How good of a golfer do you have to be for business golf outings?

I’m in an industry where there’s a lot of schmoozing with clients and partners. There are a whole bunch of golf outings each year people in my office go to, but I always decline because I’m really awful.

I know you don’t have to be very good for these things, but I’m pretty sure I would flat out embarrass myself. My last time at the driving range, I concluded I can hit the ball maybe 100 yards? And that’s with no accuracy whatsoever. That’s just hitting the ball as hard as I can and it going wherever it wants to. With some sort of accuracy, I can hit the ball maybe 50 yards.

Would this be acceptable? Do most people suck really bad? If I had to guess, my score would probably be 125-150 over 18 holes. Should I keep skipping these events until I get better somehow?

I don’t mean this to sound so brusque, but yeah, I’d skip them. If you said maybe 100-105 over 18 holes, I would suggest you could play if you wanted, but feel free to pick up your ball if you’re having a bad hole.

But at 120 plus, odds are very high that you will have zero fun, and the hassle of looking for your lost balls, or playing in increments of 50 yards or so, will become a significant annoyance for your playing partners.

But look at the bright side: you can brag about how much better you make your coworkers’ rounds by simply staying off the course.

Double bogey golf is probably the cut off in my mind. That’s 36 over, or 108 on a par 72 course.

You should, but if you have the spare time for it, you should try to improve. It shouldn’t be particularly hard to do unless you have some kind of physical impairment. Golf is a sport of muscle memory; it takes practice, but eventually you’ll be able to get a decent swing without overthinking it. Remember to always follow through. I was taught at a young age to “not just hit the ball, but hit through the ball.” Your swing has not finished just because you’ve made contact with the ball. Don’t overthink it. Don’t be like Charles Barkley.

If there were bowling outings I would be fine. I don’t understand how all these businessmen became so good at golf. It’s not like they were on the golf team in high school. How does everyone become good at golf once they become a “suit” and have to go to these outings all of a sudden? Did they learn golf just for these outings? Is that something people should do? I do feel like I am missing out by not going. Maybe learning to golf is just part of white collar America.

When you get promoted to that level, you get management and leadership training, as well as golf training for executives.

If shmoozing over a round of golf is part of your job, and helps you and your company be more successful, maybe you can get your company to pay to send you to lessons? :slight_smile:

I golf a lot for work, in fact, just yesterday for a Boys and Girls Club fundraiser that one of our VPs is a board member on. It is a great way to network and make connections with executives and vendors. I’ve only been playing for around 8 years. I’m usually around the mid 90s. Most of the people I play with are a little to a lot better, but I am able to keep up and not embarrass myself.

My advice is two-fold. First, practice and get a couple of lessons. It will likely take a couple of years before you really feel like you have some idea of what you are doing. At that point your scores still won’t be all that good, maybe 110-120 but you’ll inevitably hit those few shots that keep you coming back.

Whether you want to put that much commitment in, the other thing I would advise it to inquire about the format. The majority of business outings tend to be a scramble. That means each player in the foursome hits from the same spot and then everyone plays from what the team determines is the best ball and continue until the ball is in the hole. This puts a lot less stress on those who are not as good. Even with three decent players and one weak player, the team will usually be around par. I can’t ever recall playing with anyone who is jerkish to someone who is a weaker player. If you ever do encounter that, then you’ve learned something about them. Most of the time in a scramble, one of the players is not on the same level as the others. As long as you are good company and keep a positive outlook, likely it will be a good time and you will make new relationships or built on ones you already have.

A lot depends on the outing. I’ve been to some, where the emphasis is on getting EVERYONE out there, generally drinking a lot, and having a good time. They can set up all kinds of games - such as blind handicaps, best ball, etc, where a lousy handicap could actually HELP the 4-some. If it is that kind of outing, then go ahead and have fun.

For most other outings however, I suggest you need a minimal amount of 2 things: 1. some ability to consistently advance the ball in the direction of the hole, and 2. an awareness of golf etiquette - how to conduct yourself on a golf course so as not to detract from others’ enjoyment.

To me, it doesn’t really matter how good or bad another golfer is, so long as they keep pace, aren’t talking and moving excessively when others are hitting, watch their ball, are ready to play when their turn, don’t delay getting off the green, repair ballmarks, etc.

Some people completely lack hand/eye coordination, such that they will never be able to consistently strike the ball such that it generally moves towards the hole. But if you are minimally coordinated, you should be able to develop sufficient skills to not completely embarrass yourself in just a month or so, with maybe 4-5 private lessons, and a couple of sessions per week at the range/practice green.

After you get so that you can hit the ball reliably, play a round or 2 with a friend who is a good golfer, and ask them to tell you what you need to do to not piss off other golfers. Ask your friend the correct terms for various things: the teebox, fairway, rough, hazards, par, birdie, bogey, irons, woods… If you know when it is your turn, where to stand, how to mark your ball, how to replace divots, rake traps, tend pins… - that will make up for a lot of shortcomings in the skill dept.

Watch a couple of tournaments on TV to get some of the lingo and rules down.

