Another week-end and another golf tournament. This time, the US Women’s Open was won by 19 year-old second-year pro, Inbee Park from South Korea, who 10 years ago gripped her first golf club after witnessing her countrywoman, Se Ri Park win the same tournament (ESPN). The achievements of the South Korean contingent (20 of the top 74 players who made the cut) is another story in and of itself. That nation has managed to find a way to create a talent pool that is both deep and young. Their fundamentals are solid. They are all excellent ball strikers, and many of them are have ice in their veins in the heat of the tournament.
I was watching another sporting event, the Chicago White Sox battling the Chicago Cubs on FOX. With Fukudome in the batter’s box, the commentator mentioned how similar Ichiro, Fukudome, and Matsui were in their weight being thrust forward after the swing, as if to get that first step to first base. Many managers complement players from Japan as having discipline at the plate, good at playing small ball, with high baseball IQ, and playing fundamentally “sound” baseball.
I once managed a golf course, and the golf pro there told me, “the key to teaching kids how to play golf is to make them learn to hit the ball far.” He said that distance is tough to teach, but accuracy can always be taught later. He also showed me the difference of how pros teach in Japan and in the US. In Japan, they tell people what mistakes they are making, and tell them how to correct them. This is no good, that is no good… In the US, he says, they teach people to build on their strengths, because everyone will make mistakes anyway. They just highlight the fatal ones, and let them go and have fun.
In an interview this past week (LA Times), Jack Nicklaus said, “Knowing Yourself and playing within your limits,” is the most important lesson in golf. It is not about imitating Tiger Woods’ swing or to try to build a swing that your body could never handle. Instead of searching for perfection, it is more about searching for one’s own game.
When I teach my students at the Drucker School on how to do presentations, I tell them to find their own comfort zone. Although it will be nice to be articulate like Barack Obama or Bill Clinton, few people in the world have the talent of those two. Of course there are tricks of the trade that would remove the obvious fatal flaws.
Nicklaus spoke of his teacher, Jack Grout, “He taught me a lot more about me than about golf.”
What a great lesson in golf, in leadership, in corporate training, and of course, in life.