There is absolutely no doubt that golf is sweeping the world off its feet. There are many who believe that no major social gathering is complete without a golf outing; that no major convention is complete without a golf tournament; and some major weddings must schedule prenuptial tee-off times for the bride, the groom, and their guests. Interestingly, certain NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball stars spend almost as much time on the golf course as they do on the playing field. Some even make contract decisions based on the golf facilities of competing cities!
Hollywood feels similarly about golf. Samuel L. Jackson is a huge fan, even though he only started playing at the age of forty five. There are also movie stars who state in their contracts that location sites must provide easy access to major golf courses. And then there are stars such as Johnny Mathis, who spend more time on the golf course than on their jobs.
Golf is increasingly becoming less male and less white, too, in part because of networking possibilities and in part because it is a fun way to stay in shape. Experts believe that golfers that walk eighteen holes once or twice a week can improve their health dramatically. Golf is also the game of choice for a number of physicians and health care professionals. “Usually when I walk and play a round, I lose about four pounds,” says teaching pro Marvin Childress.
Minorities are turning to golf not only because the game is fun and challenging, but also because the game provides a great deal of access and networking opportunities that are not always readily available in the boardroom. The senior vice president of Nova Chemicals in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jeffrey Pina learned this the hard way when he was invited to play the game with his boss but had to turn him down since he did not know how to play. So, Pina made sure that never happened again. After a crash course, he hit the links and discovered the real world. He says, “I saw how business was conducted on golf courses. I saw how relationships and trusts were built.” He was surprised to see the level of business that is carried out on the course. “The account executives delivered all the news they needed to deliver instead of having a business meeting, and it was done in an environment that was more cordial and far more supportive, because you’re playing a game as well as conducting business.”
Black women are among the most passionate supporters of the game today. Another golf plus, according to the publisher of the African-American Golfers Digest, is that the game gives you a personal edge. Given that golf is such an expensive sport to play, it can act as a major personal selling point. There is, moreover, a fraternity or sorority of golfers, and once a golfer meets a golfer – a client, CEO or a potential date – they enjoy an instant rapport. Although corporate executives and celebrities spend relatively large amounts of money on club fees and green fees, most golfers spend relatively modest amounts playing municipal courses.
Celebrity golfers like Michael Jordan are fueling the golf craze. Not only do people pay attention to what celebrities are doing, but they also try to incorporate the competitive spirit of the likes of Jordan. Leonard S. Coleman Jr., former president of baseball’s National League, says he enjoys golf because “it’s extremely competitive, and I relish playing the game with my friends and competitors.” And the vice president of multicultural marketing at Schieffelin & Somerset Co. says he enjoys the camaraderie of the game and the opportunity to relax in beautiful natural settings with like-minded colleagues.