by Sarah J.F. Braley | January 01, 2007

The Meadows at the Greenbrier

Long and short tees:
The Meadows at
the Greenbrier,
White Sulphur Springs,

For people who don’t play the game, joining up with the golfers in their midst can seem like trying to get into the popular clique in high school. Players have that golf look, they carry cool gadgets, they know all the game’s esoteric etiquette and rules, and, well, they know how to swing a club.

It’s a pretty intimidating scenario for someone who wants to learn the game, yet golf often is the only formal recreation offered during a meeting. Plus, attendees who don’t play can miss out on some great networking opportunities. So how does a planner make beginning golfers feel welcome out on the course? The following will help you set up an event that coddles the neophytes without ruining the day for the “pros.”

Group dynamics

Just following a directive to bring more attendees into the golf fold does not necessarily mean you should open up a long-standing event to people who have never held a club.

The key is understanding what your players expect to get from your outing and what kind of tone has been set in the past. For the neophyte, you have to make the day all about fun. If yours is a serious event, where the competition is fierce, beginners will be lost. You should consider planning a side event to introduce them to the game (see “Separate but Equal,” next page).

Too many nerves come into play for the new golfer who becomes part of such an outing, where the scoring is the focal point. “The first thing is to take as much pressure off them as you can,” says Dave Bisbee, director of instruction for Seven Canyons Golf Club in Sedona, Ariz., and director of the eGolf Group, which focuses on executive development. You have to make the day fun for all the participants, he adds.