Tuesday, 28 January 2020

4 Things Golf Taught Me About Running a Company

For many people golf is a weekend sport. For others, it’s where they do business, whether 
playing with colleagues or customers. For everyone, though, it’s an opportunity to get out 
on the links on a nice day, combine competition with collegiality and enjoy playing 18 holes 
in a quiet place, free from the pressures of the world. It’s a wonderful escape.

Leaders can also learn a lot about decision-making while on the course. If you take a 
moment to look around and observe your surroundings, you’ll stop and realize how much 
strategic planning it took to create the moment you’re now experiencing. As a club member, 
you’re the customer. This is what went into creating your perfect afternoon.

Product development

Someone designed the course. There was an actual person and, in some cases team, that 
had a vision and planned out all 18 holes. Before the course was built, it was a large tract 
of land; essentially a blank canvas. A designer who looked at it and determined how to turn 
that space into a golf course that would offer both fun and challenge for the golfer. 
Topography was factored in as decisions were made regarding where to place fairways, 
water hazards, sand traps, tees, holes, and other features. All these decisions combined to 
create a unique, enjoyable playing experience. As business leaders we need to employ 
similar strategic considerations as we plan products and services to deliver to our 
customers and clients.

Creating an experience

In the last several years there’s been a lot of talk in the business world about not selling a 
product or service, but an experience. Marketers talk this way all the time. You’re not 
buying a Titleist TS2, Callaway Mavik or Taylormade SIM driver; you’re buying the 
experience of hitting longer and straighter drives thereby lowering your score and winning 
more rounds. It’s the same at the club to which you belong.

The experience begins the moment you drive off the road and up a quiet, leafy driveway 
that leads to the clubhouse parking lot. You’re no longer in the big, bad noisy world. You’ve 
entered a place of serene quiet that provides enjoyment, comfort and recreation. From the 
parking lot to the locker room, from the course to the dining room and until you leave, the 
experience has been carefully created to provide you and your fellow members with a 
certain level of elegance and value for your membership investment. At your company, are 
you committed to creating a satisfying customer experience at every touch point?

Attention to detail

Most people wouldn’t realize the level of detail that goes into developing a golf course or 
the attached club/clubhouse. But there is, and it was all determined with the customer in 
mind. For example, ask a groundskeeper about the greens, and he’s likely to tell you what 
grass or combination of grasses, were used to craft different parts of the course; how the 
mower is set to keep it at optimal height, how often it’s watered, and how divots are 
replaced. There’s much that goes into just that part of the playing experience, and even 
more into the other features and amenities you encounter. Attention to detail is important, 
both in golf and in the work you do at your company.

Membership retention

Maintaining membership is among the most important priorities at a golf club. In our 
business lives, we call them customers. At a golf club, where dues are often substantial, 
close attention is paid to members’ needs and wants. If a member expresses concern 
about anything related to the club, that person receives a prompt response and the 
problem is dealt with. A good golf club will continually ask members for comments and 
suggestions and listen closely, then consider how to address each. Without satisfied 
members, there are no golf clubs. Without satisfied customers, we have no business.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Why I Love Setting (and Achieving) Goals

When I was planning to go to college, I had a difficult decision to make. What do I want to do with my life? After four years of playing high school golf, captaining my team and dedicating myself to golf, my fork in the road only went in two directions: playing golf professionally or getting involved in the business side of the sport.

