Bonding over birdies and beverages

By H.K. Kim, Contributor

Lakeview at McCormick RanchPHOENIX - Courting that all important client can be a lot like dating. There's plenty of wooing, coddling and finally,winning over. In business, when a hefty chunk of dinero isinvolved, getting to that last stage is a lot like hitting a hole-in-one,hard-as-hell but doable.

So, how does one crack that "golden egg?"

A membership to an exclusive club is not a bad start. I hearfrom a very reliable source the president of Arizona's leading supplier forthe defense industry holds a membership at McCormick Ranch.

One of the Valley's older courses, the Desmond Muirhead design offers twodistinct avenues of play with its Palm and Pine courses. McCormick'ssignature hole, the Palm's par-4 ninth hole is like a fine-tuned chess game.Should you play the hole and risk the water hazard or play right and risklosing par?

Once the tee time's set, spending a little quality time with a client never hurts either. Using the moments on the course getting to know each other's hobbies, favorite teams, family etc eases the client into that trust zone you've been so lovingly and eagerly fluffing for their arrival. You can almost hear the word "no" disappearing from their vocabulary.

Dan Kronenberg, a sales associate for 1st Signs, a Phoenix-based signcompany, sums up the general rule of thumb, "It's just another part ofsales. Let the client get to know you so they trust and believe in you. It'seasier to do business when they're not scared of getting ripped off."

Look North at Talking StickThe course of choice for the five handicapper is Scottsdale's Talking Stick North. The Scottish-style links course features deep, well-placed bunkers with a standard pace of four hours-plenty of time to sell your version of the best mousetrap.

Designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, Kronenberg favors the par-3 12thhole a.k.a. "Red Mountain Gambler." If you've been hitting left theunexpected transition to the right can catch you off guard, right into thebunker.

For some, lubing the ears of valuable clients with talk of business isnot par for course. Some clients really are there to play the game and itmight seem rude and intrusive to pitch while they're putting.

"I'm not even talking about the product," says Geoffrey Turbow, a commercial leasing agent with Levrose Real Estate Investments and Brokerage in Scottsdale. "Ultimately, they're buying because they like you and when you're on the course it's personalized. They're getting to know you," he says.

His favorite, the Palmer course at Desert Ridge's Wildfire Golf Club, isa desert-style gem with Camelback Mountain as its dramatic backdrop. Thechampionship course boasts a length of 7,170 yards, generous fairways andlarge bent-grass greens, averaging 7,000 square feet. The short par-3 fifthhole defies the player to overcome its six surrounding bunkers.

Prime back nine at Gold CanyonOf course the real wheeling and dealing doesn't start until the 19thhole.

After a round at Wildfire, the serious winers and diners head over to Meritage Steakhouse. There's plenty of time to talks shop while enjoying the impressive wine list, Black Angus prime steaks and sweeping outdoor views of the rolling fairways.

After playing one of the best back nines in the Valley at Gold Canyon, thirsty and hungry execs can head into Greenwood's. With a menu of satisfying comfort food, six beers on tap and 10 TVs playing the latest and greatest sporting events, this friendly neighborhood bar and grill should score you some major brownie points with those hard-to-please clients.

Even as the trend for business entertaining takes an extremeroute with such activities as skydiving and aerial combat flying, golfremains a loyal and trusted favorite for the business set. After all, wasthere ever a game so perfectly suited for sealing the deal?

H.K. Kim, Contributor


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