Wednesday, December 10, 2008

You're fired!

Golf is like business in this economy too.
Even Tiger Woods recently got fired by GM as the spokeman for Buick. So the lesson for business owners is....

If your business is in trouble and you have a part-time employee earning $7 million a year, now is a good time to let him go. In fact now is a good time to make a lot of decisions that might not have been very popular in the good ol' days, but are pretty obviously necessary now.

Oh yeah, and this is not a good time to flaunt the corporate jet. Unless you've had a very good year in golf or business, and want to distinguish yourself as still having the cash to spend on frivolous luxury and convenience.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Slow progress

I mentioned the golf course under construction that I'm watching from my office window. Well it continues to take shape in spite of the early winter weather conditions.
Apparently earth moving is still possible, but no grass will be seeded or sodded in this weather, and it's getting worse. This morning, Dec. 8th, they were reporting -20 degrees C and -30 with the windchill. That's 20 below for the Fahrenheit folks. Definitely not golf weather.
Time to plan for the winter break in Myrtle Beach or Scottsdale. Any suggestions or recommendations?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The "off" season

We're in late November and it's clearly the off season for golf. In warmer climates people are still playing, but even there the real golf season is over. Nothing on the PGA nor the LPGA.

What are all those golfers doing? Probably enjoying the time away from the course. Time to spend on other activities; add some balance to your life; and maybe reflect on new approaches to get better for next season.

Is there an off season in business which we can use to the same advantage? Absolutely.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Course management - Harder than it looks

We've all had the experience of watching the pros make it look easy; while knowing that getting the ball to do what you want it to do is not easy.

But who knew that building a golf course could be so hard? From my office window on the 10th floor of a condo building on Iles des Soeurs near downtown Montreal I can see a new 9-hole executive golf course under construction. It sounded easy when they described the project, but apparently it's not.

The plan was to convert about 70 acres of toxic landfill into a golf course by removing debris and re-contouring the land then covering it with topsoil and landscaping it for golf. It took about nine months and thousands of truckloads in and out of the area. Only last year did some seeded grass start to appear on the planned driving range. This summer there were signs of sand traps and greens. But only enough for about three holes. The driving range was finished but not officially opened. Now in late fall, there is more dirt being moved around, but still not sodded and not a tree in sight.

Already delayed, probably over budget and having changed owners, the course is now expected to be ready for golf by September 2009. We'll keep watching.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tip for trying times

With credit to one of my favourite comic strips, "Real Life Adventures":

Father and son are finishing their round of golf and the young son asks, "So Dad, what did we learn today?"

His reply, "When things are going badly, stop keeping score."

That may be sound advice for your business or your investment portfolio these days. You already know the results are bad and looking at them again and again will not make them better. Check them once.

Then get on with what you have to do for better results.


Apologies to all my regular readers, if I have any. (Are you out there?)

I've neglected this Blog and my golf for several weeks. Too many distractions, plus a holiday break and a bad cold have knocked me off my routine. (If you know me, I've never been good at routines.)

But now I'm back and will try to dedicate regular time to my Blogs. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Success is a great motivator

My Dad used to say, "Nothing succeeds like success". I'm sure you've heard the expression also. My interpretation is that the more you succeed the more you, and others, expect to see you succeed.

It is true in business and golf. A couple of examples.

Out for another round with my 7-year old grandson and this time he did much better. A strong, smooth swing was connecting more frequently and sending the ball long and straight (for a 7-year old). Every golfer's favourite swing result. On top of that he rammed a couple of 4 to 5-foot putts straight into the cup to the surprise of all of us watching and to his delight. He was so encouraged with his game that he insisted on going immediately to the driving range and practice green after our nine hole round. He was motivated.

I had a similar experience earlier this week in a rare round with my son-in-law. He is a very competitive former fullback with a vicious swing and a huge slice that he manages to keep in the fairway. We were both ready to impress each other. I got the better start.

Off the first tee, a short dogleg left downhill to a small well-bunkered green, I hit a perfect (for me) 5-iron that drew around the corner and ran down about 225 yards. Hit a full sandwedge about 100 yards and landed right side of the pin, then sank a curling 18-foot putt for birdie. I'm loving this course! (Son-in-law lost his drive in the trees and went downhill, literally, from there.)

