The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
The Business Of Golf
“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” And so did I, from birth to age 26 when I moved to New Jersey. I walked to Grammar School; took a subway to Brooklyn Technical High School; and took a different subway to Pratt Institute, also in Brooklyn. I was what was then called a “subway student.” As a youngster and young adult, I did not have much of an opportunity to play golf for two reasons:
- I could not afford to buy clubs or pay greens fees.
- The closest golf course was 20 miles away and I did not own a car, nor was public transportation available to any nearby course.
I graduated from Pratt with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and landed a great job at ESSO (today it is Exxon-Mobil) as a Sales Engineer. After a one year training period, I was assigned a sales territory in the five boroughs of NYC and lower Westchester County. It was in the 60’s, about the time Arnold Palmer was building “Arnie’s Army.” Golf was becoming very popular but at age 26, I had not yet even picked up a golf club.
I will never forget the day my boss at ESSO was giving me a Performance Review. He suggested that I take up golf, because he said that “golf was good for business.” The suggestion came through more as an order, so I took his suggestion. As a youngster I did play some baseball and I was an average athlete. One of my colleagues at ESSO invited me to play at a public course in Westchester County. I accepted his invite and got hooked on the game. And today, I am still hooked. Of course I “joined” Arnie’s Army and made Ben Hogan’s all time bestselling golf book, “The Five Fundamentals of Golf” my bible. It was not too long before I was playing well enough to see and learn why businessmen love golf. Here are some of my fondest memories.
I had recently moved to Harrington Park, NJ (Bergen County) but knew no one. Almost every night, one of my neighbors, Charlie, was practicing his golf swing on his lawn by hitting plastic wiffle balls. I introduced myself and when he learned that I played golf, he invited me to join him one Saturday at the nearby County Course. I became a permanent member of his group of four, and we played every Saturday, weather permitting. Charlie was an executive with Goldman Sachs and was often invited to play with prominent businessmen and clients. Many times that day’s group would need a fourth and Charlie would invite me. He knew I did not have an office job and was often available. It would take many more words and paragraphs to list the contacts and friends I made through Charlie. Charlie moved to Garden City, NY where he became President of the prestigious Garden City Golf and Country Club. Of course, Charlie had me as his guest many times and I met more and more of his influential golfing friends.
For businessmen and women, golf is a game for ALL skill levels, all ages, all physical builds, male or female, left or right handed. It is the common language that opens the conversation that builds lasting relationships. While at ESSO, I joined the Sales and Marketing Executives Club of NY. Every year they had at least one Golf Outing at a top ranked course. One year it was at the Westchester Country Club. I could invite three others to make up a foursome. Charlie was one of them. I had been trying to get a meeting with the Chairman of the Taxicab Owners in NYC, but to no avail. When I invited him to be my guest at Westchester, he jumped at the invite. Eventually ESSO was able to do business with the Taxicabs in NYC.
Later in life, we moved to Bucks County, PA where I was a Marketing VP for a Fortune 500 Company. Many new doors were opened when we joined the Doylestown Country Club I was invited to join the Philadelphia Advertising Golf Association (PAGA). At that time, it was comprised of about 30% Media representatives, 30% Advertising Agencies and 40% Advertisers, the group in which I qualified. The people I met and befriended were all members of prestigious golf clubs, many of which opened up to the PAGA for their monthly outings. This membership enabled me to play at the number one course in the world, PINE VALLEY, NJ; also the MERION Country Club, the PHILADELPHIA Country Club and several others, all because I was a businessman who loved Golf.
Other reasons why businessmen love golf are more personal. They include the therapeutic effect, the exercise, getting closer to nature; golf builds character, it reveals character in others, and it relieves stress. Golf is a game that can be played for life and allows one to be competitive long after one loses their competitive skill for other sports and games. In my case, that competitiveness drove me to invent the PRO-HEAD Training aid for which I received two US Patents. The training aid enabled me to break 80 for the first time in my life at age 69. And I have done it several times since. This businessman’s love for golf drove him into the golf business after retirement from Corporate America.
About the Author
Bob Doyle is a retired businessman, having worked for ESSO, Parker Hannifin and SPS Technologies (Fortune 500 companies). He then founded and ran the Asset Development Group, a Management Consulting Firm for 20 years. He now is President of Forever Better Golf Inc., manufacturer and marketer of the PRO-HEAD Trainers.