• Golf used to be a great way to network for business and career purposes
  • There are more modern networking options that fit today’s lifestyle better
  • Play golf for fun not for networking
It happens every Monday morning at the office without fail.

Whether it’s at the team meeting, by the water cooler, in the hallway or by the coffee machine, the conversation goes something like this…

“Where did ‘cha play this weekend?”

“Played a round at Holly Oaks Country Club”

“Nice! That’s an incredible course. What did ‘cha shoot?”

“Shot a legit 89. First time I broke 90 in a while. Scored a few birdies on the short par fours that were absolutely clutch.”

“Shit, that’s a great round for a course like that.”

“Yeah, you gotta come out with us next weekend. Mark and I have a tee time with Bob Sacamano and we need a fourth.”

“With Sacamano? For real?”

“Yup, it’s gonna be good. You in?”

“Definitely. Count me in.”

Unlike other weekly reports, this Monday morning golf report is never late. It’s always on time. And it’s always the same players sharing their wins and losses from their day on the golf course.

What you also notice is that it’s these same coworkers that seem to have an inside track with other key executives in the office, like the Bob Sacamanos of the world.

It’s like they have an advantage over you for when they need favors, a little slack or leeway, more resources, etc. They navigate office politics like expert office ninjas.

You, on the other hand, feel like you’re stuck at work.

And so, you begin wondering if you should take up golf to enhance your internal working relationships at the company and maybe even your career.

Let’s get into this.

How Golfing Became A Business Sport

Golf originated in Scotland sometime around the 15th century. Nobody knows exactly when somebody thought it was fun to hit a small ball with a stick and try to get it into a small hole in the ground.

It was a fun and cheap outdoor activity that anybody could do. In fact, its popularity led to its banning by James II, the King of Scotland, because he thought his citizens should be focused on archery and other real-world military skills, not bullshit nonsense.

But when King James IV came along, he got hooked on the sport. So, he lifted the ban and the sport took hold in the country. And because the king was playing, many of the common folks saw it as more of a sport for royalty than for the working class.
It grew in popularity across Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries and eventually by the 20th century, it became a global sport in almost all industrialized countries.

And while the sport evolved and changed over time, the one thing that remained constant was the fact that it was a sport for the privileged and/or higher-ranking members of society.

If you look back to the peak yuppie eras of 1980’s and 1990’s, golf was really limited to the middle and upper classes of society and even more specifically, primarily male caucasians in white-collar careers.

It was a status thing to be a member of a county club and with that membership, you were surrounded by other people with similar positions in society.

So, on the weekends, when a group of golfers got together to play 18 holes, it was mainly about golfing but because they’re spending five hours together, it provided ample opportunities to get to know each other.

This is how Sam the stockbroker introduced Adam the advertising guy to Phil the pharmaceutical rep. It’s these initial introductions and meetings that can sometimes lead to business deals.

This is how golfing became a means to network with others, particularly with others of similar socio-economic status. It was an important tool for career management too.

Golf became so pervasive that the business world started adopting golf terminology into its corporate cliches.

It’s phrases like…

“That’s par for the course.”

“Let’s tee this up at the next meeting.”

“We need a mulligan on this one.”

“It’s time to bring your ‘A’ game”

By the early 2000’s, with Tiger Woods as the sport’s frontman, golf got really popular with business professionals as a means to network and conduct deals in informal settings away from the office.

But, things started to change with societal and demographic shifts that led to the business sport of golf losing its luster and waning off.

Why Golfing Isn’t As Effective Anymore For Networking

Golfing has been the go-to sports activity for networking for decades. It's a sport that tons of people love to play and talk about, but it doesn't have the same effect on today's generation of workers like it used to.

Today, the business sport of golf just isn’t as effective as it was back in the country club heydays and here’s why.

1. Less People Are Playing

Golfing peaked in 2005 with about 30 million people playing 550 million rounds of golf - that’s a shit load of golfers swinging clubs and hitting balls.

But since that peak year, the sport has experienced a consistent and gradual decline to about 24 million people. It hasn’t dropped off a cliff like the fadish rollerblading trend, but it’s slowly fading.

The real key stat is that younger generations just aren’t interested in playing golf or simply don’t have the money or time to do so. Between work, family and side hustles, there’s no room left.

The percentage of people aged 18 to 34 that play golf dropped by 30 percent in the past two decades - that’s a huge drop in any industry.

And so, if your peers aren’t on the links, there’s less incentive to pick up the sport.

2. People Are Too Damn Busy

When was the last time you had six hours of “me-time” to do whatever the hell you want to do and spend about $100 doing it?

Yup, us too.

