Category Archives: business and golf

Stories behind the headlines

We all pay attention to the golf superstars and the winners of last weekend’s tournament. They get all the headlines. But sometimes better stories are buried deeper in the news. If they make the news at all.

Adam-Scott-DoralAdam Scott is having a great year, in spite of the rule change that required him to give up the long putter that had served him so well the last few seasons. Another challenge for Scott this year was having to find a new caddy to replace Steve Williams. Williams had been Tiger Woods’ caddy for a very successful twelve year run, then had more big wins with Scott before retiring last year.

So who is Scott’s new caddy and how is he doing? The new guy, David Clark, had been a PGA Tour caddy for eight years, but had never won a tournament. He started two weeks ago and Adam Scott immediately won two tournaments in a row. It seems they found the magic of a good partnership. Especially when you realize that Scott had some terrible holes in both tournaments, but then recovered to play great golf and win. Interestingly, Scott is going back to Steve Williams for the four Majors this year. Easy to understand, even for David Clark. Williams was on the bag for 13 of the 14 majors that Tiger Woods has won and was with Adam Scott when he won the Masters in 2013.

The other story behind the scenes last week, was the worst World Golf Championship score ever recorded, 37 over par (Scott won at 12 under), by Steven Bowditch, another Australian. After four rounds in the 80’s, not bad for most of us except he is a world ranked PGA Tour professional, Bowditch commented, “Hey, it’s just golf.”

He didn’t mean that he didn’t care, he just meant that he accepted that no matter how much you love the game, it doesn’t always love you back. Or as your financial advisor keeps reminding you, “Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.”

The important thing is that he didn’t give up or get down on himself. Doral is called the Blue Monster for a reason (Unfortunately, it is now conspicuously re-branded as Trump Doral by its new ego-obsessed owner). It’s a course that punishes every errant shot. Bowditch still made $48,000 for the four days and was finished early, so he could head to the practice tee and work on preparing for the next event.

Lessons for entrepreneurs: 

  1. You may have to change tools, tactics and technologies, but talent and hard work can still make you a winner.
  2. Choose good partners that complement what you do best, give you honest feedback and help you make better decisions.
  3. Do not be discouraged by one bad week,

And keep hitting them long and straight,

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Read more articles like this one at: Business is Like Golf Blog

Visit and join our mailing list for more ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Check out Uncle Ralph’s books, "Don't Do It the Hard Way" and "The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans" Available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.


Jordan Spieth2Last year Jordan Spieth made history with five PGA wins, including two Majors and the FedEx Cup, for over $20 million in earnings as a 22-year old.

Can he repeat that performance this season?  Well, against the other Tour winners in a high profile tournament in Hawaii last month he won by eight strokes. That's pretty convincing.

A few more tournaments around the world and he has only finished occasionally in the Top Five.  So he doesn't win them all, but he is still No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings in spite of pressure from Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Ricky Fowler.

Spieth is a year older and wiser with lessons learned from winning under pressure last year.  He will be tough to beat.  We will be watching at the Masters in April.

How is that like business?

One year is not enough. Each year you start again from zero and try to repeat your best performance.  No one is very impressed unless you can sustain it.

Consider Phil Mickelson - challenging himself and the competition for twenty-five years with forty-two wins including five Majors and still in the mix to win again until the last putt on the 18th green at Pebble Beach last Sunday. He has already won the Masters three times (2004, 2006, 2010), so maybe the 45-year old will be duelling with Spieth in April. It will be fun to watch.




Day@BMWJason Day achieved his goals on the weekend, winning the BMW Championship, leading in the FedEx Cup standings and becoming No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings.

It was the No. 1 ranking that he was most excited about - a lifelong goal achieved at age 27 after six years as a professional golfer.  And proudly the third Australian after Greg Norman  (before the Tiger Woods reign) and Adam Scott more recently.  Day has been impressive with nearly flawless golf over the last two months and dominant in three of his last five tournaments, including the British and Canadian Opens. He is now one of only five golfers in the last 36 years that have one five or more PGA tournaments in a season.  The others are Tom Watson, Nick Price, Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods - 10 times! (We still can't get used to him not being a threat to win every outing.)

Jason Day announced his goal to be No. 1 eight years ago when he first started on the PGA Tour and was ridiculed for it. It did seem an impossible dream when Tiger Woods was well into his longest reign at the top of World Golf Rankings over the five years that ended in 2010.  And now competition is even tougher, as Day readily acknowledges.  Over the last five years, the No.1 spot has changed names 19 times (three times in the last two weeks between Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy) among eight different players, including Woods again in 2013.

