If you’ve ever played golf, you know how frustrating it can be. I wanted to play more this summer to improve my game, so I joined a women’s league and took a few group lessons at Big Oak.
Then I broke my right thumb and index finger in a car accident. Just when my game was starting to improve!
But that hasn’t stopped me from trying to pick up tips by watching the LPGA and PGA on TV, and thinking about returning to the game.
I realized that what I learn on the course can apply to being more successful in business. So here are five tips I’ve picked up:
Know how to focus.
One thing I love about golf is that if you are going to hit a good shot, you have to focus intently on what you are doing. There’s no room in your brain to be distracted by 1,000 other things. I find when I stare hard at the ball, I hit it soundly. Just like in business, you have to focus intently on the project or problem at hand. If you allow yourself to be distracted and take your eye off the ball, you’re going to land in the rough.
Know the rules of the game intimately.
We all get in the rough once in a while, even Jordan Spieth on the 13th hole at The Open recently. Because he knew the rules of golf so well, he used them to his advantage and got out of a real pickle with just a bogey. He went on to win the Claret Jug. (Click here to read about what happened.) In business, we have to know and understand all the potential options and pitfalls. That means doing research and calling trusted advisers, not winging it.
Know the clubs in your bag.
Just like in business, succeeding at golf involves being good with your tools. When you’re 100 yards from the pin and in the rough, what club will you use? I bet it’s a different club than if you have a nice fairway lie. In business, your tools could be your staff or associates or software programs. Know their talents and utilize them appropriately depending on the situation.
Know a good teacher.
When I started playing nine holes of golf twice a week rather than once, I thought my game would start to improve. Wrong! I was just feeling doubly frustrated as I continued to play erratically. I hadn’t taken a lesson in years. I realized I needed a pro to analyze my grip and swing. After each lesson, I wrote in a notebook what the pro had said. Then I re-read my notes before I went to the driving range or played a round. What a difference. I began hitting the ball more accurately and making fewer poor shots. My husband noticed my improvement when he played with me. There’s a lot of emphasis these days on finding a good mentor, but taking a class (online or in person) or a webinar can be just as valuable.
Know that you need to move on after a bad shot.
At one of my golf lessons, the pro saw me hit a slice. “What did I do wrong?” I asked. He said, “I know what you did wrong, but I’m not going to tell you. Instead, just focus on hitting the ball the way I showed you.” I followed the checklist, and my next shot was perfect. When we make mistakes, we can’t belabor them. The pros know they can’t wallow after a poor shot. They have to hit the next one really well and the next and the next if they want to win.
Sometimes our golf games, and our business deals, come together and we hit a great drive “right down the middle,” as my dad used to cry out in delight. Other times we’re in the rough and we have to skillfully navigate our way out.
What business lessons have you picked up from playing golf or another sport?