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Why HR Professionals Should Play Golf

I haven’t always been a golf fanatic. If you follow me on Twitter, lately you’ll hear me yammering consistently about golf. I hope my enthusiasm will spread.

I surprise myself by how much I have come to love golf. My father was a very good player, and since I was such a defiant kid with all things involving my father, I never thought I’d share his interests. On one level, I believe my golf experience has helped me to understand why my father approached certain issues the way he did.

I played for the first time about 10 years ago. I wasn’t good initially, and I didn’t enjoy it. I don’t like failing at anything so I kept going with it, and have been playing more regularly for the past three years. The regularity has improved my game tremendously.

I often play with my husband and have turned many outings into fun dates. As I’ve improved, I have ventured out to play with people who I don’t know. To make life more interesting, this summer my husband and I started a meetup group ( and now have a regular group we play with of nearly 50 players.

In my opinion, all human resources professionals should learn to play golf. There are a number of reasons for this. Some of the more important ones include:

• People in positions of power have come to appreciate the value of golf. If you want to meet these people, you have a better chance of meeting them on a golf course than anywhere else.

• The scenery is great for reflection. Some of the best ideas come when you are in a relaxing, enjoyable environment. Many of the blogs I have written this year have come to mind on the golf course.

• Golf is played by people of all ages. If you’re trying to improve your relationship with Generation Y or the Boomers, the golf course is a good place to start.

The golfing environment is predicated on good sportsmanship and etiquette. In the regular work world, so much of this has been lost in terms of how we interact with one another. For example, in golf, you’re out with people, working together, for between 2 and 5 hours. So much that we do these days is via e-mail. Golfing forces you to interact with others. Using a Blackberry or talking on a cell phone on many courses is a significant faux pas.

Then there is the demeanor of people on the course. When someone has a good shot, you compliment then. When they have a not-so-great shot, you make light of it or say nothing at all. If someone needs to take a mulligan, unless it actually matters, let them take it. It is a reminder that people like the small rewards like recognition or encouragement.

Speaking of demeanor, there are rules regarding etiquette. For me these are helpful in application outside the work environment as they help you to recognize how you may be unintentionally invading someone else’s space. Some of the best etiquette on the golf courses that can be applicable to work includes:

 Keep the pace, don’t slow others down unnecessarily.
 Follow the instructions of the Marshall.
 Don’t step on someone’s line when you are putting.
 Don’t cause shadows on someone’s drive line or put.
 Take your turn when it is your turn (furthest away from the hole shoots first).
 No talking during someone’s tee-off.

Our jobs can be stressful and thankless. It is great to be somewhere where the people are pleasant.

In many respects, golf can be absent of status. Sure, the highest level executives play on expensive courses in exclusive clubs, but you wouldn’t believe how many great people play on public courses during the cheap rate periods. I’ve enjoyed my time and have obtained just as much value from playing with business owners as I have playing with machine operators. In fact from an employee relations perspective, a couple of years ago I recognized that I had secured the trust of a group of plant supervisors when after helping them through a very difficult situation with their employees, they invited me to play nine holes with them after work.

Let’s face it, human resources professionals have a reputation for being notoriously bad golfers. I think this has implications that transcend golf. Effectively, the golf course is like a giant board room table, and if we’re not there, we’re not there.

It’s just simply a must-do.

Come play with me.


  1. Most of our (male) management team plays golf. My boss lives at the country club and has a single digit handicap. I had always hated the game, thought it was boring, etc. However, I got tired of not getting invited to meetings that took place on the golf course with our attorneys, bankers, and outside accountants, let alone the rest of the management team.

    I decided that it would be a good career move to take golf lessons, and enlisted the female managers to do a group lesson one night a week for 6 weeks with a local golf pro. We had a blast together. I was the only one who wound up buying clubs and who kept playing after the lessons were over. I played a bit that first year, and then had some issues with my elbow and stopped for a while.

    I recently accepted an open invitation to play with our accountants the next time they get a group together, since they promised me they were all bad golfers, too. I can't wait!

    Too bad we don't live closer to each other, as I'm pretty sure I would have been out on the course with you this summer at some point.

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