Senior writer Rohan Clarke reflects on tips about corporate golf – the so-called expression to describe the mix of golf, business and hospitality

In the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, corporate golf was on the nose. People were struggling financially. Businesses weren’t comfortable hosting golf days given the corporate stench after the stock market crash. They were seen as a bit of an indulgence.

Now it appears the tide has turned. Golf participation and club membership are on the rise. LIV Golf has brought attention to the game. And with new golfers entering the sport, corporate golf is regaining popularity.

“Golf is definitely happening” says Clint Hillas from Maxfield Agency, which runs corporate days out of Melbourne. “They’re loving the golf experience of having four or five hours on the course with no interruptions. So conversations are flowing on a golf course. People are doing it because they’ve identified the need for and importance of getting in front of their customer. And spending some quality time.

“There’s a lot of distraction at Grand Prixes, racing experiences and the football where you don’t actually get a chance to have a good conversation.

“We’re having so many of our customers come and say it doesn’t have to be a big, boozy, long lunch where we all feel terrible at the end of it. They want to do experiences around Pilates and golf. And health and fitness.”


Bob Stanton was one of the pioneers of corporate golf in Australia. Upon his return home from playing the PGA Tour in the early 1980s, Stanton attended many poorly run golf days in Australia by comparison with sophisticated corporate outings in the States. He set up Bob Stanton Corporate Golf and hosted well in excess of 1,000 corporate golf events for the likes of Lexus, Toyota, Macquarie Bank and Nestlé.

Stanton once pointed out that golf has an advantage over other schmoozing activities. Executives can spend the best part of seven hours with clients. In addition, golf breaks down the barriers that exist in business.

However, in today’s digital age and time-precious society, corporate executives are less likely to hang around for post-round dinners and functions. Getting home to the family is a priority. Hence, the modern corporate golf day needs to hit the mark with its timing and length. An early morning tee-time with lunch may be preferable to an afternoon round followed by dinner in the evening.

Boutique-size events can achieve better results for a business. With $30,000 to spend on a corporate golf day, it’s an opportunity to target two dozen rather than 12 dozen of your best clients.

“I think the primary objective is the quality time that you can spend with customers,” Stanton once told Australian Golf Digest. “And the smaller, niche day that it is, that’s even more so. If you get a group of 24, it’s different to having a group of 144.”


Some businesses may choose to run a corporate golf day in-house. But that is fraught with danger because the whole day can fall flat if staff are unaware of where things can go wrong. How a day runs reflects on the business and is likely to remain in the memory banks of its clients/guests for considerable time.

A business may end up saving money running a corporate day in-house but it’s safer to hire a professional event manager. The event manager will handle the course booking, catering, signage, registration and prizegiving ceremony.

Proactive golf clubs are an alternative to using an event manager. Clubs with a nicely manicured 18-hole course have the essential asset to host a corporate day. And many clubs have ample staff to ensure a day runs smoothly by utilising their golf professional, assistant manager, function co-ordinator and food-and-beverage staff. Furthermore, many F&B staff have worked in the hospitality industry where customer service is a priority.

Ranfurlie Golf Club near Cranbourne in Melbourne’s south-east growth corridor is a case in point with more than 30 staff to service a corporate day. Apart from the impressive 18-hole layout designed by Michael Clayton, Ranfurlie has revamped the entire driving range. Ranfurlie’s corporate package offering allows groups to access the range’s two premium rooms. The private spaces are fully catered, licensed premises where guests have an unlimited number of driving range balls to hit. It’s ideal for people who aren’t keen to test themselves on a golf course.


When deciding upon a corporate golf format, it’s wise to consider the golf ability of the attendees. Are they accomplished golfers, social players or once-a-year hackers?

A strokeplay round – even a Stableford format – can have dire consequences in terms of speed of play. Waiting for someone to putt out for quintuple-bogey or an 8/1 tends to infuriate any golfer of substance.

That’s why an ambrose format is virtually failsafe. Selecting the best ball after every shot continually allows every group member to be involved. Accomplished golfers essentially get to play a full round while executives who rarely set foot on a course can avoid being made to look too foolish.

A four-person ambrose also provides more of a team element, especially when the format requires each player in a group to use a certain number of tee shots. And using a combined handicap system tends to equalise the competition and give every team a legitimate shot of winning on the day.


Little extras can go a long way to leaving an indelible impression on corporate-day guests. For instance, having a massage table on the tee of a par 3. Photo and video packages for each player. A professional golfer offering instructional tips. A fortnight’s use of a luxury car for the day’s best score.

Maxfield Agency in Melbourne has 25 years of experience running corporate events for the likes of Motorola, Mitsubishi, Toyota, adidas and the AFL Players Association.

“There are so many golf days that you go to that are just another golf day. They’ve always got golf and a nice meal afterwards,” Hillas says. “We try to create points of difference for relationships. Think of gin activations, whisky tasting experiences, guest speakers and talent. We like to think we bring a little bit of X-factor to a golf day.”

For a corporate event on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, Maxfield Agency will incorporate local produce and wine tastings on the tees and in the clubhouse. Little details matter, such as bringing a brand to life with signage activations on a golf hole or even a flagstick. Adding a ‘champagne shower’ for the winning team creates a terrific sense of occasion.

Clients want their guests talking about an amazing golf day 12 months after the event. As a wise man once said: “Corporate golf is not about the golf.”