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The Zen of Golf

For years, I have fantasized about learning to golf. But I never had time. So, whenever I attend a produce conference and there is a golf tournament, I always feel a little regret in that I cannot participate. Golf in business is a great way to spend quality time with others, including customers.

So this year, I decided there are a few things I want to do now that I am an empty nester. On top of that list was to see if I like golf.

I was careful to set my intention to find out if I liked golf vs. deciding to absolutely learn it.

So, a couple of months ago, I was at breakfast with a produce friend and I casually mentioned that this year I wanted to see if I liked golf. He immediately told me that we have a mutual friend, who recently retired from the produce industry and is a great golfer. As a sideline, he is teaching golf! He shared his contact information with me.

Shortly afterward, I was on a business trip and had the opportunity to play nine holes with a few colleagues. Turns out, I can hit the ball (apparently, that is not always normal during your first-ever round). And, as luck would have it, one of my co-workers had a brand-new set of golf clubs his wife had never used, and he gladly gifted them to me.

So, I was set. I had a set of clubs. An instructor. All I had to do was buy a golf glove!

I’m not very far into learning golf: I’ve had a couple of lessons and hit about 500 balls at the driving range.

But my biggest learning thus far is that there are many parallels between golf and work:

Golf Clears Your Head 

Golf is time-consuming. It can take 5 to 6 hours for a full round. While some people complain that golf takes too much time, I see these hours as a time to myself to get away from the daily grind. Sometimes you need to step away from your work to clear your head. That “white space” of not thinking about work helps us be more focused when we return to our desks.

Concentrate on the Game

Just like in business, whether you are in sales, finance, operations, or marketing, when you are working you need to not be distracted by non-business things or it affects your performance. You must leave your personal issues at the door. When you are getting ready to hit the ball, you cannot be thinking about anything else but the game at hand.

Get a Grip

Literally! During my first two lessons, my instructor spent a lot of time reiterating how important it is to correctly grip the club. Not too tight. Hands in the correct position. In business, do we have the right tools and are we using them correctly? Or do we take shortcuts? Do we prepare for meetings in the same disciplined manner each time, or do we rush through (because we’ve done it many times before)?

Find a Coach

I knew when I wanted to learn golf that I needed a good teacher. I interviewed a few people, and price was not the deciding factor. I wanted someone with experience, who was patient and had a track record of coaching other players. All great athletes have a coach. Just because they have won or have a lot of experience, that doesn’t stop them from hiring the best coach possible. It should be the same in business. I recently hired a business coach to help me be a better CEO. Having a coach helps (especially if you are open to brutally honest feedback).

Practice Really Does Make Perfect

I guess this is kind of obvious in golf. Practice, practice, practice! But how many of us practice at work? If we are in sales, is the first time we give a presentation in front of the customer? Or do we practice ahead of time? It doesn’t really make sense to practice on the customer, does it?

As I continue my golf journey, I’ve noticed that I get frustrated with my performance sometimes. And it’s usually because I am not concentrating on my game. Or I was not visualizing what I want to happen. Or I got distracted by something around me.

And I sometimes get frustrated at work. It’s usually because I am not concentrating. Or I am not visualizing what I want to happen. Or I get distracted by something around me.

I’ve decided I do like golf. And the lessons I’ve learned are some that I did not expect.


Frieda's Specialty Produce - What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen Caplan Golifing
Here is me golfing on a recent business trip.


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