• Liz Lathan

Is golf the solution to COVID-era business?



Throughout the global pandemic, golf was one of the first professionals sport to rapidly create and implement COVID safety protocols to bring tournaments back safely an to welcome golfers out to the courses. Outdoor activities were the first to get approval for gatherings for more social distancing and allowing small sales-driven gatherings to take place safely.

As you prepare your 2H sales acceleration activities and funnel advancement plans for prospects, should regional golf outings be part of your portfolio? The perfect ABM-meets-field-events tactic, golf outings might just be the thing.


“Believe it or not, golf rounds are up 20% ... more golf is being played now than ever before. ”

Golf has always been the sport for business

Small groups allow for intimate conversations and while large scale events are fantastic for 1-to-many communication of thought leadership and product updates, small gatherings are where business moves forward.


In golf outings, the relatively slow pace of play allows for more time and space for relationships to grow throughout the day. The shared experience of the ups and downs and emotions involved in golf by itself, paired with a competitive spirit and even a collaborative learning opportunity to share tips and become better shortcuts the relationship-building aspect of any foursome who is together.


Golf is outdoors and COVID-safe

It's easy to social distance, less likely for transmission when outdoors, and you have your own set of sanitized equipment for the day.


The PGA was one of the first professional sport organizations to create and enact COVID guidelines to keep their sport intact during the pandemic.


Early on, they instituted one person per golf cart, rules around not touching the pin flag, removed the rakes from each hole, added plastic dividers in carts or supplemented cart so there were enough for everyone, instituted temperature checks, and required wearing masks when not social distanced.


From these regulations, golf courses around the world have implemented similar guidelines, creating a relatively consistent level of standards that makes holding a corporate event low-risk.

Golf is good for your physical and mental health


Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, but also contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.

It's also a stress-reliever (despite all the curse words!). According to Inc. Magazine, while golf can be the most frustrating thing that you'll ever learn to love, it can become a terrific outlet for you to handle your work-related stress. In order to become proficient, it requires lots of practice and tremendous focus. You can't rehash a terrible meeting while you're trying to sink a 10 foot putt. So, playing gets you out of your work mindset and into a golfing frame of mind.


Ease into in-person with a golf event

Believe it or not, golf rounds are up 20% ... more golf is being played now than ever before. Got an executive gathering of 24 people? Go for a scramble start. Not enough carts? You can walk it! Or one person drives the bags, the other person walks 9 holes, then switch for the other 9.

Want a small field marketing event of 8 to 12 people? You can plan a very special experience at daily fee resort courses. During COVID, most country clubs are not permitting guest play, but that means that it's possible to find incredible daily fee courses for unique small group experiences.


Need to do a multi-city roadshow or tour? Golf courses are the perfect venue solution across the world. You can tent them during inclement weather, enjoy the sun during great weather, and they are easy to work with on outdoor dining options.


Myth: Golf is not a diverse option

Golf isn't widely thought of as an inclusive sport that welcome diverse populations. It's also often considered a men's sport. But that's not true anymore.


While it's true that nearly 30 percent of the US's 30 million golfers are male, there are plenty of opportunities to open up the experience to women.

According to Eric Redd of Redd Golf, almost all golf courses have a putting course. When it comes to golf lessons, there are short game coaches that even the professionals hire to help them improve their putting game. Imagine your next field event being "PUTT AT PEBBLE BEACH!" It's an approachable, unique, outdoor experience that everyone can get behind.


Or an even more unique twist on getting your golf game on: the science of green grass. What if you created an event around the behind-the-scenes experiential learning of ground maintenance - how do they keep that grass so perfect all the time?


With over 34,000 golf courses in the world, there's hardly a city on the planet that doesn't have one, so as your sales teams get desperate to get customers together again, maybe a golf outing is something to add to your radar!


And don't forget locations like Top Golf - with over 50 global locations, these outdoor, covered venues are great for rain or shine. Take over a floor and leave an open bay in between groups for even more space. You can bring in golf professionals to help with your swing, and amp up the competition with a number of game options.


Opting for a more quirky engagement

If golf still feels too formal or exclusive for your audience, what about taking over a putt-putt course for a totally different kind of golf event?


You'll need to bring in a caterer, so look for a venue that will let you bring in outside food, but just imagine the team spirit and competition you can create!


Bring some fun, laughter, and levity to your outdoor field events... and bonus: clown head!

Driving pipeline and revenue through golf field events


To complement your 3rd party event strategy, field golf events for hospitality and deal acceleration might be the perfect solution to ease back into in-person events. As a demand gen activity, these events can bring prospects in during the Learn phase of the buyer's journey, or append your former customer hospitality program by peppering in prospects to your outings and having them mingle with happy customers to influence them positively about your brand and long-term relationship capability.


The vital step in this and all other field marketing program is to ensure they are tied to marketing campaigns that salesmakers are tracking to ensure continued funding for future programs.


Contributed by Liz Lathan, CMP, CMO, Haute.

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