Rodney Green has been in the golf business all of his life. Growing up in the Maryland area, he had a passion and drive for the game of golf that propelled him to South Carolina State on a golf scholarship and eventually to a carer as a professional golfer. Today, Green is no longer a professional golfer, but a golf professional managing the business of the game as the director of golf operations for Innsbrook: A Salamander Golf & Spa Resort in Tampa Bay, Florida. Having a passion for the game, industry and teaching, Green wants to expose as many people as he can to the game of golf, and more importantly that the game of golf and business go hand in hand.
BlackEnterprise.com got the chance to catch up with Green—who will conducting golf classes at this year’s Black Enterprise Golf & Tennis Challenge— to discuss the game of golf, its relationship to business, and why it is so important to step out there on the course regardless of your gender, or skill level.
Blackenterprise.com: Why has golf been so longstanding?
Rodney Green: The game of golf is for everybody! Our industry does a phenomenal job of promoting the game to Juniors. Everywhere you look there is a junior program or league surfacing, but it’s the adult player development area that is missed and where more effort needs to be focused on.
The demographic that is overlooked to a large extent is minorities, women and more specifically African American women. African American women are completely missing out by not being out there on the golf course with their male counterparts and colleagues. My goal here is to educate this group on the fundamentals of the game, and for them to experience the game. I am not trying to turn these 18-34 year-olds into tour players, I want them to learn something that is going to be a tool that they can use for a lifetime. Beyond the game It’s about relationships and networking.
Golf is a tough game. How can someone who has never played the game become more familiar with the sport?
One of the best things to do is to start of in a golf clinic setting because it is much less intimidating when everyone in your group is around the same skill level. Once you become more familiar and comfortable with golf fundamentals, now you can look for more individualized sessions. Like anything else it take consistency and commitment to become a better golfer. Understand that it’s not about becoming the next Tiger Woods, but becoming familiar with the game to leverage relationships and networking opportunities.
Why is the relationship of golf to career advancement and business so important?
Golf is one of the true venues where you get to spend four or five hours with someone, and during that time you get to know the people you are playing a round with. This is the ultimate opportunity to connect with people you may not have otherwise had the chance to. At some point during the conversation, you engage in discussion about who you are and what you do. By the end of the round you have exchanged cards, made first and second connections, and expanded your network.
Believe me, if you try to go spend 10 minutes with the president or CEO of an organization you might get five minutes of their time; assuming you made it past their secretary. He’s sitting in there with his suit and tie on, and he has calls and meetings to attend. When you get that same executive on the golf course in his polo and dockers he is in a much more approachable atmosphere. Now you are in a laid back environment with more time to engage, listen and build a relationship.
What is the customary etiquette to adhere to while out on the course?
I stress the etiquette more than anything when I am teaching the game of golf. This is really the first thing we talk about, because it is important to understand how to conduct and handle yourself while out on the golf course. There is a protocol that is in place on the golf course that you have to experience and go through personally. Three of the most important etiquette takeaways are:
- Talking- Knowing when the appropriate time to engage in conversation is important. When a player is taking his or her shot allow them the time to focus on the shot without any distractions.
- Positioning- Be aware of where you are on the course in relationship to the golfers in your group. Allow the others golfers the space to prepare for there shots.
- Pace and time- Understand how many shots you have taken to and who might be playing behind you. You don’t want to spend 30 minutes at a hole. Allow other players or groups to play through if you are struggling at a particular hole on the course.
Golf is a game that is fun but has a large element of etiquette that comes along with it. It is important to respect the course and the other players on the course during your time out there.
What three pieces of advice do you have for people interested in learning the game of golf, and using it to further their business relationships?
- Take golf lessons- There is nothing better for you to do than to get good solid fundamentals from the beginning from a PGA professional. This is what taking a clinic or taking golf classes is all about. No matter what you do in life basic sold fundamentals are key for your success.
- Be realistic- Be realistic about your expectations on what you are trying to accomplish with the game. Are you taking it up to give you something to do as a social activity? Are you trying to be competitive with it? Regardless of your reason behind taking up the game understand that there is a level of commitment you must have to become a better player. Whether that be socially or competitively.
- Have fun- Enjoy the game of golf and the opportunities that being out there on the course can open up for you. Use it as a tool to develop relationships, network, and expand business opportunities.
Daron Pressley (@daronpressley) is an entrepreneur and former Fortune 500 sales and marketing executive who has been featured on outlets including Fox45 News, Black Enterprise magazine, and The Washington Post. Knowledgeable in marketing and branding, Pressley works with professional athletes, organizations, and individuals to develop strategies to create, build, and grow brands. As a speaker, Pressley has reached more than 20,000 students, and provides dynamic insights on leadership and branding via his website: DaronPressley.com