It’s all FORE Business.

About one year ago I was playing golf in Canada’s fine Rocky Mountains. I was hitting the ball pretty well on this particular day, a generous handful of strokes off the course record. However, my friend and I were currently trailing in a team match against our other friends. I was starting to feel the pressure heading into the 16th hole. My sweaty hands and nerves were causing me to grip the club a little bit tighter. My tee shot on this hole placed me in what looked like a good position in a hazard (witnesses argue to this day that it was a rock garden). I made the decision to attempt to advance the golf ball out of the hazard and back onto the hole, giving me a chance to get back into the heat of the competition.  With an 8-iron in hand I made a good move at the ball. The golf ball – playing a Titleist, if anyone was wondering – came off of the club a little bit hot and hit a large sized rock a few yards in front of me. The ball came back with so much speed that did not have time to get out of its way and my own golf ball struck me in the teeth. Four teeth down and an incredibly swollen lip, my partner and I still battled back to tie the match. Hours and hours of emergency dental work covered by accidental insurance coverage was the result of forgetting to check my ego at the first tee.

In future job interviews when the interviewer asks me about decisions I’ve made in the past that I would change I always tell them – while tapping on my four front teeth with my finger – that I should have hit the club with less loft so the ball would have ricocheted at a different angle.

The importance of having an icebreaking staple that you can resort to when you meet new Business people is crucial. Always be sure to filter your story to leave out details that you wouldn’t tell your grandmother at the dinner table. It is equally as important that you don’t break the ice twice with repetition of the same story. Which reminds me of a story about the time I was golfing in the mountains and was hit in the teeth with my own golf ball.

On a completely unrelated note, business and golf go hand in hand. The inability to play golf can be a deal breaker when your potential boss calls you and asks you to join him/her for a round to discuss future employment. You won’t be expected to hit the ball 300 yards or break 80, but you should possess the fundamental skill of at least contacting the ball. Maybe your future employer will even forget to quiz you about the future value of an annuity if you can successfully whack a ball around the golf course.

Don’t panic if you have never held a golf club before. Find time to go to the local driving range and hit an extra large bucket of balls. Invite a friend who knows how to play golf (surprisingly, golf is actually NOT “all in the hips”). If you enjoy the game perhaps even track down a set of used clubs! You will thank me when you find out your dream firm holds an annual golf tournament that you are expected to play in.

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