If it is a competitive outing for serious golfers, I wouldn’t go if I couldn’t shoot legit in the low 90s, and preferably kept a handicap.

My question to you is, do you think your career is being hindered by not going golfing?

If you find out decisions are being made on the golf course that directly affect you, or that you would have added valuable input into? Are coworkers that go being promoted over you? If so then you need to start attending, or at least get ready to start attending. Golf is also a great way to “network” as well.

I’ll echo a couple of the above statements. Take a couple of lessons, even group lessons to learn the fundamentals. You should be able to get 4 lessons for under $200. Then start practicing, both at the range and at small Pitch and Putt or Executive (9 holes, mainly par 3’s with a couple of par 4’s) courses. These rounds should be $20 or less. Throw in a few sessions at the driving range as well.

If you take those 4 lessons, golf a couple times a week and hit the range the odd time within 2-3 months you will probably strip 20-30 strokes off your game and be running with the big dogs!


I’d skip them until you’re a lot better. In all honesty, you’d be an annoyance to your partners and that’s not going to help you make deals or make friends with the execs. Hitting it off line at 100 yard max means you are doing something really wrong. Any teaching pro (go to a municipal course) can fix you up in a really short while. Then you have to practice before you go back to your old ways.

Golf has little to do with your status. As long as you play regularly and practice you’ll get good. It doesn’t matter if you’re a trust fund baby or Ken Shabby. Some of the best golfers I have played with are farmers in rural Colorado who play in jeans and ripped shirts. They just played growing up.

Take the lessons. It’s the best investment you can make in your game.

A lot of the best golfers in golf history did NOT come out of the middle-to-upper-class mileu that is today popularly associated with golf. They didn’t have a lot of money, they just busted ass at it until their swing was second nature. Like every sport and hobby, it has its gear geeks and its blowhards and people who spend huge sums of money on it, but the initial investment need not be substantial.

Don’t neglect the short game. You need to know when to exercise restraint on the fairway and green, not just power off the tee.

I agree 120%. Practice doesn’t make perfect – it makes permanent. Lessons are the only way to figure out how to play golf. It’s just too hard for the vast, vast majority of people to pick up by going to the driving range, even if you spend a lot of time there.

I think Dinsdale has much of the point. Knowing the etiquette and parlance goes a long way.

A lot of these outings* are “scramble” format so you don’t even have to worry about picking up if you are sucking - everybody picks up except the guy who had the best shot. However, if your drive barely makes 100 yards, you could use a little practice first because that’s on the embarrassing side.

*by which I mean tournaments where your company sponsored a group. If the outings are just taking a client out for a round, then you need to be a little better because the camaraderie, drinking and free stuff doesn’t draw attention away from your crappy play.

This. I attended an introductory course for kids when I was about 12. One-hour classes each day for a week. I played regularly for about six months afterwards, then didn’t touch a golf club again until I was about 20. I haven’t played more than once every five years since (and I’ve grown more than a foot since those lessons), but I can still play well enough not to embarrass myself - other than the invariable 10-stroke hole once per round.

Two things to remember and you’re gold:

“That looks like a gimme for you, boss.”

“Shoot, that bird clearly distracted you. Why don’t you take a mulligan, boss?”

You should decline until you can play at a better level. If you’re that bad, it will reflect on how those clients and co-workers perceive you. We can argue whether or not it’s fair that they project your ability on one skill to you as a person, but that’s the unfortunate reality we live in.

This although there can be exceptions on both sides of the fence.

One law firm I know had two senior/founding partners who both sucked at golf; they just added some golf outings over the summer to placate a couple lawyers who really loved the game. Playing with them and not being any good was not just allowed but encouraged by the only two scores that really counted. In fact they arranged a couple outings every year for everyone – support staff, families and anyone else who wanted to come along. At a miniature golf course. :slight_smile:

Another firm — the other extreme. If you ever hope to make partner you better be well under an 80 average or really hide the fact that you don’t play or play well.

Best piece of advice I ever got, and shaved 20 strokes off my scores, was to leave my driver (1 wood) at home … a spoon (3 wood) won’t get you as far off the tee, but you’ll end up closer to the fairway …

As above, you need to spend quality time on the driving range before you hit the links … and work on your putting, that’s half your score …

That’s pretty bad.

I would not want to play with businesspeople until you got better. It’s not so much that they;ll think less of you - if anything they might admire your tenacity. It’s just that the day will be less enjoyable if everyone is always waiting for you.

You can get down to 110 or so with maybe three or four 1-hour lessons plus some driving range time. That’s all it would take for a pro to shave a lot of points off your score. Just being taught some fundamental skills will absolutely get you to a passable level. Any healthy adult should be able to shoot 110 on a reasonably challenging course, but you need to know a few fundamentals. A golf pro will help you and it isn’t very expensive.

You could still do a “best ball” tournament, though.

Hell, I’d say beginners could ditch everything longer than a 5 iron! :wink:

If you can hit it 150 yds reasonably straight, you could hold your own w/ 90-95% of the hacks out there.