Calling back to an article I wrote on the hobbies of successful entrepreneurs, I was asked why golf didn’t make the list. I was quite surprised that golf didn’t make the cut of 10 as it is associated with successful people. Not all of them are entrepreneurs but there is something about a game that if so many in the upper echelons of the corporate world are into it. Let’s look at some lessons we can divine from the game of golf and how they apply to our journeys in life and business.
The first thing golf will teach you is that technique matters much more than power or force. When golfers hit a ball 300 to 500 metres they are not using huge hulking muscles but rather technique. As someone with friends who enjoy playing golf, I took the time to join them on occasion and I quickly realised that it is not just a matter of swinging, chipping or putting as the professionals make it look. Whatever business you are in there is technique applied at some point. Whether it is in production, selling, coordinating or organising. Capital and resources are great but without a well-practised technique capital and resources can easily be lost.
Play around obstacles
If you’ve never played golf let me let you in on something you may not be immediately aware of; golf course holes rarely (in fact never) present a straight line from the starting point (tee) to the finishing point (hole). In addition to the line not being straight, there are obstacles including ponds, rough patches, woods and sandpits (hazards). So it is not a matter of whacking a ball as far as you can until you get close enough to putt. There is an element of strategy to navigating a gold course successfully. Obstacles will come up in life and business and sometimes we have to play around them. It is normal for golfers to shorten their drive (how long they hit the ball) to avoid a hazard. It is better to increase your score by 1 than land yourself in a trap.
Use the right tool for the job
You will often see golfers, particularly in competition with a person who helps them with their golf clubs, the caddy. The name, unfortunately, reinforces the stereotype of caddies being bag men but they are so much more and I will explain why this is important shortly. In that golf bag, there are many different types of clubs (tools). Putter, wood, iron, wedges and drivers. These are employed for different types of shots for examples the drivers are for distance, the wedges are for scooping the ball say out of a sand trap while the putter works for gently guiding the ball on a smooth green. In business, it’s not quite that simple but we do meet similar decisions. Do you self manage or hire a social media manager? Responsive website or application, what’s better for your business? You have to use the right tool for the job. The caddy is more than a bag carrier but a person who is well versed in golf and weighs in on club and stroke choices. A good caddy is worth a lot just as good advisors are.
We’ve already spoken about how important technique is so I will spend much more time underlining that besides saying that the way to hone technique is to practice. In the business lessons from the martial arts article, I quoted the line “amateurs practise until they get it right, masters practise until they can’t get it wrong”. Whether you are a maverick or grinder we can all be made better by practice and lots of it.
Work with what you have
Golfers operate at different skill levels. Without getting into a discussion about golfing handicaps you will often see in golfing competitions and at charity golf days that there are players with different skill levels. Some interesting trivia that can drive the point home is that the lowest-ranked player to ever win a major golf tournament was Ben Curtis who lifted the 2003 Open Championship while ranked 396! So it is in business. I’m sure many businesses wanted to start as the top in their field but resource limitations meant they had to start small and strategically build to their status today. Moonshots like Ben Curtis are possible but he had been playing golf for quite some time to get there. Back yourself with the resources you have.
Hopefully, I have opened your eyes to the golfing world and perhaps even sparked some interest.