Monday, December 13, 2010

Why is Business like Golf? Or vice versa?

I'm looking at the golf courses nearby getting ready for opening in Montreal, so maybe it's time to re-op this Blog too with a quick re-cap of why I think Business is like GolfAnd Vice Versa.

Several years ago at DirectTech Solutions we worked that theme into our marketing strategy.
Manage your game ... with DirectTech Solutions.
Especially if you recognize these problems in your business:  
  • Business Plan went sideways on the first tee.
  • Marketing strategy is all wet.
  • Corporate image looks like a mashie niblick (Old 7 iron).
  • Brochures looking pretty rough.
  • Sales are slicing into the trees.
  • Website costs are in bogie territory.
  • Couldn't sink a contract if you tried.
  • Distribution strategy is on the beach.
  • Advertising manager lost his balls.
  • Nobody even knows you won the Open.
  • Your best hole is the 19th.
DirectTech Solutions understands that business is like golf - easy to get into trouble and hard to get the results you want. Don't putter around. For creative, practical solutions to your corporate strategy, business plans, and performance improvement needs. More than a mulligan, we deliver solutions.

Our marketing strategy included golf themed brochures, putting contests at trade shows, sponsoring golf tournaments, etc. It was fun and created some buzz, but when it was no longer new and original, we moved on.

Then I started this Blog for expansion on the theme. It fit with my online plans for Uncle Ralph, "Enrepreneurs Only" and DIYBusinessPlan (, where I am trying to write, teach, advise, consult and comment on management, leadership and entrepreneurship.   The golf analogy keeps coming back. So let`s test that analogy a little further. 

Here is my list of "Why Business is Like Golf" :
  1. It's important to have a plan.  Of course nothing goes exactly according to plan, but when you look up, you can recognize where you should be now, and where you're trying to go.  (Like Oops!  I'm in the bunker and need to get out of the sand and back on the fairway in front of the green.)  
  2. Even the good shots can end up badlyAnd vice versa.  So take your best shot and hope for the best.  That great drive (or proposal) may have gone too far and ended up in the rough.  And sometimes a terrible slice (or bad sales call) can actually bounce off a tree and end up right where you wanted to be.  
  3. Every problem is just another challenge. It was not supposed to end up in the rough and behind a tree, but now you can work on your "recovery" shot.
  4. Work on the fundamentals.  You cannot get better if you don't understand and master the basic principles, techniques and foundation of a good swing (or business).
  5. Choose and use the right tools and equipment.  Technology keeps making the game easier, but make sure it is the right equipment for you and your plan.  And don't try to force an 8-iron to work like a 4-wood. 
  6. Know the rules and play fair.  Even if nobody catches you cheating, you know you don't deserve the credit you're getting for a good game.
  7. Continuous learning and determined practice are the disciplines of champions.  If  the Number One golfer in the world is still adjusting his swing with a new coach, what are your doing to be better and do better?
  8. It's easier if you lower your expectations and have good excuses. But you want more, right?
  9. Learn from your mistakes. You will inevitably have an occasional bad shot, a bad hole or a bad day.  It may just be bad luck, a bad idea, or a bad swing, but continuously analyse what you did wrong so that you can avoid the mistake next time.
That's the first nine holes, I hope it gives you some memorable ideas that will improve both your golf and your business. I'll work on another nine for another day.

Until then, keep hitting them down the middle!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tiger is No.2 to Westwood, now No.1.

Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood at Pebble Beach, US Open - June 2010.

The slide in golf performance by Tiger Woods since his disgrace as a husband and father has finally allowed him to be overtaken by Lee Westwood as the number one golfer in world rankings.  Nobody has been there longer than Tiger at more than 600 weeks during his twelve year career to date.  Greg Norman is the only golfer at plus 300 weeks to ever come close to a similar reign at the top of the golf kingdom. 

