Golfing Your Way to a Promotion: A Crash Course

So you've just landed your dream job in the corporate world and after your first week on the job your boss drops a bomb on you: he wants you to be a fourth in his weekly golf game. It doesn't matter that you've never played before, follow these simple steps and not only will you come out alive, you'll be your boss's new bff.

Although your situation is not desirable, turning him down would certainly be worse. A few simple steps and some practice will help you go from never-played-before scrub to recreational golfer. Okay, maybe not recreational, but you should be able to at least fake your way through it. Before we get to the actual golfing, let's make sure you look the part.

Step 1: The Basics

The first (and possibly most important) step to making people believe you've been on a golf course before is to look like a golfer. To do that you'll need only two things; golfing attire and golf clubs. Both of these things can be easily obtained, and without killing your wallet. The only people who wear the silly plaid shorts and funny hats are European, and assuming you're not, you can't pull it off. Get yourself to The Gap and find a nice fitting polo and a pair of khaki pants or shorts. Don't get anything too baggy or extreme, just nice fitting, tasteful clothing. After all, you're not going to a frat party; golf is a gentleman's sport. Once you've got the clothes, the next step is to get a pair of golf shoes. You can get by just wearing sneakers (definitely not dress shoes) but this will expose your amateur-ness. Instead of skimping and getting a cheap pair of plastic shoes, treat this as an investment. Just think, if the first time goes well, you could find yourself filling in more often which could lead to quicker promotions. and get a pair of brand name (Nike, Adidas, Footjoy, etc.) golf shoes for around $50. Try Golfsmith or a local golf retailer. Your feet will thank you for not shopping in the bargain bin.

The Clubs

Now that you're all setup with a good look, you need to get some clubs. While this is likely going to be the most expensive part, it doesn't have to completely break the bank. Try looking around at local golf shops for a set of used clubs and you can likely score a decent setup for around $200. If you don't have the cash to buy a whole setup, try calling around your area and finding out about day club rentals or demo club sets. Try to avoid using rental clubs from the course you're playing at though, it will be easier to trick your boss if you show up with clubs. One thing to keep in mind is that if you go all out and get a setup like Tiger but play like someone who's never seen a par 4 before (AKA you) then they'll know something's up. A helpful tip is that it's easy to clean up the way your clubs look with a decent bag, organized clubs and some headcovers.

Step 2: How do I hit this &%# ball?!

Now that you're all setup and looking like someone who knows what they're doing, it's time to try and figure out what it is you're doing. There are a few important things to remember about golf.

  1. Contrary to popular belief, it is actually a sport (and a rather difficult one at that).

  2. Just because you can play baseball doesn't mean you'll be able to play golf.

  3. No matter how good you get, it can be infuriating at times.

Surprisingly enough, the golf swing is relatively simple. I won't bore you with details, but before you start try to keep these things in mind;

  • Stand in a relaxed, athletic position; feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, and bent over at the hips.

  • Grip the golf club with your arms hanging down; don't reach for it or crowd yourself. Your power comes from your core. Would you try to lift a bucket of water with your arms outstretched as far as possible?

  • Pull your arms back straight like a pendulum on a grandfather clock. Keep both arms straight and break your wrists at the top.
  • Pause at the peak of your swing. Your pullback is not part of your actual swing, it isn't baseball, remember?
  • Make a smooth swing by bringing the club back down naturally. Everyone wants to hit it hard and far, but it will be less annoying to your playing partners if you only hit it 120 yards at a time in the fairway and not 160 yards into the trees.

With these things in mind, get a bucket of balls (or three) and make controlled swings, with the goal of hitting solid shots, not the range cart driver. You're not going to win your first time out, so really just focus on advancing the ball. If you do this a few times before you play you should be able to not make a (total) ass of yourself.

Step 3: Time to play!

It's finally Saturday morning and you have a 10:10 tee time. Try to get to the course at least 30 minutes early so you can putt and maybe hit a bucket of range balls, some last minute practice will never hurt. Once you get onto the first tee, you're on your own, but here are some parting thoughts for your first round:

  • As I said before, golf is a gentleman's sport. No matter how angry you get don't slam a club, curse, or act like a jackass. You'll get respect from your playing partners if you can manage to do this.

  • Use common sense during your round. Don't talk while someone else is swinging, try to be courteous to your playing partners, and don't hit on the snack cart girl (this is negotiable.)

  • Don't get drunk! Golf, like bowling, is a sport which drinking is often associated. However with golf, unlike with bowling, you don't get better when you drink. You get annoying. Keep it under control.

  • Thank your playing partners at the end of the round, this will leave them with a good impression, even if your golf game didn't.

These tips should get you through without embarrassing yourself (or hurting anyone). It might seem like a lot, but by making yourself a regular in your boss's golf game, you can almost guarantee you'll get a better shot at a good promotion.

Adam has been playing golf for 17 years (handicap 6) and was a member of the Penn State golf team while in college.

AC currently lives in New Jersey.