As Canada inches towards recovery from COVID and the travel industry follows suit, many of the first in-person meetings are taking place on golf courses – open, outdoor settings that are naturally socially distanced, while still being social. This includes a tentative return to the corporate golf tournament – such as the Toronto Skal Club’s much-anticipated return to the links in Toronto on Sept. 27.
So, what do you do if you don’t play golf and are invited to one of these meetings, or it’s a “must-attend” event? How do you make it to the “19th hole” with your confidence and pride intact?
You have a game plan and a strategy, say golf experts at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia, whose courses have seen up to 300 rounds per day this fall, a record-breaking pace fuelled in part by the rebound of the corporate meeting.
“The real first step is to focus on what you can do well, and learn at home,” says Chris George, Kingsmill Resort’s golf pro, adding, you don’t do what Jackie Gleason did on “The Honeymooners” and try to learn the game overnight. Instead, talk to someone with experience, especially when it comes to company outings, and ask them how to survive the event, contribute, and most of all, have fun.”
And remember, George adds, most golfers never break 100, so, there are very, very few good golfers.
Second, nearly every corporate outing is a “scramble,” which means everyone hits and then the team picks the best shot, and all players play the next shot from there; the team will repeat this process until they finish the hole. This format is great because it takes the pressure off the novice/first time golfers and more times than not, with four people per team, someone will hit a good enough shot to get to the next shot.
The moment of glory is on the green (where the golf hole and flag is) not on the tee. Only one person needs to hit a good shot. And that shot can be a putt.
Finally, you don’t need to hit the ball 300 yards. There is a famous saying in golf: “Drive for show and putt for dough.”
Here are 10 further tips from George to help newcomers and novices not only “survive” but thrive at the corporate golf outing:
1. Learn the lingo (and what not to say): Birdie, par, bogey, 90-degree rule, tee box, fairway, green, 19th Hole, golf etiquette (not talking during someone’s swing, where to stand, etc.)
2. Learn to putt: Great putts win holes and winning holes helps with prizes at the dinner after the scramble. You can putt with any putter. Get a putter (easy and cheap) and a few golf balls and put across your living room into an empty cup or aim for leg of a chair/couch across the carpet and floor to practice. Most public golf courses allow you to use the putting green free of charge.
3. No clubs, no problem: Borrow clubs from a friend, or call the golf course ahead to reserve a rental set.
4. It’s all about the grip: Most golfers don’t know how to properly hold the club correctly. Go online to check out tutorial videos to learn how to hold and swing the club.
5. What to wear: No fancy golf clothes are needed. Make sure to have a pair of golf shoes, which can be picked up at a local sporting goods store or online. For men, collared shirt and any type of pants/shorts are great; golf skirts for women. The key is not to dress in plaid and not to wear hot pants!
6. Golf etiquette: Golf is a social game, mostly a quiet game and showing respect is key. The basic rules include:
• Don’t talk when people are getting ready or hitting a shot
• Don’t stand in front of people hitting. Stand still and to the side when they are hitting a shot (so they can focus on the ball and the hole).
• Don’t walk in people’s “line” on the green. In other words, don’t step on the grass where the ball will roll from their putter to the hole, it can leave an imprint and ruin their putt.
7. Respect the golf course: Repair divots or ball marks on the green (simple, easy, and impressive). Rake sand traps to get rid of footprints (the rakes are in or near the sand traps… you don’t have to bring one with you).
8. Don’t think too much: Golf is a counter-intuitive game. You swing slow and easy to hit the ball farther. You hit down on the ball to make it go up in the air (the club will do the work). Always follow through on your swing (make sure your belt buckle is facing the target after your swing).
9. Have fun: Golf outings and scrambles are social, fun, and most people have no belief they have a shot at winning. It’s a team effort where everyone at some point will help the team (that putt, or getting it close to the hole, or out of sand trap). Don’t be afraid to ask golfers with you for help, or tips. Golfers love to talk about golf, it’s a game of passion.
10. The 19th hole: There is no actual 19th hole – it’s a term used by golfers for the bar/restaurant or clubhouse where golfers meet up to recount and embellish tales of glory of the 18 holes they just played. Like fish tales, golf tales are created there as the social aspect of the game continues off the course itself.
Still not convinced? Just remember, George says: “As they say, any day on the golf course is better than a day in the office!”
First published at Travel Industry Today