Is Tiger's reign over as he slips into oblivion?  I doubt it.  No longer the prime contender to win at any tournament he enters he still proved his capabilities in his appearance at the Ryder Cup and he still draws the crowds with his ability to make the shots that no one else even tries.  He's no longer number one, but still on the comeback and will be a threat and the man to watch for years to come.

"Beware of the Tiger" is still good advice.  His career is not over and he is determined to win more than the 18 Majors of Jack Nicklaus.  He will continue to entertain and inspire us - at least on the golf course.  In his personal life, he has lots more work to do to recover our respect. 

And that too is how business is like golf.  
Keep on playing is the answer.   

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The fairy tale ends

The fairy tale family  - golf god, blonde beauty, and two adorable children - made for the media and subject of public adulation, is over.  Now divorced, Tiger Woods and Elin Nordgren will still try to meet their parental duties, but the image of the perfect modern celebrity family has shattered. 

The career of the golf god is also in doubt as Tiger struggles to perform at any level near his past performance. His recent play has been far from the super-human heroics on the course that used to fascinate us.  Instead we overdosed on media coverage of his extra-marital sex life to the point of wanting to hear no more.

A very unhappy ending to the fairy tale of Tiger Woods - from child prodigy to Number 1 Golfer in the World for the best part of 10 years.  The image that allowed him to become the the most highly paid athlete by advertising sponsors is also shattered and unlikely to be rebuilt.  Maybe Donald Trump has the best suggestion  - just change the sponsors to products that appeal to chauvinist, sexist, drinking, partying and gambling men (in addition to golfers) and forget the family-oriented role model.

The next chapter of this tale will aslo be fascinating to follow. 

Let's hope it ends better than the last.   

Monday, August 2, 2010

Golf is Cruel

Chunk one in the water, or a putt bumps off line and you LOSE! Not sure you feel better if you got beat by a 59.  On Sunday, Stuart Appleby came from way behind and had the round of his life to walk away with the championship.

Sometimes it's hard to accept, but golf like business and life in general, is not fair.  You don't always get the results you deserve.  Sometimes the good shots end up bad and the bad shots end up good.  The wrong guy often wins.  Our heroes sometimes disappoint us.

My son and I played on the weekend and learned some of those lessons (again).  As did Fred Couples and Jeff Overton.  (No, neither of us shot a 59, but the other stuff, yes.)

We were reminded of that great stress relief phrase coined by life coach and motivator, Rock Thomas, "What's Good about This."  For example: "What's good about this unlucky bounce off a rake and into the foorprint in a sand trap is .... that I get to make a great sand save!"

Making the most of our setbacks just makes the eventual success even more satisfying.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Our Olympic Golf Champion!

An interesting historical side note from the recent Canadian Open, compliments of the Canadian Golf Hall of  Fame and Museum (who knew we even had one?). 

Believe it or not, the reigning Olympic Gold Medalist for golf is Canadian, George Lyon!  At the last Olympic games that included golf, he won at St. Louis in 1904.  We have the trophy to prove it, but have lost the gold medal since the 1930's. 

George Lyon won at the age of 46, over an American in his 20`s.  Lyon was already a star athlete in rugby and cricket, plus holding the national record in pole vaulting, before turning to play golf in his late 30`s. 

Another Great Canadian hero, with an inspiring story we had not heard before. 

 (Another side note and also strangely inspiring story for us less athletic heroes: this year`s Canadian Open Champion, was Carl Pettersson from Sweden, who qualified dead last on Friday so went out and had a few beers, then Saturday was just one birdie putt from a 59 and won on Sunday with a 67.  Shades of the John Daly school of golf!) 

My conclusion: Choose your role models carefully.  Focus on the results, not the life style.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Golf lessons for investors

Interesting perspective today in the National Post today by Kim Covert quoting Drew Abbott of TD-Waterhouse on how the principles for succeeding at golf also apply to successful investing.

