Golf has been established for decades as the sport of choice for business and corporate America. Many a key executive hire, major contract and business relationship were sketched or solidified out on the links, even if they were ultimately finalized in the boardroom.
That realization is behind the conception of the Black Enterprise/Pepsi Golf & Tennis Challenge, the 19th edition of which is set to take place at the luxurious Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami this Labor Day Weekend, August 30 through September 3, 2012. Similarly, ensuring that Black entrepreneurs and professionals don’t miss out on the combination of golf and business as powerful networking tools happens to be the mission of Al Florant, the founder of The Passion Network.
The Passion Network is a business and lifestyle group of professionals age 35+ based in Brooklyn, New York. Florant, a self-proclaimed product of the Tiger Woods era, who founded the group in 2011, will be bringing more than 4o members to Miami for this year’s Golf and Tennis Challenge. A financial services professional with over 20 years of experience in the industry, he says he has gained several clients and built long term, mutually beneficial relationships by learning the sport and fraternizing within the golf community. Florant took some time to speak with Black Enterprise about his passion for golf and business, the goals of The Passion Network, and why he’s put the Golf & Tennis Challenge on the agenda for his group:
BE: What is the purpose of The Passion Network?
AF: The passion network seeks to inspire and inform professionals to create new social contacts and business relationships. We are putting our spin on traditional networking events by hosting a unique mix of social and cultural mixers to expose people to each other and find out how we can be a resource for one another.
BE: Why are you promoting golf as a networking tool?
AF: After I started learning and playing golf in 2005, the connection between golf and business became crystal clear. I started meeting new friends and some of these new friends subsequently became clients.
Golf helped me to meet people that I would not have met otherwise, and to understand how the game creates a community unto itself. I have played other sports–baseball, basketball, [track and field]–but I have not seen a sport that lends itself to creating relationships as golf does. Since you are spending so much time on a golf course together, it gives people a chance to build camaraderie.
BE: What type of events do you have at the Marine Park Golf Club in Brooklyn?
We hosted the African American Golf Summit [in 2011], which exceeded my expectations for its success. Our idea was not necessarily to go out and play golf, though we did have a couple of clinics for beginners and a skills clinic, but to appeal to the heart and soul of the game by learning about it in context.
We had Dr. Jeffrey Sammons of New York University, who is very astute on the history of African Americans in golf, and Alfred Edmond Jr. of Black Enterprise to speak on Blacks, business and golf. They did an amazing job of painting a picture of our history and also the importance of Blacks familiarizing themselves with this game, particularly if you are in corporate America.
We also held a social event, including clinics, as a part of my Passion Network kickoff weekend in the Spring of 2011.
BE: What other golf-related programs do you have for the group?
In February, about 40 of us traveled to the United States Golf Association Museum in New Jersey for a Black History Month event, moderated by Dr. Sammons. There they honored Althea Gibson, Jackie Robinson, and Joe Louis for their contributions to the game of golf.
In 2013 we would like go to the first golf course built, owned and operated by an African American, Clearview Golf Club in East Canton, Ohio, [founded by the late William Powell].
As a result of the success of the Golf Summit, we are now bringing people together for group golf lessons. People that were on the fence and people who wanted to start learning more attend four sessions once per week.
BE: Why are you bringing members of The Passion Network to this year’s Golf & Tennis Challenge?
I have become a student of networking and I always hear people say, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Over the years, I have learned and believe that it’s not who or what you know but who knows you. Going to this event is an opportunity for our members to become known.
Further, I believe it will be good for people to make relationships in a non-threatening, fun and playful environment. Only a few of the people in the group have been before, so we are certainly also looking to have a great time!
To learn more about The Passion Network, contact Al Florant at firstname.lastname@example.org or join The Passion Network Meetup Group at http://www.meetup.com/The-Passion-Network.
Be sure to join us at the 2016 Black Enterprise Golf & Tennis Challenge, September 1-4, PGA National Resort & Spa, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.Â Register now.