Driven by competition.

Day explains his motivation and performance as being inspired first by Tiger Woods and now by his biggest challengers - Spieth and McIlroy.

Another reminder: competition is good for everybody.



Jason Day PGA ChampFriendly Competition Inspires Everybody

The PGA Championship on Sunday saw the fans’ new favourite Jordan Spieth against the talented Australian Jason Day in a head-to-head contest that was an impressive display of superb golf and exceptional sportsmanship. Inspiration for us all. Meanwhile Rory McIlroy, the third superstar in this newly anointed trio of golf’s “Big Three” was lurking not far behind, in spite of it being his first competition after six weeks of recovery from a sprained ankle.

All three young players continue to demonstrate great respect for each other as competitors and for the traditions and history of the game. Fiercely competitive all, they keep it in perspective. As McIlroy himself said recently, “It may be a big deal to those of us in this bubble, but in the rest of the world only a very small percentage are even interested.”

And in spite of the big stakes, they are all friends. Chatting and grinning, enjoying each other’s good shots, Spieth and Day continued battling to the 18th hole. Winning by three shots, Jason Day won the Championship and $1.8 million while making history with the lowest score ever in a Major golf tournament at -20. Jordan Spieth had to settle for second and only $1 million, but also made history beating Tiger Woods’ record for lowest score in Jordan Spieth2the four Majors in one year at -54. (He won the first two – the Masters and US Open.). He also bumped Rory McIlroy out of #1 in the World Golf rankings.

Three very impressive and talented young men of character. Inspiring us by demonstrating that competition does not have to be like war. You do not have to hate your opponents as enemies. All is not fair. You can still focus on winning while playing by the rules and respecting your competitors.

Keep it in mind for your next round.


This year's Honda Classic was a fascinating and dramatic display of old talent coming back and new talent rising fast.

The Honda Classic - Final RoundIn a final round play-off on Monday 43-year old veteran Padraig Harrington prevailed over 21-year old rookie Daniel Berger who had an outstanding final round of 64 to surge into the lead from nine shots back. The other contenders fell behind as they made costly mistakes on the tour's toughest course at the PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

What made it interesting was the spectacle of former champions challenging the rising stars.  Tiger Woods was a no show and Rory McIlroy failed to make the cut. Other 40-year olds that have made a run for it recently include Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen.Champion_Hole_No_5

Harrington twice won the British Open and then the PGA Championship, but all back in 2007-2008. Since then he had lost the magic and fell from the top to about 300 rungs lower, right off the tour.  Always analytical and hard working he kept at it and suddenly was a winner again this week. It wasn't pretty, but he never has been. Missed some short putts and hit it into the water, but also made some great long putts and hit it close often enough to come back into a tie after four rounds and hang on to win with a bogey on the second play-off hole.

All encouragement for the prospect of a comeback to former times of glory. Maybe short-lived and maybe only close, but always worth the consistent effort, patience and persistence.

In business like golf.

An old Blog post, that is worth repeating for the lessons it reinRicky Fowlerforces.

My Dad used to say, “Nothing succeeds like success”. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression also. My interpretation is that the more you succeed the more you and others expect to see you succeed.

It is true in business and golf. A couple of examples.

Out for another round with my 7-year old grandson and this time he did much better. A strong, smooth swing was connecting more frequently and sending the ball long and straight (for a 7-year old). Every golfer’s favourite swing result. On top of that he rammed a couple of 4 to 5-foot putts straight into the cup to the surprise of all of us watching and to his delight. He was so encouraged with his game that he insisted on going immediately after the round over to the driving range and the practice green. He was motivated to get better and enjoy the game even more.

I had a similar experience earlier this week in a rare round with my son-in-law. He is a very competitive former fullback with a vicious swing and a huge slice that he manages to keep in the fairway. We were both ready to impress each other. I got the better start.

Off the first tee, a short dogleg left downhill to a small well-bunkered green, I hit a perfect (for me) 5-iron that drew around the corner and ran down about 225 yards. Hit a full sandwedge about 100 yards and landed right side of the pin, then sank a curling 18-foot putt for birdie. I’m loving this course! (Son-in-law lost his drive in the trees and went downhill, literally, from there.)

The rest of my round was the usual roller coaster from par to triple bogey but I was not bothered after the great starting hole and the expectation by me and my playing partners that I was going to hit it well. That first hole just kept me confident and relaxed for the day and happy to come back soon.

