I've had two instances where I've used golf to my advantage even without playing golf with the other parties. The first time I used golf to my benefit was at a local pizzeria. The owner-host was always professional during past visits, but never friendly. The other night I started talking about golf with him, and it was like we were long lost friends. At the end of the night, he gave me his business card and told me to call him whenever I wanted to go out and play the course we talked about that evening. It was a surprise, and I look forward to go back to his restaurant.
The latest incident involved getting my car repaired at a local dealership. On Friday, I brought in the car to remedy a same noise I was hearing, but it was never repaired during the previous two visits. I test drove the car with the shop foreman and somehow we ended up talking about golf. When I picked up my car today, not only was the noise repaired, but three other items were also repaired that I didn't complain about. According to the service advisor, the foreman said because my car warranty was about to expire, so he gave it a careful look over.
Okay, I can "feel" the skepticism about car dealers and my repairs. But I think it was a sincere gesture to help me fix my car.
Unlike politics or religion, which can create a bond or an immediate enemy with a stranger, golf doesn't bring up such intense feelings. It's more likely that if you meet a fellow golfer, you'll have a friend and someone who might help you in ways you can't imagine.