Sand Traps, Business Hazards

One of the worst places any golfer wants to end up is in a sand trap. A good golfer may relish the challenge and usually makes quick work of getting out of trouble. However,  an amateur can quickly and easily run up their stroke count unless they have spent time practicing and using a tried and trusted strategy to get the ball to a better lie.
Water hazards are a deceiving difficulty. Some golfers lose all confidence and perspective when faced with having to hit over a pond or stream.
Natural hazards, like trees and dense vegetation, require consideration and often, decision-making without all known facts available.
The funny thing is that these hazards; sand traps, water, plant life and the “rough” are not hidden from view; anyone with decent eyesight can see these obstacles as they tee off and move down the fairway.
In business, sometimes the hazards are seen but more often than not, they come as a surprise.
Many times the hazards are behind the owner, over ground thought to be already covered. Picture a water hazard showing up out of nowhere time and time again when you thought you’d already dealt with it successfully.
Sometimes the hazards are man-made, on the owner’s team, which is disconcerting because golf is, in fact a team sport when played at the professional level; consisting of the golfer and caddy.
I’ve identified a few traps that an owner is almost certainly going to deal with, and they apply to hackers, golfers and any owner who has spent time at the 19th hole or has watched “Tin Cup” or “Caddyshack.”
The first known hazard is that is assuming change is not required. Golfers play on unfamiliar courses all the time; equipment changes and upgrades are unveiled; pins and tee boxes are moved; weather and temperature can play factor as well as the individuals in the two-some or four-some.
The owner that thinks nothing is going to change in their world is simply delusional. Yet I know owners who still operate their business like it was 1965, in some cases, before that.
The second difficulty is in golf; the course provides an idea of leading indicators by hole. This is called par, and each hole is calculated to determine how many strokes it should take a solid golfer to get from the tee to the hole.
Unfortunately, many owners lack any meaningful leading indicators, so instead they pour over past performance in the hope of getting a clue as to what the future looks like.
As an example, if sales have been declining or remained flat the last few years results might be projected to continue along that trend.
On the other hand, if a quantifiable sales plan was laid out, by month, for the next year or two, with targets and business development people assigned to each prospect, the future might turn out differently than the past.
Yet, how many owners have a sales plan to hold people accountable for achieving? It is not a rhetorical question, it is an honest one and yet many owners aren’t prepared to state the answer.
The third tough lie is that in golf, it is pretty apparent who is following you around the course.
The big names, like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, have a healthy flock behind them at every hole. The fans are visible and pretty supportive. Golf being the game of gentlemen and gentlewomen, heckling is out.
In business, the owner is never sure who is playing with, or against them. It sometimes appears that every employee has their own agenda and often it is at odds with the owner.
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen nodding heads around a meeting table and within an hour, every commitment made has been forgotten or ignored.
Owners need to carefully note who is just following because they have to or because there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and who is supportive because the difference is success or failure.
Golf is a lot like business; you have limited resources to achieve the same goal as your competition.
In the end, it is the attitude and approach of the owner to determine what number appears on his or her scorecard. The number is determined by how you play, every day, with your team.