Playing golf with the Boss can be the scariest round of golf ever played. Depending on the boss and their attitude towards golf and life, that can be career affecting.
However, it should not be avoided.
Many beginner golfers feel their inability to play PAR golf or have the golf skills of Tiger Woods will play against them when it comes time to play golf with their boss or someone in a higher level of their company. Very seldom does this matter if you make it perfectly clear up front of your beginner status. If the boss is a true golfer and really enjoys playing golf then he or she knows that EVERY golfer has to be a Beginner at some point in their golfing life.
Misleading someone, anyone, especially your boss, that you are a golfer of moderate skill and you are not it cannot be hidden in golf. To have people think you are better than a beginner and then for them to find out after three or four miserable holes you have never played golf..that does not show well no matter what your boss’ attitude is about anything.
The same goes with being a scratch golfer and leading the boss to believe you are not very good. Sometimes that unexpected higher level of performance on the golf course could also come across as you being a person who is misleading or deceptive. Sometimes the elevated level of play could be looked at by the boss as remarkable, but again, if his expectations of your skills were lesser the impression still could be a little negative.
No matter what level of skill you play the key is to communicate the honest level of play at the invitation to play with the boss. Many times the skill level you play will give to being part of great conversation afterwards.
Let the Boss Win?
This question is what is really on golfers’ minds when they play their first round of golf with the boss..especially if their skills are knowingly superior than the boss’. OR, if the boss really sucks at golf.
Here again, communications of the level of golf played clearly stated upon the invitation to play with the boss will set the level of expectations before the peg goes into the ground on the first tee. If there is a game to be played then it is played under clear intentions.
Many bosses are competitive. More than likely that is why they were made the boss (in most cases)..then some are so competitive that losing becomes an emotional hatred. Here is where the employee should do his homework before playing with the boss.
If you have the time, it might be good to ask around with others in the company who have played golf with the boss to find out his temperament. If the word is he is a Normal Guy or Gal then I suggest you tee it up and let it fly.
If the boss is a tyrant, club thrower or has anger management issues, then maybe a little discussion at the first tee on exactly what game will be played and the reiteration of golf skill levels and handicaps are made clear. This may calm any problems that develop later.
Overall, play the game of golf as it was intended to be played and there should not be a problem. If the Boss wins, great, if you win, great..the point was to have integrity and show humility to the win or defeat. That shows a lot to the boss on how you deal with success and failure.
Boss Hates to Lose
There are bosses are out there who absolutely hate to lose at anything. Some are even fanatical. Some bosses might even wait to tell you they hate to lose right as you are taking the first tee to play golf. Dealing with this type of personality will be difficult but can be dealt with by just playing your game and not getting into defending your boss or apologizing for whatever the problem he is having.
I would image that if the hatred to lose was that big of deal he would not be asking you to play golf anyhow since golf is a very unpredictable game. just smile a lot and move the conversation onto something else if the intensity of losing gets high..
However, remarks like “I hate to lose’ are sometimes said as a test and sometimes meant to be friendly, humorous or to sync you out. Here is where reading body language and having the ability to read a person’s true personality will become important. Again, play your game and generally the humor will develop into a very good time.
Sometimes remarks or comments are made on the golf course that are not clear and sound serious but or in gest. Anytime this happens it is best to stop and clearly understand what was said. You feeling the pressure of anticipating at anytime the boss is going to blow up because you beat him in golf will not make for a pleasant day and the boss will see this. It will make his/her day uncomfortable.
If the boss really hates to lose and is serious, then the expectations can now be realized and you know how to handle the round. If you are not a competitive person this will be extremely hard. However, relaxing and playing your game will show the boss..win or lose..who you are and how you act under pressure.
Remember, many times bosses like to test people and with you being an employee the things he or she says to you could be a test. Just relax and show them who you are. The more casual you handle it the more impressed the boss will likely to be.
When the Money Hits the Ground
Many times the boss will want to play for money. Yaw, this happens from time to time during a round of golf. Gambling should not be a surprise so be prepared.
Declining to not play for money could be delicate issue and I suggest that a counter be made if playing for money is too much pressure for you. Counter with offering to play for who buys the first round of beverages after the round. This is called a soft bet.
However, if you are going to go down the path of playing golf for money..know your game and the game you are playing. Usually (statistically, over 85% of the time) the boss who likes to play for money holds a tight line on the rules and how the game will be played. The utmost integrity to the rules of golf will have to be demonstrated. Take this very serious but have fun. This is a very dangerous tightrope to walk so if pressure is not your game it would be best to beg off.
Even if you are an accomplished golfer and have been involved in some double press Nassau at your club before, depending on the mood of the day you may also beg off to betting. Especially if this is your first time to play with the boss. Take the first round as a feel-out round and if you get invited to play again then step into the game an play your best.
No matter what, play to win. Allowing the boss to win could be seen as brown nosing or sucking up..bosses hate that..believe me..I was a boss that hated that.
Make the Best of the Day
Positive attitude and cheerful demeanor is the order for the day when playing with the boos. No matter what the bosses personality is or his mood stay positive at all cost. If you have nothing positive to say about something he is talking about the best thing is to not say anything..or at least say, something like
“I’m not sure I know enough about that to make a comment’.
I was always impressed when one of my junior execs would say that to me. It worked on me, I am sure it would have the same effect on you boss.
Depending on how the invitation to play golf with the boss came about, treat it as a true test of your character. Even if the round of golf was scheduled to be use as a day away from the office with no intentions of business included, always be on your best behavior. Remember, you are playing with the boss. The impression you make during a round of golf is usually remembered more than the impression you make in the office…that is USUALLY.
Don’t be Chummy
The last piece of advice I have for those going out to play their first round of golf with the boss is to NEVER be chummy with the boss. Remember he/she is the boss and they generally are not in a position or will ever take the position of being friends with their employees.
Becoming friends with the boss leads to many other problems in the workplace. So don’t start thinking that the boss is wanting to be friends with you because he/she asked you to play golf. If he or she is any kind of good boss they cannot put themselves in that position.
You can laugh, tell jokes, have drinks and have casual debates, even open up a little and talk about work issues that are concerning you, but NEVER think the boss is your best friend. It just never works that way.
I had many bosses I played golf with during my career in corporate America and I played with as many of my employees. I cannot remember a bad time I had with any of them. The business relationship I made with my boss made the workplace a little easier to deal with since I knew more about his and her (yes, I had several women bosses during my career) character. It made me a stronger boss since I learned more about how to read a person’s character while on the golf course. I feel the fun we had was due to me knowing my place and them knowing their place in the politics of the workplace.
There is nothing wrong with playing golf with the boss and I encourage it. It is good for you and good for the boss to play with the troops. Just keep smiling, have fun and play the best golf you can. That should get you through the round and maybe being asked back to play again…that is the true test on how well you did during the round of golf you played with the boss.
Let me know how I can help.