In these times of economic slowdown when companies look for ways to cut costs, golf is topping the charts when it comes to corporates mixing business with pleasure.
Largely perceived as the pursuit of elite, it is one sport in which you can swing the club and a business deal imultaneously. Since most companies already having membership to golf clubs, the recreational costs are under control.
Vishal Seth, a Bangalore-based businessman in Mumbai on a business trip, however insists that the networking aspect of golf is grossly exaggerated. He says, “I do meet corporate biggies on the golf course but not all the associations translate into business deals. Still, whenever I am in Mumbai, the greens are definitely a place to bond with fellow businessmen."
Seth has been playing golf for many years now. His four-hours plus sessions on the golf course every Sunday, readies him to tackle the week ahead.
In Mumbai, the Bombay Presidency Golf Club is an old favourite. The defence services’ U S Club offers a stunning sea-view and is difficult to play on because the grass is different. The Royal Palms country resort also has a well-designed golf course but visitors say it has yet to live up to its initial promise.
Top courses in the country include the one at Noida and Sahara’s Lake City but most city corporates prefer the Bombay Presidency in Chembur.
Sunita Tandon, H R executive at a multinational company, believes that in golf, you are competing against yourself and nature rather than another individual. This heightens the enjoyment. She adds, “It is also the perfect setting to mix business with pleasure as golf crazy honchos mingle.”
Vivek Mishra, a Hyderabad-based businessman in Mumbai on business, believes that golf suits corporate sensibilities. “It also encourages concentration and focus, qualities that help at the workplace. The game is a good exercise yet is not so strenuous that one had to drop it as one grow older,” he points out.
Mishra adds that the impression that golf is the sport of the rich and the famous is a misconception. Annual membership at a golf club is nearly the same as that of a high-priced gym.
For the younger crowd, today there is a wide range of golf accessories available and these are becoming popular among executives too.
Ajay Sharma, an entrepreneur, says. “My golf buddies, who also happen to be business associates, bond over golf clubs and clothes.”
An average golf club costs between Rs 20,000 and Rs 50,000, depending on the brand. Beginners can hunt for bargains on second-hand clubs. A club usually lasts out for about ten years.
Compared to the strict dress codes in the past, golf wear is a more relaxed polo over slacks these days. However the right kind of shoes is a must to preserve the grass.
A caddy comes for as little as Rs 100. Ball losses can be steep though in the initial stages, but regulars have learnt to pick up extra lots during trips abroad and train with a pro regularly to stay in shape.