Golfing with clients

Golf is the preferred Wall Street sport to play with clients for many reasons. You get to spend four hours with them on the course trash talking, drinking, gambling, making off-color jokes and call it work. Becoming your client’s preferred golf partner can be a huge boon to your career. Becoming your client’s member-guest partner will not only be profitable, it will get you invited to that exclusive trip to Ireland, Pinehurst or Vegas.

 

However, it’s more than just getting good at golf. (In fact, you may not want to get TOO good at golf. Trash-talking, drinking and gambling you can never be too good at.)

Here are a few tips before you hit the green:

Control your emotions

When you mess up a shot, don’t erupt like Mount Vesuvius. Don’t start yelling like Spalding in Caddyshack (Turds!!, Doubleturds!!), throw your 8 iron at the cart girl or sit down on the 18th green and sulk like you are Colin Montgomerie and just threw away the US Open at Winged Foot.

If you make a nice shot, don’t overdo the celebration but don’t be too negative either. If someone says, “Nice shot,” smile and say, “thanks,” instead of “Not really. I’d rather be in the hole.”

Be sympathetic. When your opponent misses a 4-foot putt to lose the hole, say something like, “Sorry. I hate to see you miss that.”

Maintain a good attitude regardless of how the match is going. Who cares about the $20 you might win or lose? This is about your career.

Make small talk

Ask about the kids — even if you couldn’t care less about Johnny’s Little League season or Tiffany’s upcoming ballet recital. Talk about how much it sucks to be a Mets fan. Ask how he likes his new Titleist AP2 irons. Ask him which one of these caddies smokes the most weed. Ask him old you think the cart girl is. Just keep it light and friendly.

Just don’t give unsolicited swing advice. “The problem I see is your backswing…” Take it easy, Butch Harmon. Just like you client doesn’t want to hear, “The problem I see with your portfolio is …,” no one wants to hear your insight, Nostradamus.

Keep up the pace

Nobody likes playing with a slow golfer. You don’t have to rush but you don’t want to be known as the human rain delay, either. If you are out of the hole, pick up your ball. If you can’t find your ball, don’t look for your ball for 10 minutes.

Watch everyone else’s shots and help others look for their balls. If you’re looking out for your partner on the golf course, subconsciously he will feel you are looking out for his portfolio, too.

Be ready when it’s your turn. When others are hitting, that’s when to figure out the yardages and select your club. Have another ball in your pocket in case you hit one in the water.

Be honest and let your play do the talking

Don’t be a sandbagger. “I guess everything is going right today!” “I swear I never play this well.” Those are standard lines for guys who lie. Your body language will give it away. No client will ever trust you.

But don’t be the Vanity Handicapper, either. When you make a double bogey don’t say, “I swear I birdie this hole every time!” Don’t talk about how great a golfer you are. If you are good, they will notice.

How to dress

This is very underrated. You should look good on any occasion. If you look like a pro, the other members will notice you and will make your host feel important. If you look like crap, the other members might think you are there on some work release program.

Check the club’s dress code about shorts but never, ever wear cargo shorts.

Color coordinate your outfit but don’t overdo it and pull a Rickie Fowler and go all one color — you’ll wind up looking like a crayon. And limit it to three colors. You don’t want to look like you’re going to a Grateful Dead concert. Who would trust their money to THAT guy?

If you have hair, wear a visor with a cool logo like St. Andrews or Mercedes. They are way cooler than wearing a hat that says, “Kiss the cook” or “World’s Coolest Dad.” If you’re bald, don’t forget the sunscreen.

Golf isn’t merely a leisure sport. It’s the martini lunch of the modern workforce, the buoyant venue where business gets done.

“Think of it as a six-hour sales call,” says Bill Storer, a 22-handicapper who ranks as the Ben Hogan of business golf. Just as Hogan had his five fundamentals, Storer, the president of Business Golf Strategies in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, has boiled the game down to a few basics.