A few weeks back I had a powerful, game-changing experience on the golf course that translates perfectly from golf to sales and sales management.
Those who follow me on Instagram have enjoyed (or poked fun at) my relatively new passion for golf and my desire (struggle) to take my game to a new level. It’s been an absolute blast having an active hobby, and honestly, golf has been a gift and mental/emotional health booster this past crazy year.
Even more than being a hobby and effective distraction from the pandemic and politics, golf provided a unique opportunity to deepen a friendship and receive world-class coaching. You see, I have an unfair advantage when it comes to improving my golf game because of a man named Brian Fogt. Brian and I are friends from attending the same church and he also happens to be the #1 golf instructor in Missouri, the director of instruction at the prestigious Bellerive Country Club – recent host of the PGA Championship, and he’s qualified for four US Opens.
I hadn’t taken a lesson in months; my game was plateauing, and I knew it was time to see Brian. Amazingly, he had some freedom late on a Saturday afternoon and instead of doing a session at the practice range or in his video studio, we headed out to my club to play nine holes together. And the mind-blowing experience of playing with my coach is why I’m writing this piece.
Sales leaders, there were four very specific things that Brian did with me (and for me) that ALL of us can and should be doing with our people.
We met on the range to warm up and talk about the objectives for our round. Brian helped get me mentally focused. He had me watch him execute a few practice shots. And because I shared a concern that my putter was too light, he spent a few minutes adding gobs of lead tape to it so I could see what it felt like putting with more weight in the head.
As great as it was to have a world-class coach ready to give me instruction or whisper a suggestion before a shot, it was equally as powerful just hearing Brian describe how we would approach a hole and watching him “manage” the course and execute shots.
Brian’s swing coaching is uber-simple. One of my favorite things about his teaching is that he never overloads my feeble mind with too many thoughts or has me working on too many things at one time. And on the course, he avoided talking about my “swing” at all, but instead picked just a few times to talk me through how to approach a challenging shot.
The first time he did this was on hole number five, a short par-three. I hit my tee shot thin and it went 25 yards over the green with the ball stopping just short of a hazard in deep rough. Brian sensed my frustration and came over to review the scary next shot with me. I needed to pitch the ball high and soft to land on downhill slope and if I overcooked it even a touch, the ball would end up in the water on the other side of the green. He helped me select the right wedge and with great confidence pointed to the exact spot on the near-side fringe where he wanted me to land the ball. He firmly said, “Execute the shot and land the ball right here. You got this, Mike.” I did exactly as he asked and executed one of the most beautiful tough wedge shots of my life.
Brian then helped me read the 10-foot putt and when I asked if I should aim a ball or two left of the hole, he looked at me and said with confidence, “Aim a half-ball left. Roll it so half of the ball is outside the left edge of the cup.” I chuckled and retorted that I’m not a surgeon with the putter. He repeated, “Just a half-ball outside the hole. Roll it in.” And, you guessed it, I did exactly as coached and rolled it in!
It’s hard to put into words what his coaching on that hole did for me. It’s more than the fact that he basically coached and talked me into parring a hole where without him there I was likely headed for bogey, double-bogey, or worse. It was the combination of his teaching me how to recover after a bad shot, how to focus, and how to narrow my aim while raising my expectations that is paying lasting dividends.
4. Debrief and Envision
After golf we went out for a burger. Brian pulled out the scorecard and we debriefed my round. He specifically pointed out some of my best shots of the day. He mentioned how much better I was doing “holding off” and keeping my hands ahead of club head. We celebrated that amazing recovery and par on the fifth hole, and we talked through one of my meltdowns where I put up a “snowman” (8) on a par four.
And then Brian did something that I’ll never forget. He took the scorecard and wrote the word REALISTIC in all caps. And below that, for each hole he wrote in what he believed I could (and will) score on each hole in the future. He told me that in a very short time I’ll be shooting in the low-80’s instead of 90 and that I was close to having a breakthrough.
The very next day, I was back at my club playing 18 holes with some friends. I had a totally different attitude approaching the course and much higher expectations and confidence after Brian envisioning me about the golfer I was becoming the prior evening. I birdied the first hole and went on to shoot an 85 from the black tees, blowing away my previous best round by four strokes!
Do you think it is coincidence this happened after spending a few hours with my coach? Neither do I. And a week later I went out and parred the first five holes. I was even par standing on the sixth tee and couldn’t stop thinking about how much Brian’s coaching impacted my game.
Sales leaders, get with your people. I never thought I’d be writing a post for sales managers based on a golf lesson, but if you go back and look at how Brian prepared, modeled, coached, debriefed and envisioned me, there are a lot of takeaways for us as leaders and coaches!
And while I’m on the topic of sales leadership, let me provide a quick and exciting update on our upcoming Supercharge Your Sales Leadership elite events because there has been an amazing response just this past week:
- The Dallas event August 31 at The Four Seasons Resort and Golf Club has only 12 (of the 50 total) spots remaining – and of those 12 available tickets, 5 also have availability for the golf experience package on Day 2 at the TPC course
- There are only 14 seats left for the Chicago event at the Wrigley Field Cubs Conference Center on September 23rd. However, the VIP package is SOLD OUT.
- The Atlanta event at The Porsche Experience Center on October 12th has 15 of the 50 spots open for the full-day sales leadership workshop but the VIP package is SOLD OUT.
Don’t miss this opportunity to radically increase your sales management effectiveness! Click any of the links above for more info on the premium venues, packed agendas, powerful takeaways, and to see the reaction from sales leaders who have attended these elite events in the past. And if you have an interest in attending with a group from the same company, contact us for special packages and pricing.