It’s been more than 24 years since I founded Long Island Golfer Magazine (now Golfing Magazine). In that time I’ve come across more stories than I can even remember. Many of these stories highlight the importance of business golf. One such story
happened almost ten years ago.
For several years I had attended the Phoenix Open, home of the now-famous Tiger Woods hole-in-one at the loudest hole in golf. Back then it seemed like it was just a few golfers, myself, a scorer, and a garbage can that would stand around that ho-hum par-3. Today the Phoenix Open is one of the biggest non-majors on Tour. Each day of the tournament sees thousands of people at each hole. With or without the crowds it was always great to be out west, especially since the tournament was held in January, smack in the middle of the Long Island winter.
Most of the time I would fly out to the tournament for pleasure, but for once I was there for business. I was to interview the president of a major airline. Being the publisher of a golf magazine one would expect that most of my business is conducted in a golf environment. However, this wasn’t just any interview; it was the president of a major airline. I have to admit I was a bit nervous flying all the way out west just for an interview on a golf course.
I find that the best thing to do when you’re nervous is to find a comfort zone or as Chubbs said in the movie Happy Gilmore, your “Happy Place.” For me, that comfort zone is golf. Think about it—would you rather do something in a high-stress environment or a comfortable one? It’s a no-brainer. Make golf your comfort zone.
So I flew to Phoenix and spent my time with the airline president at the Phoenix Open. I couldn’t think of a better setting in which to have an interview: Sunny skies and 80°, sitting on the grass next to a tee box at a world-class golf event. I asked many questions, but one sticks very clearly in my mind. I asked, “How important is golf to your business?” His answer was, “I’ve bought every one of my airplanes on the golf course.” Can you imagine ordering airplanes for a major airline while playing golf? The point is, you can use business golf any way you like. Make it a place for deal-making, negotiating, buying, selling, or just plain talking. It’s up to you. There really is more to business golf than just playing a round together.
When you are spending time on the golf course, the people you are with share something in common—golf. That alone should reinforce your comfort zone. Even with a multi-million dollar deal on the line, you can be comfortable on the golf course. However, don’t expect to close a deal on the first tee. Just like golf business golf requires patience. You have all day to accomplish your goals, so don’t panic if things don’t happen early on.

John’s Bonus Golfbit: Plan the day—whom to invite; who would be comfortable playing with whom; what are you trying to accomplish.