Wednesday, January 20

What Does Golf Reveal About You?

By Pam Swensen, CEO, Executive Women’s Golf Association

MUCH LIKE THE MYERS-BRIGGS or Rorschach Inkblot personality tests, the game of golf can reveal much about you. It has been said that golf brings out the best and worst in people. The game allows you to know your playing partners’ personalities and they will learn equally as much about you.

This is why so many business leaders play golf with important clients, suppliers and potential hires. Many of the rules of golf apply to the business world and being successful at any endeavor—being prepared, paying attention, assessing situations quickly and maintaining ones’ composure. Situations created on the golf course reveal how you respond to success or failure, performance under pressure, and how well you abide by the rules and ethics of the game.

Golf, with its metaphorical symbolism, mirrors the lessons needed for effective leadership. There are 27 million Americans, 1.8 million Canadians and millions worldwide who play the game of golf regularly. And many of these individuals are successful business leaders who are used to closing deals on the golf course.

One top CEO was quoted as saying, “If you can’t close in four hours, you can’t sell,” of the opportunities afforded by the game.

In every round of golf there is something extraordinary that happens and something that’s not perfect. It’s humbling and a good test of character. Some scenarios to consider on the golf course:

How do you handle sudden changing conditions that require quick decisions? Are you indecisive and consistently spend too much time choosing a club or standing over a putt? Or are you prepared and always thinking ahead, taking several clubs to your ball in case the conditions are different when viewed up close?

Do you make lots of excuses—there was noise in my back swing, a gust of wind? Or do you accept the outcome of a missed shot and move on to the next task at hand?

How do you perform under pressure? Do you have a temper? Have you ever thrown a club in anger? Or kicked sand in a trap after a poor shot? Outbursts of frustration reveal much about your temperament that would seldom happen in a job interview.

How well do you concentrate? Are you easily distracted or even distracting? (Turn your Blackberry off!)

What’s your capacity for fun? Can you laugh at yourself?

Are you positive and helpful? Or only focused on your own game?

Do you count all of your strokes? How ethical are you?

Golf is a marvelous test of skill, competition and character, the quest for continuous improvement, moments of great exultation, and sometimes huge disappointment. These characteristics are all key aspects in understanding business relationships, assessing leadership acumen and influencing how clients and colleagues regard each other and, ultimately, if they want to do business together.

What does your golf game reveal about you?

Headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, the Executive Women’s Golf Association was founded in 1991 and has 18,000 members. Learn more at

(Image: Vanneste/Flickr)


Anonymous said...

Great insight and well-said! Pam, you may be able to turn this into a book!

Cornhole Sets said...

Very well does affect the personality and get the best of the people out and open.That is the reason why it is a very popular game with the business entrepreneurs.

Jamie Patton said...

You're dead right - golf is a game that brings out the best & worst in all of us. Myself and a friend are playing a round (at a different course) every day in 2010, around the world, to raise money for The First Tee New Zealand. 21 days in we've already learned a lot about ourselves, and no doubt will continue to do so. You can also learn a lot from your playing partners in a few hours - something we've particularly enjoyed. Our adventures are being documented on a daily blog -

Nikki Rinderer said...

I just ran across your blog and was very impressed with this article. Thank you for sharing it!