Today’s working generation that is in the early to mid part of their careers has other more important shit to take care of in life.

It’s things like paying down all that student debt, raising a family, paying all the bills, taking care of aging parents, etc.

Fewer and fewer people have the money and time to devote to playing golf. A lot of people have more important shit to take care of than trying to get a small white ball into a hole in the ground.

3. It’s Just Not Cool Anymore

Let’s be honest here. Golfing has a perception that is associated with old rich white guys living in the suburbs. It’s a perception that the industry is trying to shake off, but the sport’s long history and reputation of its demographics won’t go away.

Today, people tend to value diversity and inclusion. And, if something’s not in line with that, it just doesn’t get much attention - kinda like an unresponsive boss.

With the exception of Tiger Woods, the industry doesn’t have the diversity and cachet like other major sports.

In other words, it’s just doesn’t have that cool factor anymore. And when this happens, fewer people take it up.

4. It’s Frustrating As Fuck

Golfing isn’t an easy sport - at all. It’s not like shooting a basketball or playing tennis. You can’t just pick it up in a few minutes. It takes a significant amount of practice and dedication to play it reasonably well.

Who’s got the time to devote hours and hours of practicing your golf swing at the golf range every week?


Golf is a sport where a millimeter matters more than you think. Small mistakes are amplified exponentially. And, it happens a lot.

Hitting a small golf ball with a golf club face that’s not that much bigger than the ball itself is hard. And even if you do manage to make contact, the ball rarely goes where you want it to go.

It’s a frustrating sport that doesn’t exactly help you to stay calm, relaxed and happy. It’s not easy to be in a networking mood when you’re about to lose your shit and want to snap your golf clubs in half.

5. New Tech Makes Networking Easier

One of the reasons why golf used to be so popular for business networking was because there really wasn’t any other way to get hours of “face time” with others.

Today, with the internet, social media, smartphones, everybody can get in touch with anyone else easily with just a few taps. Hell, we have “Facetime” as an app.

Technology has brought the world closer together.

You don’t need to spend hours on a golf course to meet new people. It’s all right at your fingertips now with smartphones and the web. You can cyberloaf your way through online groups for every possible industry you can think of.

And if digital networking isn’t your thing, there are IRL networking events based off of apps, websites and online groups that happen every week.

The point here is that there are so many more ways to network now than ever before.

Better And Cheaper Ways To Network

In the past, hitting the links with company executives, industry contacts, prospective or current business clients was a great way to build a relationship and it still is to some extent.

However, today there are many more ways to establish and grow business relationships without having to swing a golf club. Not only are these options less expensive, but they can also be more effective.

Much of this can be attributed to cultural changes in the business world and the advent of the internet.

Here are some ideas.

1. Go Out To Lunch During The Week

We’re big advocates of stepping away from the desk and getting outside during lunch. You can’t work non-stop all day. There are real dangers to working through lunch and not taking a break.

Everyone needs a mid-day break from all the madness. A good lunchtime break will help you get back in the zone in the afternoon.

You probably have a work BFF that you have lunch with and that’s cool and all. But, what you need to do is mix it up sometimes.

If there’s a manager from another team that is known to be a strong contributor and is being groomed to be promoted, reach out to him or her and ask if you can have lunch with them to pick their brain about the company, the industry or more specifically, tips about working with others.

Try to have lunch with one new manager or executive each month. This will help you to build those bridges in the organization.

2. Join Employee Clubs At Work

If you work at a large Fortune 500 type of company or any company with more than 1,000 employees, chances are good that there are employee social and/or hobby clubs.

According to this study from the Academy of Management, having a leisure-time hobby helps to balance out and manage work stress and boost your creativity, both personally and at work.

Joining hobby clubs at work can increase your productivity, even after you leave work. This is because it helps create a supportive social environment that promotes creativity and collaboration.

And it’s this creative collaboration with others, namely those in other departments or higher up in the organization, that can be beneficial for your career.

3. Host Weekly Bagels-n-Coffee 

If your group or department has a little budget, ask if you can use a bit of that to run and host a bagels-n-coffee get-together once a week or monthly. Just stay away from office donuts.

This is a great way to meet and talk with other coworkers, managers or executives that you wouldn’t normally interact with.

The great thing about this informal way to meet new people is that you’re not centering the discussions on current projects because you don’t have any with them. You get to know them as people, not stakeholders.

4. Get An Executive Mentor

If there’s an executive that you look up to or admire or one that is really doing a bang-up job and kicking ass, approach them and ask if they’d be willing to be an advisor or mentor to you.

An executive mentor can help you in your career development and provide crucial advice on how to succeed at the office or advance in the organization. Or, in dire situations, they can help you when shit hits the fan at work.

