How and Why to Swing a Golf Course Deal

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Times have been tough for the golf industry.

Younger players haven't been as keen on the sport as past generations, a situation not helped by the recession, high unemployment and the on- and off-course problems of the marquee draw Tiger Woods.

Golf
The business world still heads to the links to hash out deals big and small, says Michael Andrew Smith, author of Business-to-Business Golf: How to Swing Your Way to Business Success.

But rest assured, the golf course business deal is alive and well, says Michael Andrew Smith, author of Business-to-Business Golf: How to Swing Your Way to Business Success.

Smith, a consultant who has led more than 125 business-focused golf outings, says the business world still heads to the links to hash out deals big and small.

"Despite all the instant messaging and email, and even in the era of Facebook and Twitter, the face-to-face meetings and discussions are still very much up there in importance, particularly when it comes to business relationships," he says. "If you want to get to know somebody a little bit better, the cardinal rule is to have a meeting, and golf is the natural vehicle for doing that."

Golf courses, Smith says, are a perfect venue for gaining leads, firming up deals, maintaining vendor relations and resolving board-related matters. The relative calm and quiet of the course, and the many breaks in the action, are ideal for fostering conversation.

"If there is interest in having a lengthy discussion -- something that goes beyond a simple yes or no in an email -- what better setting is there to do it than the quietness of a golf course?" Smith asks.

As he sees it, taking clients to sporting events, even using a luxury box, may be impressive, but it doesn't always get the job done.

"If you are at Madison Square Garden or Giants Stadium watching the Yankees or the Knicks, it is great," he says. "I'm not taking anything away from it. But there are so many distractions -- the crowd and the game itself. You can't really get anything up close and personal, or ask more probing questions. If it's a nine-hole or an 18-hole round on the course, and you supplement that with a luncheon or a quick drink afterward, you have the ability to pursue a really good conversation."

Smith offers the following advice for those looking to broker business on the greens this summer:

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