It’s no secret that business deals often happen on the golf course. We see it in movies and in real life all the time. Golfing is the perfect, non-threatening way to do business in the modern world.
With this age-old knowledge in mind, Rich Rogers, CEO of On Course Insurance, made the no-brainer decision to found a golf-based networking group, 6 Degrees Golf, seventeen years ago. And the results have proved fruitful.
“I play golf and I sell insurance. Those are the only two things I know,” he laughed.
Rogers found the perfect way to bring his passion for golf and his business together. 6 Degrees Golf is a group of over 100 members who golf together once a month in small groups at Grand Oaks Golf Course in Davie, Florida (which also just happens to be the golf club featured in the 1980 film Caddyshack).
“So, the end result, what we have now, is that I have five separate groups, 110 members, and I get introduced to 250 owners of companies per year. They all don’t join, they all don’t come to the events, but I get the chance to talk to them… It opens up dialogue for what I do,” Rogers said.
Rogers said that he learned a lot from the large networking group, BNI (Business Networking International), when he opened a BNI branch in Florida circa the 1990’s.
“I really learned how to network and what to do from that organization… But I wanted to take it one step further and I wanted to coordinate target marketing with BNI. So, I took a lot of what they do well, and I put it on the platform of the golf course.”
“What I want to do is invite owners of companies to the golf course,” Rogers said.
The main thing Rogers has learned since founding 6 Degrees Golf is that helping others is the best thing you can do for yourself and for your business.
“I firmly believe that when you associate with people that are trying to help others, it puts your organization on steroids. At the end of the day there’s two kinds of people, people that give and people that take. And I only want to deal with the givers. So, when I come into a relationship, I look for every way to help the other person. If they help me, great. If they don’t, no big deal. But I believe in the concept that giving comes back to you tenfold.”
“If everyone had that same attitude towards helping others, how good would the world be?” he said.
For Rogers, one of the most rewarding parts of 6 Degrees Golf is when he gets to teach people how to play the sport. Yes, that’s right, you don’t have to be a seasoned golfer to join! Rogers offers an option for members to sign up and take lessons when they attend the monthly meetings on the course.
“If we develop a great relationship and I want to get you in my group, if you say, ‘I’m not really a golfer’ (which half of the people I meet are not), I developed a platform to teach golf. Me and the teaching Pro sit down in December, and we create the curriculum,” said Rogers.
Lisa Mooney, one of his long-time members, was brand new to the sport when she joined about eight years ago. Rogers told the touching story of how learning to play golf meant a lot more to her than just any other networking opportunity.
“Two or three years ago she sent me a picture of her and her dad on the first hole, saying ‘I just wanted to thank you, I would’ve never had the opportunity to play with my father on Father’s Day if it wasn’t for you.’ The stories that I get from the people that have joined 6 Degrees are priceless… and that’s the essence of what I’m doing,” he said.
Rogers also gives his take on why golfing is the perfect place to do business; because you can see how someone reacts to certain situations on the golf course and how that may translate into the business world.
“People react to bad golf shots differently. There are people who throw clubs, break clubs, and use the f-word consistently.”
“That’s the thing that is most diligent about playing golf with somebody. It’s how they react to adversity. The people that laugh when they hit the ball in the water are the people I want to hang out with. They don’t take life too seriously. At the end of the day, we all live and die, it’s about what you do in the middle,” Rogers said.
Not only does golfing together show how people deal with adversity, it’s also a great and non-threatening way to build trust with someone.
“When I meet a business owner who plays golf, we can have a 30-minute conversation about our games yesterday. It kind of breaks down the barrier of untrustworthiness… Once people feel comfortable around you, they have a common thread, then if there’s an opportunity for business, it just tightens it. At the end of the day, we’re all selling something,” he said.
Looking back, Rogers couldn’t have predicted how hugely successful 6 Degrees Golf would be, he just simply wanted to find a way to bring his passion for golf into his workspace.
“I didn’t know what the intent was, I just wanted to do something around golf,” Rogers said.
And he certainly did.