CORPORATE golf days have come a long way over the past decade. They are slick, professional and highly competitive, with numerous businesses and clubs chasing patronage.
It’s a far cry from the days when the golf ran a distant second to booze – when the main job for the organisers was to ensure there was a different brand of beer or spirits at each tee.
Which is not to say corporate golf days can’t be good fun.
The thousands of people who participate each year are testament to the popularity of these networking occasions.
But like all corporate entertaining, golf days must deliver a business benefit.
And corporate hosts want the event to enhance their professional reputation.
For some people, corporate golf days present a rare opportunity to play on Perth’s top private courses, such as Cottesloe, Royal Perth and Royal Fremantle.
They also present an opportunity to play at someone else’s expense on top quality resort courses such as The Vines, Joondalup Resort and Araluen, which normally charge more than $100 for a round on the weekend.
And while most golfers in Perth never use a motorised cart, corporate events present a good excuse to jump on board.
Watching an over-enthusiastic amateur send their cart into the water adds to the fun.
Just as Perth has a wide spectrum of golf courses, so too is there a wide spectrum of corporate golf days.
Public courses including Wembley, Burswood Park and Collier Park, which are high quality, reasonably priced and readily available, are also popular venues.
The number of participants in corporate golf days can be as few as 20 and as many as 200 or more.
The most common number is about 40, according to Peter Maidment, course controller at Wembley.
Big corporate golf days, especially those hosted by industry associations, will often have corporate sponsors and prizes for each hole.
If the numbers are big enough, the organisers can book an entire course.
This allows a ‘shotgun’ start, meaning corporate groups tee off simultaneously on 18 different holes – and, in theory, they all finish at the same time. The other piece of jargon that is the saviour of hack golfers is ‘ambrose’.
Under ambrose rules, each player takes their next shot from the lie of the best ball in their group.
So instead of having to belt your ball out of the bush, you can pick it up and place it on the fairway next to the best ball.
This evens up the game and enables all groups to move around the course at a reasonable pace.
Its also means that hack golfers need to produce just one great shot to feel they have contributed to the team score.
The challenge for event organisers is to ensure that hack golfers are teamed with quality players.
There is nothing worse than having four hack golfers struggling to keep up with every other group.
Corporate golf has become increasingly competitive, for both the hosts of the event and for the courses.
The competition reflects, on the one side, the large number of groups hosting corporate golf days, and on the other, the time pressure that seems to afflict most working people these days.
Alan Brown, director of corporate golf for Golf West, which manages Burswood Park, is adamant that corporate golf days can be time and money well spent.
He compares corporate golf days, which allow, say, 60 people to spend six or seven hours together, with the time and cost of taking clients out for lunch or dinner.
“In the scheme of things, it’s an incredibly efficient way of meeting and networking,” Mr Brown said.
Efficiency and value of money is in the eye of the beholder.
While most of us are happy with a good course and a few beers at the end of the golf, many companies want to go the extra distance.
Hence the popularity of corporate golf days at resort courses, where guests can be treated with lunch before tee off, refreshment carts around the course and a good meal after the game.
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