Early last week I came upon (was graciously given) two tickets to this week’s WGC Dell-Matchplay at Austin Country Club. While this is not my first PGA tournament to attend, it is my first time going to this one, and, more importantly, the first one for my current and hopefully last Capital R Roommate. She’s ecstatic, and as such has been posing several questions I’ve always just taken the answers to for granted. This made me realize going to a PGA event for the first time can be confusing to the point of intimidating. So, I thought I’d put together some tips for when you’re going to your first PGA event: the business round edition.
Don’t Commentate: Remember why you’re there. To watch golf. That means not only are you watching golf, but the people you invited/invited you are, also, watching golf. They don’t need your 10 handicap ass guessing what kind of shot Rory is going with. They also don’t care about that one hole in one you almost had. If you’ve never had a hole in one, then technically every tee shot that didn’t go in was “almost a hole in one.” Spending the day yammering incessantly about golf doesn’t impress everyone by showing them what a big golf brain you have. It shows them you’re so boring and one dimensional you can only talk about what’s right in front of you.
Remember why you’re there: Don’t get so caught up in the action you lose your opportunity. Obviously you can’t turn the tourney into a conference call, but the nice thing about golf tournaments is there’s plenty of downtime. Use that to your advantage and close the deal that brought you out here in the first place.
Don’t be afraid to overdress: Just because you’re at a sporting event does not give you license to show up in your lacrosse shorts and that one polo you keep in your car. While it’s also not a good idea to show up like you’re about to give the State of the Union, there is something to be said for being the highest dressed in the group. If you’re going to have people talk about you, better it’s because you were over rather than under prepared. This is, however, a double edged sword. How you dress will set the benchmark for how you’ll be expected to look at every other gathering outside of work, so maybe don’t blow your good suit on your first time being around these people.
It shouldn’t take more than one hand to count your drinks: Just like everything else in the business world, your presence at the tournament is transactional. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by getting so sauced you’re incapable of completing that transaction. When the drinks start flowing, and they will, be the 2nd least drunk person in the group. You won’t spook everyone by being acclaimed buzzkill Sober Stan, but you also won’t be so blitzed you lose your wits and can’t use everyone else’s glossed senses to your advantage.
Over prepare in every way you can: As I stated earlier, if you’re going to get talked about, let it be because you were too ready rather than because you got blindsided. Scope out the venue the night before. Learn the best places to spectate, the most logistically friendly concession tents, and what the port-a-potty situation is. Additionally, have all the necessary supplies. Bring more cash than you think you’ll need. They’ll have ATM’s, and everywhere will take cards, but having cash on you you don’t need is way better than taking your sad ass to the ATM because you can’t pull a 20 out for some beers. Pack some form of tobacco, as well as the tools for said tobacco. If you can get away with it, bring all the tobacco. Again, when the drinks start flowing, and they will, being Johnny on the spot with a dip or a lung dart is a fantastic look to give the people you’re trying to get something out of.
If you take away nothing else from this article, remember this: keep your goal in sight. PGA events are fun, but they’re full of distractions. Keep your head clear and do what you need to do to get the job done and keep the corporate invites coming. See you on the tee.