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Golf for Attorneys: How to Close a Deal on 19th Hole

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on May 22, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

With golf season in full swing, business golf outings can be a potential moneymaker for savvy rainmakers. So what are the best ways for attorneys to tee up and "close the deal" after a round on the so-called 19th hole?

It helps to think of golf as "a looking glass into how people think," a professional golfer told Inc. magazine. Games typically last four or five hours -- ample time to figure out if your fellow players are client-worthy, and if so, how best to win them over.

Here are seven tips to help you perfect your game when it comes to business golf:

  1. Don't suck at golf. A four-hour game will reveal how good a golfer you really are, so take lessons or risk looking like a pretentious fool, Bloomberg Businessweek advises. Learn and follow the rules of the game, and adhere to the golf club's dress code. 

  2. Observe other players. A golfer's behavior reflects personality traits. Claims of a low or high handicap, if proven false, may show a penchant for deception, a pro golfer writes for the website Other red flags: Golfers who don't count penalty strokes, blame everyone but themselves, and those who flat-out cheat. Tread carefully if you see any of these on the back nine.

  3. Don't bet on it. Wagering on a business golf game can foster resentment, and usually isn't worth it, Businessweek says. If a potential client loses your "friendly" $100 bet, you may lose his lucrative business forever.

  4. Don't drink and putt. Business golf is not a weekend golf outing with your buddies. Sloshiness leads to sloppiness, and isn't how you put your best foot forward (if you can even stand up properly). You don't want the drunk lawyer who five-putted every green.

  5. Don't use expletives... unless everyone else is. In which case, at least try to be f***ing creative, as people are judging you by your wit, one business consultant writes.

  6. Just have fun. Focusing too much on winning (or losing) may cut into your game. Likewise, focusing too much on the business aspect of the outing may make you seem like a workaholic or just a competitive ass. Golf can be a good walk spoiled, but it doesn't have to be when you're trying to land a client.

Bottom line: Business golf is meant to combine work with pleasure. By taking advantage of both, you can close the deal on the 19th hole and perhaps find yourself rolling in the green.

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