Pro golfer Lee Trevino once said, “You don’t know what pressure is until you play for five bucks with only two bucks in your pocket.” This is to say, it takes a strong belief in oneself and a willingness to take a little risk to find success — attributes commonly found among business leaders. It’s no surprise then that the golf course has long had a reputation for being the place where professional relationships are formed.
“I have found over the years that there is almost no better place than on the golf course to spend some quality time with someone in business and be able to generate a positive relationship with them,” says Dave Stafford, FEDA chairman and president and CEO of Stafford-Smith. “That is not based on how well you play but just based on the time well spent with each other.”
The 2023 FEDA Annual Conference will provide a great opportunity to make those business connections during the conference’s golf tournament. The event, which will begin at 7 a.m. Oct. 24, is open to dealers, manufacturers and FEDA associate members who have registered for the conference and spots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Breakfast and lunch will be provided, and clubs can be rented for $100. Registration is available at learn.feda.com.
The tournament will have a shotgun start, with each pre-arranged foursome beginning on a different hold. Participants will play a scramble format, with each team playing off the best shot ball within its group. There will also be closest to the pin and longest drive contests.
The casual format of the tournament makes it the perfect place for all FEDA members to socialize outside of the conference’s educational programming. “A scramble event is basically there for players of all skill levels to come together and play for fun,” says Stafford, who is serving as golf tournament co-chair.
Stafford, who describes himself as a “fair- to middle-skilled golfer” with the ability to play well when he needs to, said the tournament is one of the highlights of the FEDA Annual Conference. “The annual FEDA golf outing has always been an event that is fun with great camaraderie where we all can come together in an enjoyable venue to build relationships and enjoy our time together, win or lose on the course,” he says.
Last year’s event took place at historic Torrey Pines and wowed with its scenic San Diego coastline, but the 2023 golf tournament promises to be even more impressive. Participants will play Fields Ranch West, a brand-new 7,319-yard course that opened alongside the Omni PGA Frisco Resort in May. Designed by Beau Welling, the architect perhaps best known for his work on Payne’s Valley Golf Course near Branson, Missouri — the first public course designed by Tiger Woods’ TGR Design — Fields Ranch West is a celebration of north-Texas’ Blackland prairie landscape. The course runs alongside Panther Creek and features wide fairways and rolling hills surrounded by native field grasses live oaks and mesquite trees. The result is a round that challenges strategy and creativity more than raw skill.
Fields Ranch West truly embodies the goal to make the Omni PGA Frisco resort the country’s new destination for golf experiences and exemplifies why the PGA of America moved its headquarters to the Dallas suburb in 2022. “Playing a PGA course is always a treat. Being one of first to play a new course is always fun as well,” says Tom Wienclaw, co-chair of the golf tournament, secretary/treasurer for the FEDA Board and president of TriMark USA.
The excitement over the new course will be matched by the energy among the participants. “Golf is a good networking opportunity, Wienclaw says. “It leads to relaxed casual talk and gives players a chance to start developing long-term relationships or to a follow-up post golf.”
While the scramble format of the event promises to keep the atmosphere fun and light, Stafford and Wienclaw suggest that players, especially those new to the game, practice beforehand. “You are not training for the club championship, all you want to do is learn the basics of the game so that you can really enjoy the experience it provides,” Stafford says.
Players should also be knowledgeable about golf’s expectations if they want to make a good impression within their group. “Understanding the etiquette and rules of golf is most important,” Wienclaw adds. Some helpful tips for the uninitiated: don’t talk or move during someone else’s swing, fix your divots, be ready to hit, and watch where you walk.
Ultimately, golf is a game that rewards mental focus and acts as an equalizer. When everyone is on the same playing field, there’s a greater opportunity to break down barriers and foster communication, opening the door to forming new professional relationships or strengthening existing ones. “I have personally found that the times when I can get out and play with business associates, friends and family are now some of the best times in my life,” Stafford says.