Ultimately, I decided to go to Las Vegas, where I would spend the next four years studying professional golf management and recreation management at UNLV while participating in internships at some of the nation’s best courses.
Following graduation, I held a variety of golf-related positions, continued to play golf and became a member of the PGA. After working in golf marketing, I realized that I loved being on the business side of my favorite sport; so much, in fact, that I decided to open a golf facility in Canada that offers, among other things, simulated play, lessons, and a pro shop.
None of this would be possible if I hadn’t learned about the importance of goal-setting. Today, I realize how extremely important it is in business. I love goal-setting because it helps me move forward in my career.
I believe that everyone who owns or runs a business should set goals and stick to them. They give you something concrete and specific to strive for. Here’s how I approach them.
First, ask yourself what you want to accomplish. It should be both ambitious and attainable, and stated in specific terms. Maybe you want to grow revenue by X percent over the next year. It might be that you want to introduce a new product, service or brand by a certain date. Perhaps you ‘d like to open a new branch or location. By doing this you’re giving yourself a to-do item and a deadline. Both components are very important. It’s really easy, without a timeframe, to say you’ll do it someday. Having a deadline keeps you on track to succeed.
Second, your goal should be integrated with your business strategy. In other words, once you’ve established your goal, you’ll want to develop a list of all the action items it will take to achieve it. Action is a key word here. Goals are only ideas until you apply action to them to make them happen. And each action item on your to-do list relevant to achieving that goal should have its own deadline. I would suggest using your deadline for reaching the goal as a target date and work backward from there to create the strategy (again, with deadlines) that you’ll employ to achieve that goal.
Third, once you’ve established your goal, you must monitor progress on an ongoing basis. This will help you ensure that you’re staying on track. It’s very easy to be distracted by day-to-day- things that take attention away from your progress toward your goals. If you want to reach your goal by the date you’ve established, you have to check in regularly to ensure that everything is happening when it’s supposed to. Hopefully you’ll see that you’re making good progress, but maybe you’ll find you’ve fallen behind. In that case, you’ll need to modify what you’re doing, or modify the goal. For example, you might want to achieve your goal by April 1 but now you realize that it’s not realistic to for that to happen until May 1 or June 1. Had you not set a specific goal upfront, you might not have even addressed it until the following year.
Many business leaders start each calendar year, or each fiscal year, with a list of annual goals. Those goals are often broken into monthly objectives that help them and their team work toward achievement one step at a time. In today’s hectic business environment, that makes perfect sense. As you move across your timeline and experience incremental progress, you’ll be motivated to keep working hard, working smart and working toward reaching your goals.
Then, once you reach your goals, you can take satisfaction in it. There are few things in business more satisfying than being able to occasionally stop, take a break and say, “We did it.”

Thursday, 17 October 2019

A Secret to Business Success: Always Be Learning

There was a time when entrepreneurs and business leaders had a somewhat limited 
knowledge base that would help guide them through 40 or more years of their career. 
Things didn’t change much. They did business with a certain set of customers while 
continuing to pitch and sell new ones on essentially the same products and services 
they’d been selling since they started. Sure, there were small changes and the 
occasional new advances. But for the most part, as you can see in Barry Levinson’s 
excellent movie Tin Men, aluminum siding back then was aluminum siding.

How things have changed. My generation grew up with access to the entire world via 
our computers and smartphones. We know who’s doing what at any hour of the day. 
Real-time is the rule, not the exception. And thanks to technology, we can be not only 
aware of new business developments in mere seconds, but we can also make deals 
and communicate with colleagues and customers anywhere in the world whenever 
we want to. What this means to entrepreneurs and business leaders is that it’s crucial 
to continue increasing your knowledge to stay competitive. Learn as much as you can 
as often as you can. 
Today, there is no dearth of opportunities for business leaders to continue enriching 
themselves about their industries, the business world and the newest developments in 
virtually any field. What used to be called continuing education is now everyday education. 
The information is out there and much of it is free.

I urge you: take advantage of it.

As a student in Las Vegas, and later, as a professional in the golfing and hospitality 
environment, I always tried to learn new things that would help me navigate my career 
and move myself toward success.

I was also regularly attending events that enabled me to not only market the products I 
was hired to represent, but to learn what others were selling. Seeing and trying new 
things and comparing and contrasting them gave me a real edge in my chosen industry. 
My mind was active. Learning new things in the golfing business was always, and 
continues to be, time well spent.

If you own a company, want to own one or just want to be really valuable in the company 
for which you work, I strongly recommend becoming a lifelong learner. Know your 
landscape better than anyone else in it. Look for online or in-person classes or courses 
that can help you develop new skills or enhance the ones you already have. Attend trade 
shows and conventions where you can network with others. Check out websites on a 
regular basis, especially news sites and those that cover your business interests. 

