Boogie’s Burgers co-owner Kipp Teghtmeyer has been golfing for most of his life. From the six-hole sand greens at Ghost Lake as a kid to the pro courses at Palm Springs as an adult, he’s long been a fixture on the links, logging more than 50 rounds any given year.
“Most of the time, it’s about getting away from everything. You focus on that silly ball. You don’t think about too much else going on. It’s a good solid four hours of meditation for me for the most part,” he says.
Yet golf also has provided Teghtmeyer valuable lessons that he’s taken off the course. He points to parallels between the game of golf and business that he’s relied on when deciding to recently expand the iconic restaurant from its home on Edmonton Trail to a second location in Marda Loop.
“In golf, you need to pay attention to all parts of your game to be successful. You can drive the ball all you want. You still need to know how to putt,” he says.
“What I mean by that is you can market your business really well, but you also need to have your operations under control. If you can drive but can’t chip, you’re done. If you have a good product but can’t market it, you have a problem. You need to have a well-rounded game to be successful both on and off the course.
“We at Boogie’s spent a lot of years doing everything really well and not really marketing to our full potential. Once we started doing that, we found the ability to open a second restaurant and possibly a third quite a lot easier.”
Golf has been referred to as a game of life – an infallible test that depends less on the strength of body and more on the strength of mind and character. Perhaps not surprisingly then, golf has also become synonymous with business where a person’s chip shot might tell you more about them than you would think.
“Getting out for a round with someone will tell you everything you need to know about them,” says Carson Ackroyd, senior vice-president of sales with Tourism Calgary. “Do they overinflate how good they are? Do they under-inflate? You learn a lot about someone’s character – not only how they play and how they react, but how they position themselves.
Ackroyd, who used to compete on the junior circuit, will typically get in 40 to 50 rounds annually. The acorn didn’t fall far from the tree, either. His daughter, Annabelle, has been the Alberta junior champion for the past two years and is currently a freshman at the University of Minnesota on a golf scholarship.
According to Ackroyd, Calgary offers an abundance of opportunities to mix business with pleasure, with a multitude of private and semi-private courses within the city alongside award-winning greens in nearby Kananaskis.
Having so many options ultimately gives the city a competitive advantage when looking to attract a crowd.
“Calgary and the surrounding area offer world-class golf that people travel from all around the world to play on,” says Ackroyd. “Having so many exceptional courses within an hour’s drive from Calgary provides high-calibre courses that attract high-quality clients. They will travel to golf here, and will stay longer to have that experience.
“I’ve run a number of different sales teams, and we have regularly had top-level clients wanting to come out and experience our courses. With that is your ability to go and connect with the right people and take your business to the next level.”
For Corinne Lyall, golf is often part of doing business. Between industry tournaments, client meetings and team building, the broker/owner of Royal LePage Benchmark and past president of CREB says some of the best deals and collaborations happen miles away from the boardroom.
“It’s a good way to gift your clients or promote connections,” says Lyall. “If you go consistently, you’re going to meet people. It’s that other avenue to build relationships.”
She also notes it’s an opportunity to connect with fellow real estate professionals – many of whom she might never otherwise meet.
“In our business, so much of it has become technology focused that you don’t always get to meet the real estate professional when you do a deal with them,” she says. “So something like an association or membership-type golf tournament gives you that opportunity to meet them and be able to have that relationship built before you have that next deal with them.”
Jerry Koonar also uses golf as a way to expand his network. The Calgary-based vice-president and portfolio manager at Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel says he gets two to three rounds in a week during the season, most often with associates and both current and potential clients.
“It’s a tool I use and continue to use,” he says. “I’ll often golf with people from within my network of accountants, lawyers and others who have contributed to my client base. It gives us a social opportunity to discuss business and things outside of business.
“We’ll also see if they have a client they would like to bring along, and use that as an introduction to myself, the firm and hopefully other discussions down the road.”
He adds that, unlike other sports, golf provides an intimate social environment to get to know someone better.
“You’re not offered that opportunity in many business settings – that opportunity to share a considerable amount of time with somebody,” he says. “After four hours in a cart together, you’re going to start by talking about family or current affairs, but it will eventually turn to business.”
Golf is also useful in the investment world where a phrase like “playing the long game” is interchangeable with building portfolios and hitting for par.
“I could remind a client that investing is like a four-day tournament,” he says. “We’re helping you set up a plan so you can be successful over the four days. And even though the first nine holes on the first day might not go the way you want, we’ve got a plan in place that’s long term and strategic to get you to the end goal at the end of the four days.
“It’s more about focusing on long term, making sure you’re delivering the right shots.”
Lyall echoes Koonar, noting golf can teach the importance of focusing on the bigger picture. “Golf, like business, can be very frustrating, but your game can improve when you don’t hold onto things,” she says. “It’s not about getting worked up about how you do on that last hole. It’s not about what you do last. It’s about what you do the next time you’re out there.
“You can make that analogy to life, as well. People who hang onto their failures are doomed to repeat them. Yet if you learn from them and take responsibility and move forward, your game is going to improve, and so will your decisions in life.
“I golfed last weekend and the first nine was not great for any of us. But the last nine was a different story. It’s the sum of the game that really makes the difference.”