Golf has a long-standing reputation of being the green boardroom. With many references in pop culture—including scenes from iconic television shows like The Sopranos and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—the golf course is cemented in our cultural psyches as the go-to place for executives looking to have networking conversations and close business deals over some friendly competition.

That said, golf is more than a business networking opportunity. Golf is a chance to get to know yourself through the game—your strengths, your areas of improvement, your interests—while creating a meaningful path to progress and developing genuine connections with other golfers along the way. And more over, it’s fun.

Of course, the game of golf does allow you to build relationships, but like all networking occasions, if you approach it with a one-track mindset focused only on what you can get out of the people you meet on the green, then your opportunities could be short-lived.

The key to successfully networking through golf is authenticity.

The truth is that most meaningful business discussions can only develop after a strong relationship foundation has been built. The real reason that golf has become the American pastime best suited for networking is that the style of the game lends itself to honest rapport building. As a golfer, you have the chance to actively listen to your fellow players, ask them meaningful questions and reflect on the ways you could work together, all while remaining enthusiastic and supportive of both your personal development and that of other golfers. It gives you the time and space to explore similarities not otherwise easily unveiled in corporate spaces, contributing to a more profound relationship built on human-centric qualities, rather than only business-focused aspirations.

It is this authentic approach to networking through golf that leads to the longest-lasting business relationships.

That is, perhaps, why golf is expanding and becoming more diverse. For example, in 2008 Azucena Maldonado founded the Latina Golfers Association, which now has more than 2,500 members. Through the organization, she puts on networking events, which help to make the sport—and the opportunities it offers to meet people and make business contacts—more inclusive of one of the fastest growing demographics in the nation, according to an article by

So, what should you remember when networking through golf with authenticity?

Don’t push business first

Try breaking the ice with conversations not specific to business dealings. Starting with business talk could close you off to truly getting to know the golfers with whom you are networking, as they may focus so much on business that they don’t truly open up and enjoy their experience with you. Rather, set a tone that is welcoming and inviting of genuine connection.

Find commonalities

Sara Robinson, a mental skills coach specializing in athletes, recommends the following: “Think about family, work experiences, travel and more. No, you don’t have to have everything in common, but finding a few common experiences or perspectives that you both share can help set the stage for a positive relationship.”

Pace the game

Remember that not all golfers are coming to the game with the same skill level. Pace your play appropriately for your fellow golfers—slowing down for beginners and speeding up for more advanced players. This will give you the best chance at having meaningful conversations between holes.

Keep these tips for authentic networking in mind the next time you hit the course, and you are sure to walk away with meaningful relationships that could last a lifetime—no matter the business environment in which you work.