My instructor watches patiently as I try to relax my grip on the 8-iron and let the club drop forward ever so slightly, while at the same time keeping my back straight and my butt out, with just a little flex in the knees, but not too much. Staying balanced on the balls of my feet, thinking about stretch and speed, about following through the swing so it lifts my right foot off the ground and sends the ball flying straight and high. The tension mounts and I'm thinking, “Ha, this is why I never took up golf. Too stressful.”
Then PGA pro Jon Hazelwood, who has just brought me step-by-step from zero knowledge to proper golf posture, tells me to stop, turn around, and face the rolling emerald fairway and towering pine trees ahead of us. We're on course No. 8 at Pinehurst, N.C., and the bucolic scenery is breathtaking. “Look where we are,” says Jon. “Look how beautiful it is. The point is not how well you play. Golf is about having a good time.”
This advice is a great relaxation technique. On my next swing I'm rewarded with a solid whack as the club makes contact and the ball sails up and away. It becomes clear why people get hooked on the game.
What I also learn while attending the Krisam Insurance Advisory Board meeting in late May (see page 20), is how a mixed group of golfers and nongolfers can enjoy a golf resort. On our first evening at Pinehurst — home of the U.S Open in 1999 and 2005 — we team up in twosomes for a putting competition on a lighted lawn. Golf neophytes like me aren't intimidated, and the serious players among us are happy to get clubs in their hands and have a bit of practice. It's fun, and a great ice-breaker; I get to know several new business friends.
On another day, we're treated to a golf and trick shot demonstration by Buddy Shelton, a “golf personality” who has us in awe of his skills and in stitches from his hilarious commentary. He manages to drive unbelievably long shots from positions that range from sitting on the ground to hitting moving balls out of mid-air. When he selects one of our group to try a trick shot with an extra-long club, tears of laughter roll down my face. This guy makes golf entertaining even to those of us who have no particular interest in the game.
And that's the real lesson. Most insurance incentives bring together golfers and nongolfers alike — and it's your job to make the meeting memorable for everyone. Read our cover story beginning on page 26 to get the skinny from five financial services planners who have a track record of mounting smooth-running golf events. And check out ICP's first annual corporate golf awards on page 32: the six best places to play in the U.S. as chosen by you, our readers.
Enjoy the rest of the summer, whether on or off the links!