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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Applying Business to Golf

Like always on vacation, I took with me 3 books that I intended to read. Like always, I read less than one chapter in only one of the three books. The book, Golf is Not a Game of Perfect, by Dr. Bob Rotella explains the mental edge that professional golfers have that many nonprofessional duffers don’t have.

In the 9th chapter (I already read the first 8 before vacation) he tells of his work with a young professional golfer who just finished shooting a 73.

“I told him that I didn’t look at length off the tee when I assessed potential. I want to know how strong a player’s mind is and how well he plays the scoring game with his wedges and his putter.”
He went on to explain to this golfer that after reviewing his round of 73 he determined that all of his strokes except 9 fell into one of 3 categories: drives, wedges and puts. Throw out the 14 drives and he played 50 strokes with his wedge or putter. After reading this, my first reaction to this was next time I go to the range, I’m leaving my driver in the bag and hitting only my wedges. My next thought was "but I love hitting my driver and it really needs some work.”

This is the reason that I, like so many others remain average at golf and never become better. We spend a majority of our time on something that doesn’t help improve our game. In this professional’s circumstance 68% of his shots were used with clubs the average person doesn’t like to practice hitting.

Now, 68% isn’t quite 80%, but I think the number is close enough to resemble an 80:20 ratio we’ve all heard of before where we spend 20% of our time working on things that become 80% of our productivity and 80% of our time on 20% productivity.

This well known principle has been quoted, cited and rehearsed at about every business conference ever conducted. It is for this reason that I feel leaving work a little early Monday to play golf with business leaders in the community at this course is perfectly acceptable. It’s not golf. It’s the application of a widely accepted business principle amongst a focus group of executives.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.