Has corporate golf had its day?

Male golfers bondingIt might have been with us for decades, but the corporate golf day is still an effective business tool.

In 2014, the world is your oyster when it comes to corporate entertainment. Whether you are looking to strengthen your relationship with current clients or entice prospective clients (or both), there’s no shortage of corporate hospitality specialists offering weird and wonderful ways of showing your customers a good time. From clown schools and cookery classes through to corporate areas at festivals, the endless quest for novelty can sometimes be a little exhausting.

Against this backdrop, it’s easy to forget some of the more tried and tested methods of business entertainment. Take the traditional corporate golf day for instance. Far from being hopelessly old-fashioned, this remains one of the best ways of showing your clients you care. Here’s why…

You can tailor an event specific to your budget

How much money do you have to play with? This is usually the starting point when determining how far you can push the boat out with any corporate hospitality event. On doing your research, you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised by the range of options available. On the one hand, if you want a round of golf on a championship standard course followed by an a-la-carte lunch in a Michelin-starred dining room, there’s no shortage of premium packages (i.e. in the region of £500 upwards per head) out there.

At the other end of the scale, there are plenty of sub-£100 (and even sub-£50) per head options to consider. Remember that there’s no automatic correlation between the success of your event and how much money you spend (and there’s no rule that says you have to use on-site caterers). A morning spent on a quiet course followed by hog roast and drinks at a carefully selected country pub: satisfaction guaranteed – without causing too many sleepless nights for your accounts department.

You get flexibility

A golf course will generally accommodate up to 72 players at any one time without the risk of an annoying logjam. You can of course book the entire course for a large group. Equally, a golf day works just as well for a more select party. This is of course one of the few sports where individuals of different abilities can genuinely compete against each other.

You don’t necessarily have to play all 18 holes either. To mix things up a little, how about offering tuition master class followed by the bottom 9 – or even a par-3 course? Think about putting different options to your clients.

You get time to communicate

The problem with a box at Twickenham or seats at Centre Court is that you and your clients are likely to be so engrossed with what’s happening, there’s little opportunity to talk. What do you want to achieve through your corporate event? Is it to put on a show? Is it to provide a backdrop for building or strengthening a relationship? Is it (most likely) a combination o the two?

Some of the more quirky corporate entertainment ideas can seem more about spectacle than engagement. With a golf day, things are more relaxed. It gives you a few hours’ quality time in a neutral setting. Use that time wisely (and don’t bore your guests with a 3-hour long sales pitch).

Giving your clients what they want

There are around 3.5 million golfers in the UK. Tellingly, the figures seem to show the casual golfer would like to get out more but is hampered by demands on his or her time. By hosting a corporate golf day, you could be giving your clients just the excuse they’ve been looking for to dust down their club bags.

As with all corporate entertaining, it’s a matter of understanding your client base and knowing what’s likely to appeal to them. Equally, do your research when it comes to sourcing an appropriate venue. Visit the course yourself before the day and get a feel for the place. Is it a safe environment? Does it have golf insurance in place? Is it welcoming? What are tee waiting times like if you intend to bring a small group?

Sometimes the old ideas are the most effective – and a corporate golf day remains one of the best ways of showing your business at its best.

Bluefin Sport is one of the UK’s leading independent insurance brokers, providing specialist insurance and risk management services to individuals and businesses.