Last time I went golfing, I took a mighty swing that made great contact. The only problem was that the contact was with the ground about eight inches in front of the ball. My forearm ached for two weeks.
The people of Boise are lucky I didn’t go into a field that requires me to network on the golf course. Not only would I be backing up folks for miles while I hit the ball about three times more often than should really be necessary to reach the green, but I’d also surely be humiliating my compatriots (not to mention myself) in front of that growing crowd.
But I’m certain there are others out there who golf as terribly as I do but don’t have the luxury of spending eight hours a day in a cubicle in front of a computer screen. Some businesspeople need to spend time on the greens to network and build client relationships.
I asked Troy Dykstra, assistant professional at Quail Hollow Golf Club in Boise, what people in my position can do to make themselves presentable on the golf course if making a tee time is key to their career trajectory.
Dykstra recommends starting with the basics.
“You’d want to be able to call and make a tee time,” he says. You can’t just show up on the course and think you’ll get to play.
While you’re just starting out, you’ll want to play only nine holes, Dykstra says.
“Nine holes for a beginner, that’s two hours,” he says. “If you’re just starting off and it’s taking you three or four swings before you even hit it, then it’s going to take a long time.”
The pro shop should be able to tell you when the course’s less busy times are so you won’t have to worry about backing up other golfers.
“If you came out at eight o’clock on a Saturday morning, there’d be 80 people behind you,” Dykstra says.
Dykstra recommends taking a few lessons and getting in a few hours of practice before hitting the golf course with colleagues. Many courses offer group lessons, and private lessons are also available.
“They are more expensive, but it is one-on-one instruction,” Dykstra says. “If you really want to get a lot of work done, that’s the best way to do it.”
During lessons, you’ll learn about which clubs to use when, how to use the scorecard and the basic rules of the game. Dykstra said that if you can play nine holes within two hours, you should be ready to play others without embarassing yourself.
“You’ll kind of know when you’re ready for it,” he says. “Everybody advances at a different rate.”
When you’re first starting out, Dykstra says, there’s no reason to buy a set of golf clubs, as it can be a fairly large investment. But if you decide you really enjoy golfing and you’re going to golf often, he says you can probably find a decent used set of clubs for a couple hundred dollars.
In addition to getting your skills up to snuff, Dykstra says, you want to be a good host to the people you’re bringing golfing. That means finding out what their skill levels are, making sure everyone has clubs or that clubs have been rented for everyone, and finding out the golf course’s dress code and letting everyone know.
So, don’t despair, fellow terrible golfers. There’s hope for you yet. Just don’t choose me for your scramble team.
Cady McGovern is Focus editor at Idaho Business Review.