Tee Times Magazine, March 2013

Improve Your Performance in Business and Golf – and Enjoy the Game

From Tee Times Magazine, March 2013 Issue

There is no feeling worse than starting your round off on bad note – perhaps you have experienced this, too. When I played golf as a kid, my mind would shut down if I played the first few holes poorly. I remember one day in particular when I abruptly ended my round after double-bogeying the first two holes, despite the beautiful weather and my parents’ company on the course. I had birdied each of the remaining 16 holes on the course at one point or another in my life, but never considered that I could turn my game around that day and have a breakthrough. More importantly, I was not enjoying the game as much as I should have been. Clearly, my mindset needed to change.

After 30 years of being around golf as a competitor, teacher, coach, and now performance coach, I realize how much that experience has changed my viewpoints on how I work with individuals and businesses to improve their performances. Many people tend to get stuck in the past and do not know how to move forward, like me on the course that day. This is often a result of not considering the possibilities and a lack of clarity.

Several years ago, I worked with a management and sales team from a local car dealership. They were seeking new tools to strengthen their team, improve sales, and grow the business. Through the coaching process, I realized that their sales team would sell 10 cars per month, on average, and it took four hours to make each sale. This means that only 40 hours per month were focused on direct sales, while the other three weeks were set up as prospecting. The amount of time they spent selling cars was not as much as they thought.

The same is true about playing the game of golf. Think about it this way: If an average golfer shoots 90, and it takes him or her 10 seconds per shot, then that is 15 minutes worth of ball hitting time. An average round can take four hours to play – that means three hours, forty-five minutes are not spent making shots. What you choose to do with the time between shots is critical for allowing your mind to re-focus and engage in a target when it is time to hit the ball.

Throughout the years, I discovered many coaching methods to help people play better golf without having to fix their mechanics. I often saw the swing would change when the individual changed his or her focus. For example, most of the time when golfers hit bad shots, they skip over the possibility that they lost focus on their target through the point of impact and immediately assume something was wrong with their swing. They then spend time analyzing how to fix their mechanics when there was nothing wrong to begin with. Similarly, the sales team did not forget how to sell, they just needed to re-focus and use their time more efficiently.

The Relation between Golf and Business

Golf challenges people to use their minds from an extremely strategic side. Through a pre-assessment, we help people recognize what is holding them back from achieving their goals. Often times, we are amazed how similar the game of golf is to the challenges we face in business. Golfers and non-golfers enjoy many of the activities in which our clients participate because they see how fast they can improve their performance by changing their focus.

As part of our workshops, we have our clients putt five different ways, and we have tracked their experiences over the past 15 years. Overall, less than 1% putt better doing it their perceived “correct way.” We can then explore what is the best way to putt for each individual. Clients begin to understand, through the motion and results, how to look at things differently when they get stuck on the course or at work.

The same approach to improving golf performance can be used to drive awareness, creative thinking, and change off the course. In our coaching workshops, we call it designed thinking. Some of our clients have learned to enjoy the value of the game while, at the same time, improving their bottom lines 10-50% in one year just by recognizing new possibilities. While instruction or training may be vital, the experiential learning through golf has allowed our clients to improve their performances.

Over the next several articles, you will develop strategies that you can apply both on and off the course. These include how to get the most out of your abilities, being more aware of your targets and goals, dealing with interference, and considering all the possibilities. Whether you are an owner or employee, beginner or tournament player, you will enjoy learning about the business and golf from new perspectives.