I’m not a person that will often spend a Sunday afternoon watching golf on TV, but I must admit that every spring, I look forward to watching the last round of the Masters.
Golf is a sport that rewards practice, consistency, strategy and courage, and the Masters is the event that illustrates this best. It attracts the best golfers in the world, and sets a stage that motivates them to the limits of their game, often resulting in tremendous drama.
Even though it’s a sporting event, there is much that we as manufacturers and company leaders can learn from it. Business, after all, is a competition, just like a golf tournament. The players are all competitors, in business and in sports; they all strive to be the best overall, and to try to win the day.
Bubba Watson won the event on this day, in a very dramatic fashion. Many people are going to point to his shot out of the trees on the first playoff hole as the reason he won and, indeed, it was a difference maker. The reason he could make that shot is where the lessons lay.
In an interview, he described the thoughts leading up to that shot, saying he “saw the shot in his mind and then just hit it,” completely confident that he could bend it 40 yards left to right, around the trees, and land it on the green.
But simply “seeing it” doesn’t tell the whole story. These athletes can only make these incredible shots that they see in their minds because they practice relentlessly just to be
ready for that particular time. Every shot that they may need to make in the course of a tournament has been practised repeatedly and regularly — tee shots, fairway shots, approach shots, sand shots and, yes, even 40-yard benders out of the trees.
Earlier in the day, Louis Oosthuizen hit his own perfect shot when he double-eagled the second hole — the first ever on the second hole and only the fourth in Masters history, setting up the drama for the finish. And before that, Bo Van Pelt hit a perfect shot when he aced the par three 16th hole. But as incredible as some of these shots were, individual shots don’t win the day. When you only win by a single shot, making every other shot is equally as important to the outcome. The difference for many of the top competitors that day was not the shots they made, but the shots that they failed to make.
As riveting as the final holes and playoffs were, I found the interviews with the new champion equally compelling. Bubba Watson plays the game a little different than anyone else, choosing to rely on his own approach to the game, and each shot, never having taken a lesson to learn someone else’s techniques. Does he think everyone else is doing it wrong? No, not all; he just understands that it’s not right for him. He knows his own game, and he plays the game that he knows.
There are many life and business lessons that can be learned from sports, and the 2012 Masters tournament is no exception.
It’s June now — perfect golfing weather. It’s time to get in a few rounds. Just think of it as working on your business while you are working on your game.
This column originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.