The Best U.S. Golf Courses (for Any Kind of Client)
By Chris Matyszczyk
/ CBS NEWS
By Chris Matyszczyk
When it comes to wooing a client on the golf course, it's generally assumed that the best approach is to head to a famous course—the more famous, the better. That's not always the right assumption. After all, not all famous golf courses may be appropriate for every business occasion. With that in mind, here are five suggestions for golf courses and the specific sort of client who might enjoy them most.
This is, perhaps, as pure as golf gets. Yes, you could take your client somewhere fancier. Yes, you could saunter off to some pricey resort. But if you take him to Bethpage Black you can show your client that you are a purist who knows that, even in golf, money isn't everything. Bethpage Black's green fee for a New York resident is, on a weekday, a mere $65. Even those who come from some of the more civilized areas of the U.S. only have to pay twice that.
For your money, you get the finest investment that golf can offer. The signal you're sending to your client is that you understand money. And that you understand golf. The course of your game on this astounding state-owned godsend might endure several undulations. However, the sheer pleasure of being there will surely make the course of business run smoother than a PR veteran's mouth.
What's the point of taking someone who's no good at golf to the most famous—and therefore most difficult—courses in the country? Your client will be miserable. Which will make you miserable. Which will make business go miserably. Instead, take him to Wente, which, despite being dangerously close to a nuclear weapons testing laboratory, is a joy for anyone with eyes, tongue, and stomach. For not only is the beautiful (and fair) Greg Norman-designed course an utter spirit-lifter, but it's built around vineyards that yield extraordinary wines that linger on the palate like a cherished dessert. There also happens to be a very fine restaurant, as well as open-air concerts that run into October and feature acts such as Diana Ross and the Chris Isaak. If you can't do business at Wente, you can't do business at all.
Your client is the sort who might best be described as demanding. She always asks for more, because she always believes she deserves more. You're happy to give her a lot more, if only it were for a little more money. So, when you learn that she loves golf, you offer her a challenge: whoever gets closest to the pin at Sawgrass' famous 17th hole can dictate the terms of the contract for the next three months. Until the next round at Sawgrass, when the challenge begins all over again. The 17th is the famous island green, which can be reached with a very short iron. The thing is, the water around it can be reached with the same short iron too. It can frustrate the most talented. Sometimes your client might win, sometimes you might. It all should balance out in the end and serve as a backdrop to a longer lasting and more enjoyable business relationship. Most people believe that the 17th hole was just one of the many dastardly creations of the famous course designer, Pete Dye. In fact, the island green was his wife's idea. She demanded a little more, well, creativity. And she got it.
Some things are unavoidable. Sometimes the bullet has to be bitten and the client has to be accepted for who he or she really is. Pebble Beach is still Pebble Beach. The greens might not be perfect, the atmosphere a little corporate. But you can still enjoy the sheer wonder of standing on the 7th tee with a 60-degree wedge in your hand, wondering if it's the right club—while your client can enjoy buying as many shirts, sweaters, balls, markers, tea mugs, and swizzle sticks with the Pebble Beach logo as his ego demands. Some clients really do just want to tell their friends where they've golfed. If that's your client, then Pebble Beach is your answer. Perhaps organize to meet your client there on a Friday, so that you can spend the rest of the weekend playing the arguably more amusing and aesthetically pleasing Spyglass Hill.
There's something helpful about leaving the mainland for an entirely different atmosphere. It might just get your client to understand precisely how sorry you are that, just this once, you provided a service akin to that of a Moldovan barkeep. First-class tickets to Kauai are, of course, a fine start. But, given that your client loves golf, how can you turn that into a renewed love for you? Prince Golf Course might well offer the setting for a saving of your business marriage.
The views, the undulations, the usual Robert Trent Jones Jr.'s design all contribute to an experience that is far removed from the ugliness of everyday existence. How can your client not love it? How can your client not forget just how mad he was when you told him what you'd done? How can your client not say "thank you" and give you just one more chance? The Prince Golf course is on the northern, quieter side of Kauai. It is, therefore, Valium, Percocet, and Vicodin all wrapped up in one perfectly narcotic golfing experience.