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Golf Matters

Getting to the top takes a lot. It takes brains, dedication, confidence, communication skills, and, as it turns out, a low handicap.
The golf course has become the ultimate conference room. Clubs and spikes are as essential to success as an MBA and a Palm Pilot. Discussing Tiger now conjures images of a Nike spokesman, not an investment company. Go Tiger!

If golf is such an important social aspect of business leadership, perhaps it should be part of the curriculum at HBS. But with only 53% of the Class of 2003 reporting an interest in golf, how are we to compete? Do we lose our competitive advantage by not putting perfectly? Perhaps those who have mastered their drives and chip shots will beat us to the board time and time again. Hm.

Maybe golf should be taught in Foundations. Instead of making greeting cards and listening to Tylenol lectures, we should be dividing into foursomes and hitting the greens. At the very least, there should be a mini-module on golf terminology.

HBS is supposed to teach us all we need to know to take over the world, yet the unspoken characteristics we all must possess clearly get acquired quietly along the way. Sure, they gave us some squash courts in Shad. That was a step in the right direction. But if recreational activities really do matter to our professional lives, let’s take these two years to really round ourselves out.

Or, maybe when we get out, we could change the role of golf to really improve the well-being of society. We could restrict Pebble Beach to teams of friends, not colleagues. We could be mindful of all those who didn’t grow up with acres of rolling hills in their backyards from important business deals, and we could strive to literally even out the playing field. If you love it, by all means do it. But if you’re the other half: it’s okay. Tee-times be gone. Take your evenings and weekends off.

March 4, 2002
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