Four key concepts that stand out for Abbott:
  • Intuition - trust your gut feel;  learn to do what feels right and stay away from what doesn't feel like a good choice before taking a swing at it.
  • Discipline - avoid high risk shots that may get you into deeper trouble instead of the heroic results you're trying to achieve.
  • Sound fundamentals - learn the basic principles, techniques and tactics that are the foundation for getting better results. 
  • Expert advice - keep learning and accept good coaching to improve your game. 
All are sound principles that should be kept in mind to achieve better results for your golf and your investment portfolio.

And don't forget to keep it in perspective: past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Enjoy and good luck.  That also helps in both golf and investing.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Business of Golf vs Hockey

When the seasons overlap, it's hard not to notice the differences between hockey and golf as businesses.

The PGA Tour is almost unique in that it is owned and operated by the players themselves (maybe ATP tennis is similar). For NHL hockey (and most other major league sports) the owners are often in opposition to the players and their union. It's almost socialism versus capitalism.  Or at least democracy and active participation in the business versus rampant exploitation of the hired help. (borderline slavery?)

So which is better? And for whom? 

For the owners, the PGA is better run and more consistently profitable. Hockey team owners are willing to indulge their vanity with huge losses. For the players, both sports seem to do very well for the top performers.  But the PGA is strictly based on personal performance - you earn what you win.  Thousands don't make the grade for the Tour and work for basic wages at the local course.

For hockey players, they have the protection of team mates helping them win and their agents and the union protecting their earnings.  Still thousands don't make it to the big show and take their lunps in lessor leagues.

What about the paying customers? 

Both sports essentially are selling entertainment to their fans and the sponsors.  It seems to work.  You might argue that fans get more for their money at a golf tournament, but you have to accept that the price is determined by the market and hockey fans (in some cities) are fanatic enough to pay whatever it takes to see a game.  TV audiences and commercial sponsors confirm that the fans are there.  For golf there is the "Tiger factor".  And his new notoriety just adds to the attraction when he's playing.

No conclusion - just observations. Make your own choices. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

Tiger is not the only story at the Masters

Finally we are back to golf!

Tiger Woods at the Masters still seems to be the biggest story, but I sense the media frenzy will end soon as he gets back to golf and we all get past the fascination with his sordid escapades.

And there are other fascinating golf stories to follow.

The 50 and 60-year old, Fred Couples and Tom Watson are leading at the Masters after the first round. (Not so much during day 2 with Englishmen, Westwood and Poulter, leading.)
And the humble gentleman golfer from South Africa (without any known character flaws) is coming off two consecutive wins on tour. He is tied for 16th at one under par, with our Canadian hero, Mike Weir.
And Tiger, in case we're interested in his golf, finished today at 6 under, tied for third and three strokes behind the leader.
Looks like an interesting weekend.
It is so good to be back to business as usual. Enough of the scandalous side shows. Let the politicians and other celebrities provide that fodder for the tabloids.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tiger speaks to us all

Tiger finally steps up and speaks for himself.

(OK, maybe written and edited by someone else, but it did sound sincere.)

Stood up like a man and accepted the blame, took full responsibility for his actions, admitted to being selfish, irresponsible, and lacking integrity. He defended his wife and family and asked the press to back off. Apologized to everyone that expected better from him. Admitted he needed help and was not yet ready to return to golf.

The fallen idol is still under re-construction. We still don't know if his family and his career will ever recover.

Meanwhile, let's hope the rest of us can get back to business and golf as usual. 

Monday, February 1, 2010

New skepticism

The "Tiger effect" has not only caused us to wonder about everyone else's apparently happy family life, it has also made us skeptical about any star athlete's public image.

I found myself questioning Roger Federer's very humble, gracious and appealing acceptance speech after winning the Australian Open Tennis Championship on Sunday. Is he really that charming and friendly a family guy? Or has he been well coached and rehearsed by the agents and PR people that are helping him sell that image?

Thanks Tiger, for making us all less gullible and more cynical.

Unfortunately, that's what happens when a representative of our sport, profession or industry falls from favour into public disgrace. We all have to fight the negative impression created.