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How my golf game is a perfect metaphor for my professional career


I’ve had a pretty incredible golf week. I spent last weekend playing four unbelievable courses in Brainerd (The Classic, two courses at The Pines and Deacon’s Lodge) with 12 guys as part of our almost 20-year #BrainerdCup tradition.

Then, earlier this week, I got to experience the Ryder Cup (practice round) for the first time. I’ve been to two PGA Championships and one US Open at Hazeltine National Golf Club in the past, but the Ryder Cup was something different. You could even feel it on a practice round day. But, I digress.

As I was reflecting back on the last seven days, I got to thinking: Golf is the PERFECT metaphor for my professional career. In so many ways.

Allow me to explain.


Metaphor #1: I’m a “grinder.”

I’ve been playing golf since I was probably about six years old, thanks to my Dad who got me started early. Ever since I can remember, I’ve never been a kid/guy who hit it long or got by on pure talent. No, I had to work for everything. I’m what they call a “grinder” in the golf business. Someone who lives at the course (and I did in my earlier days). Someone who doesn’t hit the ball all that well, but knows how to get around the course. Someone who is hitting balls and practicing his short game ALL the time.

I’m a “grinder” in my professional life, too. Just like with golf, I’ve never been the smartest guy in the room. I didn’t get exceptional grades in high school–or college. I never had “killer internships” with global companies or hot agencies. But, what I have been is a hard worker. Someone who always puts in the time. Someone who always raises his hand. Someone who hustles his butt off. I’m a PR “grinder.”

Metaphor #2: Great golfers have short memories

On the golf course, there’s a quality that defines many great players. They have short memories. What do mean by that? Three-putt that last hole? Forget about it and make birdie on the next one. Having a short memory in golf can be the difference between being a good player and a GREAT player. Now, I’m definitely not saying I’m a great golfer, but I will say, over the years, I’ve developed a very short memory when it comes to golf.

In my professional life, I think the short memory pays off, too. For example, in my current role as a business owner, if I lose a client (for whatever reason), it pays to have a short memory. I can’t afford to sit around and sulk–I need to buck up and look for that next client. If I’m writing social content for a client and they’re not loving it, I need to have a short memory, forget that I failed the first time around, and come back with even better copy the next time around.

Metaphor #3: Drive for show. Putt for dough.

If you’ve played golf for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the phrase: “Drive for show, putt for dough.” It’s referring to the fact that players hit drivers a helluva long ways to look good, but when it comes right down to it, putting is what really matters. On the PGA Tour, specifically, this is accurate. Everyone loves Dustin Johnson and his 350-yard drives. But, he’s not winning any majors or tournaments if he doesn’t putt well. Putting–not driving–is what wins championships. I’ve never been a long hitter, but I (usually) can putt with anyone. In fact, over the years, putting (and my short game, in general) has been my calling card.

In my professional life, I’m similar in that I’m not flashy in any way. I don’t have a big personality. I don’t dominate client conversations. I’m not trendy with my wardrobe. But, I do good work. I’m reliable. I’m easy to work with. I meet deadlines. And, I get results. In essence, I’m a good putter in my professional life, too. Drive for show, putt for dough.




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