Golf Has Been Calling You. It’s Time To Give In

I thought the game was too slow, too dull and too expensive. Now I know just how wrong I was

How can playing so bad feel so good? (Image: Courtesy of the Shell Houston Open)

It’s been more than four months since I surrendered to the game of golf at the Shell Houston Open ProAm. I resisted the seduction of the game for more than 15 years, ever since I took my first golf lessons at the Black Enterprise/Pepsi Golf & Tennis Challenge back in 1996, our first in Miami. Until my horrifying-yet-exhilarating experience at Houston’s Redstone Golf Resort this past March, I played hard-to-get with golf. But now, I’ve got it bad. It’s got me feenin’.

Golf now dominates an increasing proportion of my thoughts: “When can I practice my swing? How many times can I get to the driving range this week? Would hypnosis help? I sure love my Callaway Diablo Edge irons. Would it be that weird if I slept with my clubs?”

As I prepare for my next golf goal, to play for the first time ever in the Black Enterprise/Pepsi Golf & Tennis Challenge this Labor Day Weekend, I practice every chance I get, as anyone who follows me on Twitter knows. I use little magenta golf-sized wiffle balls to practice my full swing and real golf balls to practice pitching in the back yard. I go to the local park in my neighborhood, where I have the room to smack around almostGolf balls (my absolute favorite practice tool to date). I have an indoor putting green, where I can practice putting, as well as chipping balls from my dining room to my living room. I’m devouring golf magazines and books, including Golf for Dummies by Gary McCord and Golf Rules & Etiquette for Dummies by John Steinbreder (both of which I strongly recommend). On top of all that, I now actually watch golf tournaments on television! The commentary still puts me into a semi-comatose, waking-sleep state (I have to toggle the remote to the NFL Network just to get my heart rate back up), but I am increasingly enjoying what I’m learning from watching the best golfers in the world play.

Golf still reigns supreme as the sport for creating and strengthening the business relationships that are necessary to take advantage of opportunities, solve challenges and make things happen. This is a key reason for the popularity of the Black Enterprise/Golf & Tennis Challenge and similar golf-centered events. Golf is a great way to get an extended audience with key clients and influencers, and to communicate your value as a potential business partner, client, vendor or hire. Many people use golf, a game in which rules, sportsmanship and etiquette are paramount, to evaluate the character of potential business partners and associates, in order to decide who they should or should not do business with. In fact, when it comes to business, how you play is more important than how well you play golf.

Today, more African Americans, and more black women in particular, are playing golf than ever. This is important, because for too long, minorities and women were kept at the periphery of the sport, banned from the elite golf venues where key and lucrative business networks operated. Now, many of those barriers have been lowered, if not outright eliminated, opening up additional pathways to relationship-building that is necessary to maximize business, professional and other opportunities.

However, too many black entrepreneurs and professionals miss out on opportunities because they refuse to learn and play the game. If you’re a businessperson (I’m talking to you ladies, too) with ready-made reasons for why you don’t play golf, as I once was, I strongly urge you to reconsider your position. I’ve personally discovered that many of the things I accepted as valid reasons for not playing golf are either unfounded or no longer true.

So if you’ve been considering the game, but hesitant to commit, let me address at least some of the most reasons for not playing golf, in a sincere effort to get you out on the links with me.

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  • Sidney Joyner

    Hey Alfred,

    I must say your article really aces the question why African Americans who are serious about business need to explore the great game of golf. I have found this sport to be one of the most enjoyable sports I have ever played and I have played them all! I hope that individuals who read your article also take the time to read a little about the history of African Americans in the sport of golf. Our history in this sport will truly enhance your reasons for playing and appreciating this great game. Keep working on your game as I will and I hope to catch up with you on the links.

  • Sidney Joyner

    Alfred,

    I would like to add that it was a pleasure to meet you at the recent African American Golf Summit at the Marine Park GC. It was a great day and your presentation provided a well nuanced view of what happens when the passion of the game emerges in you. Take care and I look forward to attending the Black Enterprise Golf & Tennis Challenge in 2012.

    • Alfred Edmond, Jr.

      Sydney,

      It was great to meet you and I really enjoyed the African American Golf Summit at the Marine Park Golf Course. Sharing my experience with you and the rest of the Passion Networkers has only increased my enthusiasm for the game. I look forward to catching up with you on the links and at the 2012 Black Enterprise Golf & Tennis Challenge!

      Alfred