They’ll have a better grasp of how to handle certain situations and challenges. And if they don’t know, they’ve got the reach with other executives that do.

One strong executive mentor can open the channels of communication with nearly all the other executives in the organization and even outside the company.

5. Organize Lunchtime Walk-n-Talk Sessions

Because most of us sit on our asses for most of the day, it’s critically important to get some kind of exercise every day. You need to move your body or else dead butt syndrome will turn your ass all numb.

It doesn’t need to be a marathon training session. In fact, there are a lot of low-sweat, easy workouts that you can do at the office.

One of the best and easiest ways to get your body moving is to simply go for a walk during lunch.

And, you can make it a mini-networking event by pairing up with other coworkers or managers and making it a “walk-n-talk” session. You’ll be doubling up on the goodness.

6. Become A Member Of A Professional Group

Nearly every profession out there has an industry group. Whether it’s the Society Of Human Resource Management, American Accounting Association, Project Management Institute, etc., there is a trade group for nearly every job function out there.

Find the trade association or group that matches up with your career path and direction and join it.

Check with your company’s HR department and see if they may have an existing corporate membership or if they’d be willing to pay for your membership as it’ll benefit the company.

These professional groups have tons of online resources to improve your skills. They also host in-person networking events and trade shows throughout the year. These are great opportunities to reach out beyond your company and make new connections.

7. Be Active On LinkedIn

This is about the only social media platform that is acceptable to use during work. It’s the Facebook equivalent for the white-collar crowd, the cubicle dwellers.

If you’re not on the LinkedIn bandwagon yet, it’s never too late to join. Check out this article on LinkedIn for beginners to get started.

Instead of posting bullshit nonsense on social media, set aside some time in the morning after your coffee meditation to browse relevant news in your industry and post up and share your thoughts on LinkedIn about it.

This will show your network that you’re connected and in touch with what’s happening in your profession.

If you make a compelling case for your perspective, it will get noticed by others. It’s a great way to passively build strong ties with your contacts for career development.

8. Attend Industry Trade Shows

Every industry usually has an annual trade show to keep everyone in the business up-to-date on what’s happening and to promote the business itself.

It’s important to try to attend the annual trade show, particularly the one that your company is in the business of.

The tough part is that many people in your company should go, but oftentimes, budgets don’t allow for every employee to attend. You need to build your case early with your manager on why it’s important for you to go.

So long as you don’t have an asshole boss, it should work out and you’ll be able to go.

These trade shows have educational seminars, networking sessions, working groups and much more. They are one of the best “bang for your buck” ways to advance your career.

9. Join Local Networking Events

If you can’t swing a trip to the annual industry conference, then don’t fret. You have local options too.

Check LinkedIn, MeetUp and/or Facebook for professional networking groups for your industry. Chances are good that there is a monthly or quarterly meet-up that happens in your neck of the woods.

When you do go, follow these quick tips in this 3-minute video and you’ll be golden.

VIDEO: How To Make A Connection
LENGTH: 3:15
Summary points:
  • Wear something that stands out as a conversation starter
  • Always ask about the other person first and get to know them
  • Be yourself and enjoy the event
The beauty of local networking events is that you don’t need to book air travel, hotel, rental car, etc. to attend these because they’re all right in your backyard. You only have to deal with the commute.

Check out their schedules and make it a point to attend one each month or at the very least, one every quarter.

10. Be A Guest On An Industry Podcast

Okay, let’s be honest. None of us will be on the guest list on the Joe Rogan podcast show. But, there’s a good chance that you could be a guest on a small, niche podcast from your industry.

Just like there’s an app for nearly everything, there’s a podcast for nearly every topic.

Side note, here are some podcasts to turn your commute into daily joy therapy. We like these a lot.

But getting back to the point here, there’s a podcast out there that’s related to what you do and/or your career. Find it and start interacting with the hosts via email and social media.

Make a name for yourself by standing out with great comments, replies, counterpoints, etc. The aim here is to get noticed and offer yourself as a subject matter expert or sounding board for future episodes.

This will give you some great exposure and it’ll boost your personal brand to those in the industry.

Start Networking The Modern Way

As far as business and career networking are concerned, golfing is no longer the most popular way to make connections. There are much better ways to network that are easier, cheaper, more efficient and fit your busy life.

For the older generations, golf may still be a good way to make and maintain business contacts, but for the up and coming generations, there are better alternatives.

So, don’t get worried that you’re not part of the foursome with Bob Sacamano. You can make real connections and bond with him and other key managers and executives with other creative options.

If you’re interested in learning to play golf, then by all means, go for it. Do it for fun but not for your career development.

Feel Better,

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