By Ron McCloskey, VP and Chief Financial Officer PNCI, PNC Bank
To start, I’d like to provide a polite disclaimer that most avid golfers would agree with: Golf is an endlessly frustrating game that takes a lot of time, effort, and expense. But as I like to say when I’m having a bad day on the course, “If it were easy, I probably would have quit a long time ago.”
With that said, you might ask: what would make thousands of people take to the links on the weekend to torture themselves? Ultimately, golf can be a wonderful escape that is just complicated enough to occupy your mind for a few hours. It can also be a great way to grow your professional network, get to know a prospective client or employee, and build your career.
Golf is a metaphor for life, and it requires commitment, confidence, and perseverance. We’re taught as golfers to be honest. There are no referees in our game. We must conduct ourselves in an ethical manner and respect the course, our competitors and most importantly, ourselves.
Golf is also a very social game. There is plenty of time in a four-hour round to discuss the day’s events. That includes a pending business deal, or explaining what you, or your company, can offer a potential business partner. It’s a great place to build a relationship, and you can learn a lot about how someone conducts themselves by observing how they play golf.
How do they handle stress and adversity? Are they a very serious person or do they prefer to keep things light? Are they a stickler for the rules or is this an escape from the daily grind? Typically, these things can reveal themselves along the links. I’ve always said I look for two things when hiring: First, is the person smart? Second, can I get along with them? I can have the answers to both after a round of golf.
Golf can be a delightful way to enjoy a beautiful summer day, a means to challenge your physical and mental skills, and an amazing vehicle for meeting new people and building your network. I’ve been paired up with retired police officers, caddies on their day off looking to play a few holes, executives who have escaped the office for the day, and medical personnel who have offered sage advice…and not on my golf game. (The caddies have the best stories by far!) The point is, you never know who might be waiting on the tee box for you, or what their background is, what language they speak, or how they might be able to connect you to a new opportunity.
As both golfers and professionals, we have to adapt to use our individual talents. There are a lot of ways people can play the game or grow in their career. Yes, it takes both athletic ability and mental acuity to play, but our skills are all different, and each golfer’s goals, talents and strategy will vary.
In golf, just as in business, the environment is always changing. We never play the same game twice. Like running, swimming or other individual sports, you are relying on your own determination to help reach your goal. The same goes in your career. The world might be changing around you, your company might be experiencing movement, or maybe you’re looking for your next opportunity. What you can rely on in these situations is your own resilience, talents and determination. In golf, this self-reliance and grit might be why it’s so incredibly rewarding when everything aligns correctly, and you pull off a great shot, or post your personal best score.
If you’re looking to get started as a golfer, reach out to a friend who plays or a local professional and ask how to get started. There are group classes offered in many locations. There are specific classes for female golfers, as well. Check out upcoming classes at both RMU and CCAC. Who knows…someone in your class might just be your next employer!