When Professor Dan Weilbaker dons a golf cap and glove and grabs a putter for a lecture, he doesn't have to yell "Fore!" to get anyone's attention.
Business Golf 101, as he calls it, goes over like a hole-in-one among his sales students at Northern Illinois University.
Critics of American education might sneer at a college class on behavior on the links. Can Coffee-Brewing 102 be far behind?
But this once-a-year seminar is no gimmick, insists the 51-year-old educator, who views a day on the links as a golden opportunity for a four-hour sales call.
An 18-handicap golfer with an MBA and a PhD in marketing, Weilbaker says his one-day seminar provides a slice of the real world that undergraduates don't usually get in the classroom.
"Academe often gets knocked for not providing students with real-world training," he said last week at the Indian Lakes Conference and Resort Center in Bloomington, Ill. "Well, this is as 'real world' as it gets if you want to pursue a career in sales."
Students start off in the classroom learning such musts as: replace your divots; no wheelies in the golf cart; don't let the customer win; and don't talk business--at least for the first six holes.
Then the students grab their clubs and practice with executives who work with Weilbaker, and who sometimes are looking to hire.
Surveys have shown that business in America is conducted frequently on the golf course.
Still, when Weilbaker--a one-time pharmaceuticals salesman and a golf fanatic--had the brainstorm three years ago to offer Business Golf 101, a few eyebrows shot up around the campus in DeKalb.
That skepticism dissipated when word got out that some of Weilbaker's students had been hired by the same sales executives he had enlisted to play with them.
"You may close a big deal on the golf course," Weilbaker told his students. "But that shouldn't be your goal. You should be trying to make a relationship with a person that will enable you to close the deal later." . . .
Payne Stewart and Mark O'Meara will represent the three-time champion United States at next month's Alfred Dunhill Cup in St. Andrew's, Scotland.
The third member of the team for the Oct. 7-10 tournament will be announced shortly, organizers said. Stewart won this year's U.S. Open, while O'Meara was the 1998 Masters and British Open winner.
The third spot might go to Tiger Woods, who played on last year's team that lost in the semifinals to Spain.
Auto Racing; Rudd a Team Player
Ricky Rudd set in motion the end of his existence as an owner-driver on NASCAR's Winston Cup circuit, signing yesterday to join Robert Yates Racing next year.
The multiyear deal matches the driver who has established himself as one of the most consistent winners on the circuit with the owner who already fields cars for 1999 Winston Cup points leader Dale Jarrett.
Rudd said his decision was based on the strength of Yates's two-car operation, combined with his own difficulties in trying to survive as an independent in a sport ruled by multi-car teams.
"I look at my driving career and I probably have three to five good years left," Rudd, 43, said during a news conference at Lowes Motorspeedway near Charlotte. "I want to win a championship really bad before I step aside, and I've got a few more races I want to try to win. So it became very frustrating as an owner, fighting that battle and seeing the time clock starting to tick and knowing that I'm a couple years away even if I had all the people it took to do the job."
Rudd figures his chances will improve considerably by going to work for Yates, whose cars have won 44 Winston Cup races, including four this year by Jarrett.
Baseball Seeking Arbitrator
As baseball prepared for a big week of meetings, lawyers for owners and umpires again pushed back picking an arbitrator for their grievance.
The American Arbitration Association's Philadelphia office has given the sides a list of 15 arbitrators, and owners and umpires will take turns striking names until one remains.
Owners and umpires asked the AAA to find out how busy each of the 15 arbitrators is during the next 30 to 60 days. The arbitrator will decide whether owners legally accepted the resignations of 22 umpires earlier this month, or whether to order owners to rehire the 22.
Owners will try to convince the arbitrator that he has no authority to decide the case, claiming the decisions of league presidents are final when it comes to hiring and firing umpires.
CAPTION: Among Professor Dan Weilbaker's, right, lessons in Business Golf 101: Replace your divots and don't talk business--at least for the first six holes.