Golf is the name of the game in corporate circles

Elise T Chisolm

September 27, 1990|By Elise T Chisolm

YOU HIT A BALL and walk after it, and then you hit it again and walk after it. It's not even an important looking ball, it's small and dimpled, and you can't whack at it right away -- you have to be polite and wait. And people do this for hours!

As a tennis player, I think this would be frustrating. In tennis you move a lot faster, you and the ball get to bounce.

But golf is one of America's most important sports.

My friend Pammy is taking up golf. She says that she suddenly realized that the men in her office play golf constantly and they seem to get promoted faster than the women.

"And they are always bragging about their scores, golf that is, and it makes all the women feel left out," she says.

"So we have decided to start a woman's golf team and compete. There's a company charity benefit coming up and we plan to enter it and win. More deals are made on the golf course than in the board room, and it doesn't take a Roper poll to know that."

And I confirm. Golf is a corporate game. And as you climb the rickety ladder to success, it's just as important to know which clubs to use on the course as it is to know which fork to use at the company dinner.

"Our VPs brag about their golf techniques more than their sexual conquests," Pammy says. "I've heard them discuss other people's investments after a weekend on the golf course. And listen to this, our company's merger came after a weekend golf tourney. So a bunch of us from middle management are taking lessons. Golf is an old boy network sport, and we want to infiltrate it. . . . Besides it's good for stress they say."

"Do any of you know how to play?" I ask.

"Nope, but I've seen it on television, so I know the difference between a birdie and a bogey. And I know a sand trap looks like an inverted sand dune. However, golf is not the same as on TV, the ball gets smaller when it's the one you have to hit. But heck," Pammy says, "it can't be that hard, old people play it, fat people play it, and Rod in our office plays it and he slips on paper clips and can't work his own computer."

"One CEO told me he got his job with the company on the fourth tee when a vice president said to him, 'I like your style, John.' Of course, he never knew whether it was his golf, his office demeanor, or his new Ralph Lauren golf outfit. Already I have wasted a lot of money on skirts, shirts and sweat bands, and so far I have not sweated."

"At the first lesson we learned the grip and the swing, and then we were given a ball. I never hit the ball, but I did manage to hit the bucket of balls near me. What surprises me is that I'm not better at it. You know, I can hit a fly with a rubber band in the office, a trick I learned in my childhood."

"How much are your lessons?" I ask.

"They are 40 bucks an hour, but I think I'm going to have to furnish my own balls and replace some turf. I will probably have to take lessons until it snows, or hell freezes over."

After she has mastered this corporate golf thing, I really want to hear that Pammy is being promoted.

Mother used to say it is not what you know but who you know. Pammy says it's not what you know but how you play the game.

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