Career Enhancement: Leadership Skills You Can Learn From Golf

Leadership Skills and Golf

Did you know there are leadership skills you can learn from golf? It’s true – spending more time on the course can help your career!

leadership skills, golf

Want a valid excuse to spend more time on the golf course and less in front of the TV or at the office? The leadership skills you can learn from golf may be just that!

Golf has always been considered to be a gentleman—or gentlewoman’s—game. It’s elegant, it’s distinguished, and it requires great technique. And of course, it’s played in beautiful surroundings.

But it’s far more than just an elegant and enjoyable game. If you do it right, you can learn valuable leadership skills as you’re driving and putting… instead of sitting in that stuffy room fighting your way through a leadership course.

We’re not negating the importance of qualifications and courses here. Not at all – leadership courses have their place and can make a significant difference to a business.

But… We are certainly promoting golf as a thought-provoking, mentally stimulating, problem-solving game, and one which can have far wider-reaching effects on your life and career if you only let it.

Here are just some of the leadership skills you can learn from golf that will make you much more eager to hit the fairways in your spare time!

Decision-Making On The Go

Ah, decision-making… One of the biggest responsibilities, both in business and on the golf course. Learning to make decisions on the fly—to clarify, smart decisions, not just any decisions—is an invaluable skill that any business person needs if they want to see success.

decision making

Golf is loaded with decision-making opportunities from the very first tee and on every hole to follow. Do you hit it straight down the middle and hope to clear that water hazard, or go to the side and risk landing in the rough?

Which club should you pick to make sure you don’t overshoot the green and lose a shot? How powerfully do you need to hit against the wind for the ball to land where you want it to?

Although you aren’t required to make split-second, instinctual decisions like you may in faster-paced sports, you can’t linger too long on one hole or the people behind you will start getting uppity!

You’ll learn to make decisions on the go, execute them to the best of your ability, and then assess your next move from wherever you land.

Selling… Without Selling

Everyone knows that business is done on the golf course. It’s the ideal spot for a bit of business-related socializing in the hopes of closing a deal with your prospect. If you’re in a leadership position in a business, you’ll end up in a golf course business meeting sooner or later.

When you’re playing a round with a business prospect, you can’t just go for the throat as you would in a boardroom, though. You’re relaxed, friendly, and surrounded by nature. You’re two associates enjoying a round of golf… with an undertone of business.

Undertone is the important word here. Golf should come first and business should come second. You’ll have to learn to make your case for your product, service, or deal without actually selling to your prospect on the golf course.

It’s an important skill to have, because nobody really enjoys being sold to! Learning how to sell without obviously selling is something every business person needs to learn.

Dealing With Adversity

How do you react when your drive accidentally lands in the water? You can throw your clubs and get upset, but it’s not going to help… And your next shot may be compromised as a result.

Playing golf teaches you how to deal with adverse situations. A round of golf is never straightforward! Undulating fairways, curvy greens, and of course, golf course wind are obstacles, and at some point, you will be tripped up.

How you deal with it says a lot about you and your ethics. Learning how to handle adversity on the golf course stands you in good stead for doing the same in business (and in life).

Handling failures or difficulties with grace and winning with humility is an excellent foundation for building strong resilience in your business.

Keep in mind that your attitude on the golf course, in the office, and in the rest of life mirror each other. There’s no way to separate a bad attitude on the golf course from your attitude in the office.

Strategic Risk-Taking

Taking risks is an inevitable part of playing golf well. You can play it safe every single hole, every round, but you won’t become great or progress as much as you could if you’re never willing to take the risks.

On the golf course, taking a risk could be attempting to clear the water hazard on a risk/reward shot. In business, taking a risk could be hiring someone with little experience but an excellent attitude.

For risk-taking to be effective or to teach lessons, it must be strategic. Thought needs to go into the process, the possible outcomes, and the execution of the action. It also shouldn’t be done if there’s no need for it – no golfer would try to skirt the lake if it’s off to the side and not actually in play.

Constant Improvement of Skills

Complacency may be the greatest success killer! If you don’t take time to practice your golf swing, you’re not going to improve. It requires consistency, effort, and often the use of training aids or working on your form. If you don’t work on it, you’ll get left behind.

The same is true for business. If you’re not consistently making sure that you’re up to date with the latest protocols and upskilling yourself to stay competitive in the market, you’re going to fall behind in the business world.

Ethical Behavior

Unethical business is the quickest way to make enemies… And possibly even do some jail time! While cheating on the golf course won’t land you in a cell, it definitely can make you some enemies… Especially if you golf regularly with clients or colleagues.

Dishonesty on the course is a sign of dishonesty in business. Like a bad attitude, it permeates every aspect of your life, so don’t be tempted to cheat when your ball lands in the water and nobody notices. Even when people do see, stay honest, stay ethical, and you’ll gain the reputation of someone to be trusted.

A Mentor Is Always A Good Idea

Learning how to be a great golfer is generally far easier when you have an experienced coach. They have the know-how to spot flaws in your swing, help you fix them, and cultivate a strategic playing mind. A great coach can take you from mid-handicapper to pro faster than you thought possible.

In the same vein, if you truly want to get ahead in business, find a mentor. An experienced business person who’s learned their own lessons can be invaluable for advice, learning, and bouncing ideas off. In fact, 100% of US Fortune 50 companies have mentoring programs, which makes you think, doesn’t it?


Where better to bolster your leadership skills than on the golf course? It’s the game of businessmen and women, played in spectacular surroundings, and when played mindfully, can teach you a thing or two about business and life.

Whether in the boardroom or on the golf course, it’s clear that what you put into it plays a large role in determining what you get out! The leadership skills you can learn from golf will only be relevant to you if you make the effort to improve both your on-course game and your boardroom success.

If you were looking for an excuse to leave the office early and hit the driving range, this is it! Play with mindful concentration, stay calm, and use your critical thinking skills. Do it at least once a week (if not more) and you may be surprised at how things change!

About the Author

Jordan Fuller is a golfer and a businessman and understands how one influences the other. When he’s not working on his own game or mentoring young golfers, he’s researching and writing high-value articles for his website, Golf Influence.

Photo by VitalikRadko on Depositphotos

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