Low-key prospecting at the golf club

By Bryce Sanders | March 24, 2014 | Last updated on September 21, 2023
3 min read

The snow’s finally melting, and that means golf season’s right around the corner. If you belong to a club, it’s a great opportunity to cultivate prospects.

You can do this on and off the course. For tips on how to get conversations going on the links, see my article, Prospecting on the Golf Course. Here are some ways to get it done in the clubhouse.

Basic strategies

Raising your visibility at the club is similar to doing it elsewhere. Only now, the universe of possible prospects is strictly defined.

1. First impressions matter: Get it right the first time because members talk to each other and a bad first impression could undermine later efforts.

2. Who, What, Why: Everyone needs to know Who you are, What you do and Why you’re good. You have a long timeline so don’t force it.

Read: Prospecting on vacation

3. Committees: Golf clubs have several and they need volunteers. Getting involved with the social committee is a good way to meet lots of people under pleasant circumstances.

4. Newsletter: Visibility can translate into credibility. A California advisor I know wrote a travel column for his club newsletter. It focused on clubs with reciprocal visiting privileges. It didn’t say a word about investing, but included his name and contact information.

5. Awards Dinner: The same advisor sponsored a trophy at the tournament awards dinner. It gave him visibility and name recognition.

Executive’s Strategies

Country clubs are part of the wealthy neighborhood landscape. So how do you meet people? A former senior manufacturing executive suggests these strategies.

1. Know the right people: Bartenders and the maitre d’ are gatekeepers. They know everyone, so treat them well. Chat with them as peers; tip often and lavishly.

How it works (1): They can point out new arrivals and supply background detail. You approach them and start a conversation.

How it works (2): They approach new members, point you out and suggest, “He’s a person you should meet. He knows everybody.”

2. Start bar conversations: Become a clubhouse regular and sit at the bar. As seats fill up, engage the next person in conversation. Get them to ask you what you do.

How it works: “I’m glad to relax at last. This is a really busy time of year for me.” Stop talking. They ask: “How so? Are you an accountant?” You respond: “I’m a financial advisor. Client’s accountants call needing documentation, often on short notice. Keeping clients happy keeps us hopping.”

Read: Charm wealthy prospects

Lottery Winner’s Strategies

A former sea captain who won the lottery retired to a luxury area. He and his wife belong to the yacht club. He offered these tips:

1. “Seat us with anybody”: Clubs hold lots of parties. Often the response card asks whom you’d like to sit with. Sorting this out is a nightmare for the social committee. He writes, “Seat us with anybody” across that section.

How it works: At each event he meets new members or people from different social circles.

2. Talk on the buffet line: Brunch and casual dinners are often served buffet style. Don’t stand and chat with tablemates. Instead, speak with people ahead and behind your position in line.

How it works: Those quick conversations turn a stranger into an acquaintance. Identifying interests in common can follow when you bump into them around the club.

What to avoid

Different clubs have different rules. Those using the British model may prohibit business papers being shown in lounges. Even more relaxed clubs understand members don’t want to be buttonholed or solicited. It’s easy to step on a landmine.

1. The Realtor Blazer: Some real estate firms issue company logoed jackets. This attire screams, “I want to sell you something.” Doctors don’t wear scrubs at the country club bar. You shouldn’t be overt either. If your company supplied a sports jacket, leave it at home.

2. Pushing Professions: Most initial conversations get around to the question of what you do for a living. Try not to lead with the question and immediately launch into your elevator speech. Be fascinated with their field. Ask well thought out, non-controversial questions. Make them feel important.

3. Attitude: Insecure people often treat waiters and staff as servants. They want to imply they are wealthy and used to only the best service and highest standards. This alienates guests around you and put you in the staff’s bad graces.

Read: How rich prospects test you socially

Bryce Sanders

Bryce Sanders is President of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, PA. His book “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” is available on Amazon.com.