The lesson learned was one often stated by the pros, “Keep visualizing your successes instead of your failures and that is what you are more likely to repeat.”

And Europe wins again, decisively.  How can all the golf stars from America keep coming up short in the team competition against Europe known as the Ryder Cup? Held every two years, it's now 8 out of the last 10 won by Europe.Ryder Cup

Somehow the European players from the UK, Germany, Sweden and France have found a way to play better golf consistently.  My observation is that the Europeans are able to focus on playing their best golf under pressure by focusing on the team and keeping it fun.  The Americans get preoccupied with patriotism, pride and politics  - looking good for their country  - and choke on the pressure.  Not their best golf.

It would be easy to blame it on the nature of PGA Tour golf as an individual sport. For 23 months of 24 (ignoring the occasional interruption for the President's Cup - US against the rest of the world except Europe - and now the occasional Olympic experience) every tournament is about earning some prize money and looking good for the sponsors.  Then suddenly there is a new commitment required to represent your country against very high expectations and the constant questioning of why him, not another guy? It would be unfair to suggest any lack of motivation because of the missing prize money.  This is not the FedEx Cup playoffs worth over $10 million to the winner.

So the biggest challenge goes to the captain of these solitary golf superRyder Europestars getting them to think differently for  the Ryder Cup.  Stay focused and relaxed to perform at your best. Paul McGinley got the best out of his team, Tom Watson did not. Selecting a captain for coaching skills is more important than recognizing past champions for their accomplishments.

Very similar to the Sales Manager trying to manage a group of individual sales reps all focused on making their commissions and bonuses.  Requiring them to be part of the larger team and move together towards corporate objectives of profitability and long term value respecting social and environmental responsibilities.  Not a simple tweaking of sales compensation, but constant coaching to play as a team and achieve winning results.

A great perspective by Brad Ziemer at Vancouver Sun Sports the golf industry crisis. Mark Twain Worth $14.3 billion a year in Canada alone, it is struggling with economic difficulties and changing consumer preferences.

Some experts believe golf is in decline - fewer golfers, less interest in a 5-hour sporting commitment and too challenging to be a relaxing break for the constantly connected.  Ziemer quotes Mark Twain describing golf as "a good walk spoiled," but also suggests his comment that "reports of my death are greatly exaggerated " may be more appropriate.

The challenge for golf is to keep the traditions that make it attractive while adapting to make it more appealing for everyone.  Maybe more player friendly nine-hole courses, and some special fun events, but please forget the death-wish fulfilling gimmicks like saucer greens and 8-inch holes.  The industry simply has to accept the inevitable business cycles.

The infatuation with Tiger Woods has ended.  He is still a draw for tour events and TV audieFedEx cupnces, but declining with every year he ages.  And no longer the role model for young athletes.  Fans and potential golfers are now drawn to Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler and other young stars.  The big money on tour will also appeal to some parents and their athletic children as they assess career options in professional sport.

But the sport will never have the "everyman" appeal of soccer, basketball or baseball. Ricky Fowler It is
 more exclusive, expensive and demanding - like tennis or hockey.

Meanwhile, let's enjoy the game.






mistakesI got a call from my boss today.

He said, "Is everything OK  at the office?"

I said, "It's a little hectic, but no problem.  Everything is under control."

"Great," he said, "but can I ask you a favour?"

I said, "Sure, what is it."

He said, "Can you speed it up a little, I'm in the foursome behind you."



Too much time has passed since my last posting. Apologies to any avid subscribers, but I expect my absence was hardly noticed. My feeble excuse was being away for a dynamite golf and family visit in beautiful BC.

It was easy to be distracted by the spectacular scenery of BC at it's best in May/June. Lush green hillsides rising to snow-capped mountains reflected in the clear blue lakes. And we experienced a perfect father and son day at Whistler with a morning of spring skiing on Blackcomb and an afternoon of golf at Nicklaus North with a black bear on the 7th tee and waterskiers around the 17th green. Not to mention the outstanding sushi feast at Whistler Village.

So back to business after the reminder of how it's like golf. As my father would say about baseball "It's not good enough to swing and hope". You have to study, practice, and do it a lot to succeed. Watching it on TV or reading about it may help a little, not a lot. Better equipment is not the easy answer. Keeping score is the only way to really know how you're doing. And I'm sure there are other ways business is like golf. Material for a future Blog. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile enjoy the summer weekends, golf or no golf.