The rest of my round was the usual roller coaster from par to triple bogey but I was not bothered after the great starting hole and the expectation by me and my playing partners that I was going to hit it well. That first hole just kept me confident and relaxed for the day and happy to come back soon.

The lesson learned was one often stated by the pros, "Keep visualizing your successes, not your failures, and that is what you are more likely to repeat."

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Many ways to get there

An interesting round this week with my friend Giles. We are about the same calibre and often are close in score but this week was unusual.

We started well. He takes his usual abbreviated back swing and hits a drive down the middle. I take my usual full swing and hit a five iron past him and still on the fairway. I chunk the next shot and we both bogey. We then both make the next hole, par 3, and carry on from there. He works his way around with another par 3, a few bogeys and doubles. I also make the other par 3 and play better except for a blow-up 9. Surprisingly, we finish the front nine together at 49. (Not great golf, but we're 20+ handicappers and the course has punishing rough. No margin for error; if you're into the hay it's a lost ball.)

We chat to the cute and charming young lady serving hot dogs during our break then start badly on the back nine. (We agreed she was to blame.) I stumble to a 7 on the first par 3 and manage another ugly 9 on a par 4. Saved by my putting, I sink a couple of 10 and 12-footers and everything within 4-feet for two more pars, a 3 and a 5. Giles doesn't get any putts to fall in but keeps it close with bogeys.

Over the 19th hole beers, we add it all up. And discover we both had 49 again on the back nine!

If you've watched the pros, you'll see the same phenomenon. As in business, there are many ways to get there - power, finesse, and luck may all apply in varying degrees at different times. The bottom line is still all that matters. This is not figure skating - there are no points for style.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More fun with young golfers

I had already learned from my seven year-old grandson that hitting balls at the driving range was not much fun. So yesterday we tried his suggestion of hitting balls on the soccer field. We made a game of hitting them from one end down through the goal posts at the other end.

His swing technique is getting better and he hit a couple of good 7-irons at least 50 yards. Scared me once as he sent a long one towards the parking lot and all those windshields sitting there. That and taking out a few of his little brother's teeth on the backswing were the biggest risks. The little brother, age four, also did quite well with his hockey slap shot technique from his hours of road hockey.

All in all we had fun and made progress. That's as good as it gets in golf (and business).

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Getting rusty

As Tiger comes back from his surgery and the recovery related delay to play the US Open this week there is much talk of whether he's rusty or not. Strange term to use after he has presumably had the "rust" removed from the hinge that is his left knee.

Not many are convinced that it will provide any competitive advantage to the others in the tournament. Tiger has played sick, tired, distracted and injured before and still won. Maybe harder for him and closer for the others, but he's still able to pull it out through sheer strength of will. His mental toughness is formidable under pressure.

That's probably the golf and business lesson for all of us. After any setback or prolonged absence it is important to re-focus and concentrate on the fundamentals to achieve our goals. Keep it simple, ignore the obstacles, and go for it.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Coaching a young golfer

I started a new golf challenge on the weekend - introducing the game to my seven year-old grandson.

We soon agreed that hitting balls at the driving range is not much fun.

First lesson for me: Like coaching young entrepreneurs, there is no point in doing this if it's not going to be fun because there is certainly no guarantee that you'll ever make money at it.

So let's find out how to make this fun. I'm looking for ideas and his suggestion of practicing on the soccer field sounds a little risky. Meanwhile I'm looking for whiffle balls before somebody gets hurt.

Another early challenge is which way to swing, left or right. Like many young Canadians he naturally picked up the club to smack it like a slap shot with his hockey stick - left handed. Oops, the clubs were right-handed. After debating with his father, who plays left but is right handed, we decided to keep the right handed clubs and let him start that way. He seemed to get the idea fairly quickly, including an interlocking grip, so we'll keep working at it.

I hope that first decision doesn't keep him from going pro.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Golf guru

Business consultants and executive coaches often use the line "even Tiger Woods needs to consult with a coach to improve his game". Sounds reasonable and it's true.

