3 Lessons Golf has Taught me about Business

Canadian government funding and small business lessons

This summer I had the privilege of walking Glen Abbey Golf Course in Oakville, Ontario during the final round of the Canadian Open golf tournament. My second time being on the course, I was immediately taken back by the stunning landscape, the peaceful chirp of birds, and being surrounded by some of the best golfers in the world. Even as a spectator I had a game plan of what I was hoping to achieve for the day. Upon my mid-morning arrival, I would find Steve Stricker (former Payne Stewart Award winner for showing respect to the game’s traditions) and follow him for the back-nine of his round. After completion of his round I would make my way to the first tee where the final three groups would start their day, and I would follow those in contention to win the tournament.

Walking the course with the final group, which consisted of Canadian, David Hearn, and two-time Masters Champion, Bubba Watson, I became more aware of why I love the game so much. The roar of the crowd after long putts fall, the sheer power of a drive like Bubba’s, the ability to creatively escape dangers that would make ordinary golfers fail. All of these left me amazed at what determination and passion for the game can allow people to achieve.

Business Lessons that Golf Provides

The day also allowed me to reflect on why so many people in business love the game. From an outside perspective, some may believe that golf and business are closely related because of the prestige of country clubs, the cost associated with playing the game, or because lucrative deals are formed during the match. I don’t see that at all. What I see, as someone who is passionate about golf and business, is that both are filled with challenges that must be overcome in order to achieve success. Let me provide you with a few examples of why this is true:

Lesson One: Capitalize on Opportunities

Pro golfer, Hearn, held a two-shot advantage over his competitor, Watson, going into the final round of play during the Canadian Open round I attended. After the first five holes of the round, he had improved this figure to an amazing 5-stroke differential and appeared as though he would easily coast to victory. Golf, however, has a way of turning these leads around through a small stretch of the course. Through the back-nine I watched Bubba pick up momentum and birdie five of his last six holes. Hearn’s lead shrunk, then disappeared before the eyes of stunned spectators.

Business owners, like golfers, must acknowledge when to be aggressive and when to be conservative. Holding back too much may allow your competition to catch up and surpass you, reducing market share/stroke leads and other key performance indicators. If opportunities present themselves, be willing to take them, but do not force decisions that could end up hurting you in the long-run.

Lesson Two: Utilize Your Strengths

Any golf fan knows that Bubba Watson is an entertaining golfer to watch because of his power off the tee. During the Canadian Open, Watson drove an average of 340 yards which surpassed the field average by an incredible 40 yards. This strength allowed Watson to score 16-under par on the par-fives during the tournament; an excellent performance. Finishing with a final score of 16-under, he managed to play the rest of the course even-par. Watson’s strength in playing long holes extremely well allowed him to capture second place even though his scoring performance through the rest of the course wasn’t great.

Business owners must also play to their strengths to maximize success. At Mentor Works, I believe that one of my team’s strengths is effective and frequent communication. Everybody is open to discuss projects that we’re working on, answer questions that other team members have, and proactively share resources with each other to enable greater efficiencies. The result of this is a cohesive team that obtains consistently positive results for our clients. Like Watson, when we play to our strengths, my office succeeds in producing great outcomes.

Lesson Three: Form Strategies to Achieve Goals

It always amazes me to hear the dialogue between a golfer and his/her caddy when watching a tournament on television, but it’s even more impressive actually being on the course and hearing it. The dynamic of golfer and caddy is forming strategy, then executing on it. This displayed itself when David Hearn was staring down a long birdie-putt on the 13th hole. He and his caddy must have spent four or five minutes deliberating over the line and speed of the putt, contours of the green, direction that the grass was growing in, wind, and other variables that could have influenced the shot’s outcome. After formulating the strategy that Hearn would use to hit the ball, he stepped up and drained one of the best putts I’ve ever seen in my life.

Without strategy, a business may only survive day-to-day operations. What are you working towards? Having a goal then formulating strategies to achieve that goal is the only way to provide the results you expect. If you want to manufacture twice as many widgets in the next year, your strategy might include purchasing more efficient machinery or hiring more employees. There are no shortcuts in business or golf. If you want to achieve your goal, you must develop and implement a solid plan first.

Incorporate Golf’s Lessons into your Business

If you’ve never gone to see a professional golf event before, I highly encourage you to do so. There’s a lot of fun to be had and the lessons you might learn will impact different areas of your life – including your business. Use these lessons and feel free to come up with your own, because golf is full of them!

“In many ways, I see Mentor Works being a caddy for businesses looking to succeed.”

In many ways, I see Mentor Works being a caddy for businesses looking to succeed. We can help you capitalize on opportunities, utilize your strengths, and work with you to develop a strategy to leverage Canadian government funding for business growth. Contact us today to learn how we can help you increase your business performance, and follow us on Twitter for daily blog articles, such as this one.

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