Editorial Viewpoint: How’s your golf game?

Chatting with the panelists at our spring roundtable, I was once again reminded of how many CIOs are golfers these days. Like me, it seems like most of you can’t resist chasing after that refractory hunk of rubber (okay, polybutadiene, for the literal minded). And even as we attain to ever greater heights of futility, we are awestruck by the likes of Tiger, Phil, and Retief, who show us week after week that the willful white sphere can, in fact, be tamed. As the PGA loves to remind us, these guys are good.

But what makes them good? And can we learn something from their mastery that we can apply in our day jobs?

With but few exceptions, most notably John Daly (“Practice rounds suck!”), the world’s top golfers are dedicated to the notion of continuous personal improvement, some almost fanatically so (stand up Vijay Singh). They understand that if they are to remain among the elite in their profession, the status quo won’t cut it — if they’re not improving themselves, they’re falling behind. CIOs are no strangers to the concept of continuous improvement; they apply it to their IT shops all the time. But do they apply it rigorously to themselves? If you aspire to be at the top of your profession, that’s the price of admission.

Tiger, of course, is the best of the best, and his mastery over the world’s toughest courses appears nothing short of miraculous to the weekend warrior. I have it on good authority, however, that there is no divine intervention involved. Notwithstanding his amazing physical ability, much of Tiger’s wizardry derives from good hard work honing some the same skills necessary for the job of CIO.

Preparation — Tiger is meticulous at scoping out the course prior to tackling it.

Technology smarts — Though a classic technology geek, he’s ultimately cautious about introducing new technology to his game. When he does, it usually pays dividends.

Project/risk management — A bit overaggressive at times, but he has an excellent grasp of the capabilities he can bring to bear, and is unparalleled at maximizing the return on his resources.

Creativity — He’s not afraid to give rein to his imagination. He can find a creative answer to every problem.

HR savvy — He surrounds himself with a great support team. Direct report Stevie Williams is one of the best caddies in the business. Ditto for coaches Hank Haney and Butch Harmon. This list could go on and on, but the point should be clear. There’s a whole lot more to being at the top of your profession than natural ability. You’ve got to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and keep working on your skills. See you on the links.



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