How’s your recovery shot?


This year’s Masters was another amazing edition of one of the world’s most-watched golf tournaments. Seeing a 21-year-old player display poise beyond his years and smash all sorts of records en route to his first major championship was inspiring. It was awesome to see great performances from some of the veteran champions, too. Watching the Masters this year reinforced for me the idea that there are parallel skills in golf and business.

One of the most important of those skills is the recovery shot. The best golfers in the world all seem to have an uncanny ability to follow up a bad shot with a really good one. That is as important in the business world as it is in championship golf.

We’re human, and we all make mistakes. Errors in judgment can have a range of consequences, from a missed opportunity to close a deal to the loss of a client. Much like in golf, the ability to recover and make up for mistakes is what separates the average businessperson from a really good one.

In a recent post, I wrote about four business lessons that golf taught me. The closer I look, the more lessons golf offers for doing business.

Sunday’s final round of the Masters was fun to watch, as much for the great shots as the drama surrounding the bad ones. I’m sure I wasn’t the only viewer who was impressed by runner-up Justin Rose’s performance. If you didn’t get to see it, he was paired with eventual winner Jordan Spieth and for much of the final 18 holes was just a few strokes back. Here’s an example of a great recovery.

Rose scored a miracle par on hole No. 7. It was a miracle because he made two consecutive poor shots, and bogey or worse looked likely. If I were the one playing from those lies, the score would’ve been much worse. After Rose’s 291-yard tee shot landed behind a tree, he hit his second shot a mere 51 yards – and he was still in the trees. The recovery shot he hit from there got him onto the green and close enough to make a par putt, which swirled around the rim of the cup before dropping. Whew! Rose’s scorecard showed a 4 on the hole, but it was a hard-fought par.

Now put that into the context of a business relationship. What do you do if things get off to a rough start with a prospect? Or what if things tee off perfectly but the approach shot is way off? As in golf, nothing in business is automatic. Each stroke stands on its own, and you have to execute each one. Good scores – and good business relationships — don’t just happen; you have to make them happen.

Preparation and practice are keys to winning. There are no accidental champions at Augusta National or in the marketplace. Everybody starts out with a plan, but life happens. Plans can and do change. The ability to make the right changes at the right time can mean the difference between losing and winning. As Ben Hogan, one of only five men to have won the career Grand Slam in golf, said: “The most important shot in golf is the next one.”

Tiger Woods, who returned to form at this year’s Masters and had one of his best performances since 2013, offers a good illustration of focusing on the next shot. Using that strategy, he scored a miracle birdie on hole No. 13. Watch it here. After an awful tee shot, Tiger had to pull off a great recovery shot, which he did. His focus and execution helped get him into position to score well. But none of that could’ve happened without practice and discipline. Tiger’s preparation helped him believe he could do it.

In business, I believe that preparation, focus and conviction can help organizations get where they need to be. What business lessons do you see in the game of golf?