It’s a global marketplace these days, my friend. Knowing as much as you can about the 
world economy and other cultures, as well as what’s happening in other countries’ 
industries, will also enhance your already stellar leadership skills. If information is power, 
education is the advantage.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Achieving Mental Toughness in Golf: Tips to Improve Your Game

Do you ever wonder why your head sometimes gets in the way of your game? Often times, even the most advanced golfers struggle to maintain a consistent golf swing or miss an easy putt. Maybe it’s even difficult to concentrate for a full 18 holes of golf.

If any of these roadblocks sound familiar, then it's likely you would benefit from some proven mental golf tips to strengthen your golf game.

The good news is, mental toughness is not unreachable. It takes a bit of patience, some practice and self awareness to play at a higher level than you currently are at.

As an instructor, I have had the privilege to play alongside and teach some great golfers over the years; however, I’ve noticed a commonality that for many, the mental approach to the game is where they struggle most. I see it time and time again. A golfer starts out his round with a string of pars only to double or triple bogey the middle nine holes and ruin his score.

That one bad shot starts to get into his or her head and he or she begins trying to fix their swing to compensate. This is where the problem lies. Instead of trying to overcompensate for the bad shot, a golfer must learn how to avoid the frustration that can infiltrate his mind during a difficult round of golf.

First, I suggest lowering the bar a little bit. The game is about accepting the result of your shot and working on it to improve. Setting the bar of expectations too high can only cause pressure to build and frustrations to take over when you do underperform. Rather than obsessing on the score, focus more on the process.

Inevitably even a professional golfer will have a bad game. This is where a “go-to shot” can come in handy. This is a shot that you can rely on to get you desirable accuracy and distance. For some, the go-to shot might be a 5-iron they can play and for others, maybe it’s an 8-iron. Whatever you choose, this shot will help build your confidence when you get off track.

A bad shot can easily distract you and get inside your head. While you move on to the next hole, talk about something other than the last round to help you stay relaxed and focused. Don’t over analyze holes you have already played or shots you wish you could do over. Talking about something unrelated will help keep your mind occupied and keep you grounded until you are ready to take your next shot. The key here is distraction.

Visualize yourself playing each hole well as you walk around the course. Imagine what it feels like to hit the ball off the tee and getting it close to the green. This mental activity feeds your subconscious and can actually condition you to succeed while playing.

Learning the mental side of golf and working with a personal coach to customize a plan are both powerful ways to help improve your game.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

About Me

Oakville’s Zachary Creed (Zack Creed) has played and worked at some of the best golf courses in the United States. As a seasonal employee over the course of 10 years, he has spent time with some of the best courses in Florida specifically, including The Polo Club in Boca Raton, Jupiter Hills, and Old Palm Golf.

While studying Professional Golf Management (PGM) and recreation management at The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), Zack Creed was named 2009 Player of the Year. He improved his skills during PGA internships at La Costa Resort (Carlsbad, CA), Grayhawk Golf Club (Scottsdale, AZ), N.J. National Golf Club (Somerset, NJ) and Crooked Stick Golf Club (Carmel, IN).

Zack worked as an Assistant Golf Professional at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel from 2009 to 2012. A highlight of his tenure there was serving as a Tournament Liaison for the U.S. Senior Open Championship in 2011 and for the 2012 BMW Fedex playoffs. He also worked at The Hawthorns Golf & Country Club in Fishers, IN, from 2012 to 2013, assuming the duties and responsibilities of the Director/Head Pro for four months.

Zack qualified for and played in the 2012 and 2013 Indiana Open tournaments. The following year, in 2014, Zack was a finalist for Indiana Professional of the Year while working as co-first assistant professional at Highland Golf & Country Club in Indianapolis from 2014-15.

Branching out from the playing and teaching sides of golf, Zack Creed moved on to selling and marketing new golf products to the U.S. market with Midas Event Supply (MES) in Ontario, California, from 2015-2017, where he served as a trade show representative to Club Managers. He was also in charge of evaluating the MES expansion into the Canadian market.

Zack Creed has also volunteered at numerous PGA tournaments throughout his career, including four times at Par For The Cure, which raises funds for breast cancer research. He also enjoyed organizing an Advanced Junior Golf Program for aspiring professionals, and college and high school standouts. A major perk of that position at Crooked Stick involved playing rounds with celebrities, sports stars and politicians.