Golf guru, David Leadbetter, was recently interviewed in Maclean's magazine. He does coach the pro's as well as teach mere mortals at golf clinics around the world. As he puts it, "I'm a bit like Robin Hood because I rob from the rich and give to the poor." Since he charges up to $10,000 per day (for the guys competing in multi-million dollar tournaments) he can afford to give free advice to kids and young pros.

He did admit though that some golfers are "instructionally challenged" He was not so crude as to use the term LOFT (for "lack of f***ing talent") but he does sometimes suggest maybe they should try tennis.

It's also true for some ambitious new entrepreneurs who need to be told "maybe you should try a real job." Sometimes you just have to be cruel to be kind.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Learning from the pros

I had the pleasure recently of visiting the Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana. Aside from watching Mike Weir practicing huge flop shots from 30 feet to the hole, John Daly rolling them into the cup, and David Duval cranking long drives a mile off the fairway I also got to watch Retief Gooosen's smooth swing close up.

Almost too close.

It was the Pro-Am day and I was wandering away from the three amateurs playing with David Duval thinking "Money can buy you a ticket to play, but you can't buy class." It's not the first time I've seen amateurs break the rules of etiquette. Dropping cigarettes on the green, improving their lie in the rough (The worst offender was PM Jean Chretien at the Canadian Open with Tiger Woods. At one point Tiger offered him a tee.) But one idiot with David Duval couldn't resist getting on the cell phone (in spite of all the signs saying NO CELL PHONES) and boasting "Yeah, I'm actually playing in the Pro-Am with David Duval."

But as I rounded the corner and headed up the cart path towards the 10th tee I noticed some poor amateur way off the fairway across the cart path and under the trees about to hit the ball straight at me. Oops, that's no amateur, that's Retief Goosen! So I backed out of his way and watched his silky swing pick it off the pine needles and send it over the bunkers and trees right onto the green. These guys are good.

I have a video of Retief on the tee. It's a good image to keep in mind next time I'm setting up to tee off.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Power, determination, technique

When I was coaching my son years ago, primarily in hockey, I would remind him of our mantra "PDT" - power, determination and technique.

We had agreed they were the three elements that were necessary for a high level of performance. "Power" requires building strength and fitness to overcome obstacles and the competition. "Determination" is about attitude and the mental ability to focus and persist in the pursuit of the objectives. "Technique" is mastering the skills required to perform at a high level consistently.

PDT applies very much to the sport of golf and is demonstrated by the winners every weekend. Developing the power, determination and technique applicable to your business will also lead to successes there.

Friday, February 1, 2008

From excellence to perfection

We've already observed that Tiger Woods seems to keep improving. To the dismay of his competitors. Last week he was dissatisfied with his driving and still won the tournament at Torrey Pines by eight strokes. What if he has four good days!?

Tom Peters wrote the business classic "In Search of Excellence" that has inspired a generation of business leaders. Lexus lived up to its slogan "The relentless pursuit of perfection" and Tiger seems to be on the same path.

What if you are a competitor? Are you just playing for second place? Just trying to make a decent living? Of course not. You too want to be the best, a winner one day. Your only choice is to keep chasing the standard bearer. Tiger had Jack Nicklaus. Now we all have Tiger.

The fun is in the pursuit of being the best you can be. That is the challenge that keeps us going.

Monday, January 14, 2008


We have the tendency to start a New Year, or even each new month in business, by resetting the numbers back to zero and starting again from there. It can be a discouraging process.

The concept of building momentum and carrying it forward from one period to the next is probably a better approach. In business and in golf it is often the attitude that improves our results more than the aptitude.

Mike Weir had a very good start to the season in Hawaii last week leading on Sunday and finishing a strong fourth. Two early mistakes cost him a few hundred thousand dollars, but still in the serious money for a positive outcome. He agreed with the commentators that his victorious battle one-on-one with Tiger in Montreal followed by a win late last year have given him renewed confidence that he has carried into the new season.

In business we can also use the mental picture of good results in the past to lead us to the same results in the future.

Here's hoping it works for you. Wishing you all the best in business and in golf for 2008.