Mark Twain famously said, "Golf is a good walk spoiled."
Several of my friends are taking golf holidays this summer. They can't get enough of the sport. When they ask me to play with them, I tell them I've never learned how to play. Their reaction is usually somewhere between wonderment and pity.
As long as I can remember, golf has been one of the quintessential guy things to do. And, more than that, golf seems to be viewed as a key skill for rainmaking by executive salesmen--and sales is always the primary job of the entrepreneurial CEO. In fact, I have heard sales folk speak of the golf course in almost reverential tones as the ideal networking format. Does my not playing golf make me a sales cripple? Well, I say no.
Certainly golf seems to be great fun. There is at least a hint of a fanatical, addictive gleam in the eyes of golfers I meet. Also, to judge from the number of fund-raising invitations I get involving golf, it seems to be a mainstay of the eleemosynary.
As an outsider looking in on this business sport of golf I have one primary observation: Golf takes a long time to play. I'm told that the average golf outing is three hours. For me, my time is my most cherished resource as a salesman, as an entrepreneur, and as a human being. Do I spend it teaching my daughter tennis? Do I spend it with my significant other? Do I spend it on the endless myriad of tasks I don't get to as head of my company? Should I spend the time just thinking, meditating or winnowing down that Mt. Everest of books that sits by my bed?
I don't think I'm alone in this calculation. I can see that golf is a wonderful, pleasing, challenging sport. I could see myself enjoying it one of these days. But, in terms of a modern business tool, it doesn't seem a particularly efficient way of initiating new business. It just takes too bloody long! Not to mention wearing those hideous golf clothes.
We're in an increasingly fast-moving business world. Efficiency in business presentation and connection is paramount. As an observing outsider with his nose pressed to the glass, I find golf quaintly inefficient as a rainmaking tool.
However, golf, if nothing else, seems to breed wonderful, witty comments. Robin Williams said, "Golf is a game where white men can dress up as black pimps and get away with it." Or take Winston Churchill, who said, "Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed tor the purpose." And, finally, Mark Parkinson. "If every golfer in the world, male and female, were laid end to end, I for one would leave them there."