turned to us and said, "We can get closer to the hole if we shoot from off the green, but we might be able to make the put if we shoot from the spot on the green." "However", he continued, "if we miss the long putt we could be in real trouble." It didn't take me even a second to remind both of my partners that we didn't get to the Inc. 500 conference by not "going for it." So that is what we did.