Deals on the Green

The Book of the Week is “Deals on the Green” by David Rynecki, published in 2007. This ebook discusses how golf fuels business deals among the super-rich.

The author contends that the personality traits golfers need for success in golf and business include: friendliness, “imagination, tenacity, multitasking, guts, passion, and compassion…” The very act of playing golf is a major ingredient for success at many big-name companies, including GE, McGraw-Hill, J.M. Smucker, Tyson Foods, McDonald’s, Goodrich, Estee Lauder, Morgan Stanley and Johnson & Johnson. Businesspeople observe how others play the game– an indication of their character– to determine whether to do business with them.

The people who build a golf course include architects, landscapers and marketers. Many country clubs are exclusive, invitation-only kinds of places. The way “nobodies” can play on the golf courses at such clubs is to participate in fundraising events or volunteer to do menial work at them (and write big donation checks). Most of the major manufacturers of American golf equipment are located in Carlsbad, CA.

Etiquette dictates that any talk of business on the golf course should take place between the fifth and the fifteenth holes. There should be casual conversation, not an aggressive pitch.

Read the book to learn the names of people, places and equipment related to golf, and “…what really goes on when the titans of industry and finance get together” on the golf course.

Venus Envy

The Book of the Week is “Venus Envy” by L. Jon Wertheim, published in 2002. This book describes the colorful characters that graced women’s professional tennis in 1999, 2000 and 2001.  Those included the Williams sisters, Hingis, Davenport, Pierce, Capriati, Kournikova, Sanchez-Vicario and others.

Most tennis players who become professionals are pressured by a parent to make playing a career. Venus and Serena Williams’ father Richard filled that role. He had the promotional instincts of Don King. In the mid-1990’s, when his older daughter had just turned pro at the young age of fourteen, he predicted that both his daughters would play each other in Grand Slam finals. Most people thought, “This wasn’t a tennis father from hell. This was a tennis father from outer space.” He knew what he was talking about. Not only did he guide them to success, but did so without making them crazy, unlike so many other tennis parents who cause their kids psychological harm.

Tennis is a typical professional sport in that making money is the major goal. Tennis’ authoritative bodies that hold global tournaments, have a history of awarding less prize money to the women than to the men. The purported reason is that the women are less entertaining. This led to an interesting course of events in the early 1970’s.

The women also get treated differently at post-tournament press conferences, at which they are asked personal questions that men would never be asked. Another cause for complaints from the women is that the quirky ranking system awards more money to some players who have more entertainment value than playing ability. The system “unfairly punishes older, less attractive players.”

Read the book to learn more about why women’s tennis is the “world’s most popular and financially successful women’s sport.”

The Tennis Partner

The Book of the Week is “The Tennis Partner” by Abraham Verghese, published in 1999.  This is the autobiographical account of the relationship between a medical professor (the author) and an intern at a teaching hospital in the United States.  The two play tennis against each other.  At the time, they are each going through traumatic personal problems; the professor, the aftermath of a failed marriage that produced two sons, and the intern, a struggle to beat drug addiction.  Verghese deftly describes these in engaging detail, throws in his perception of the playing styles of various professional tennis players, and recounts some interesting medical cases.