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Jordan Spieth – An Object Lesson for Entrepreneurs

08/02/2017



Golf enthusiasts and casual fans alike agree that Jordan Spieth’s play on the 13th hole during the final round of The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale proved nothing short of miraculous. The enthusiast admires the application of the sometimes-arcane rules of the game of golf, and casual fans and most significantly, entrepreneurs, see many lessons.

To set the stage, The Open represents one of golf’s four grand slam events where a victory ensures the winner a place in golf immortality. Spieth entered the 2017 Open at age 23, a remarkably young age. As Spieth started play on number 13, he found himself tied for the lead with his playing partner, Matt Kuchar.
 
Spieth’s drive on 13 sliced to the right and landed 127 yards off line and on the back side of one of Royal Birkdale’s tallest, scraggly long-grass-covered dunes. Spieth, the television announcers and nearly everyone watching the event believed Spieth lost The Open on that one, errant shot. By the time Spieth found his ball, he realized he could not take a swing at the ball. At this point, most players would apply the “unplayable lie” rule that let the golfer go back to the tee box and hit another drive, which would count as their third shot. However, with a clear mastery of the rules, Spieth applied a different rule that let him draw an imaginary “line” from the flag through the point of his ball, then as far back as necessary. This allowed Spieth to incur only a one stroke penalty.
 
Amazingly, this line allowed Spieth to place his ball on the Royal Birkdale flat, green-grass covered practice range, which remained “in bounds,” but also 75 yards further back from his original spot. However, it also placed the golf equipment manufacture’s trucks, a staple at all major tournaments, in his line of sight. Here, Spieth then applied the “immovable object” rule that gave him the option to drop his ball one club length from that imaginary line without penalty. This placement still left Spieth with a blind shot to the green, so he asked his caddy to climb back up the sand dune and provide a “line of sight” marker to the green. Right before Spieth took his shot with his caddy 75 yards away providing a line of sight, Spieth informed his caddy that he could not stand on the dune while Spieth took his shot. If his caddy stayed on the dune and in Spieth’s line, Spieth would incur a two-stroke penalty.
 
Thirty minutes after Spieth took his first tee shot on 13th, Spieth took his second shot – a very long time by golf standards. Ironically, on the previous hole, the tournament officials had asked Spieth and Kuchar to speed up their play. Spieth hit a great second shot that left him in a position to finish the hole with a five, one over par and, now, one stroke behind the leader, Kuchar. In extraordinary fashion, Spieth went on to play the last five holes of the tournament at five under par and he won The Open by three strokes over Kuchar. By every measure, Spieth’s performance on the last six holes on the final day at the 2017 Open Championship will go down in golf lore as one of the greatest performances of all time.
 
So, what can entrepreneurs learn from Spieth’s performance? I see six lessons that every entrepreneur should take to heart.
 
Lesson No. 1: Be Resourceful
 
Spieth found quick and clever ways to overcome his difficulties. Entrepreneurs who start businesses face similar difficulties every day. Stay resourceful and never give up finding ways to overcome challenges.
 
Lesson No. 2: Keep Your Composure
 
Spieth stayed calm and in control in the face of extraordinary circumstances. And most remarkably, he did so at age 23! As an entrepreneur, maintain focus at all times and stay calm; doing so will help the entrepreneur captain the ship through any storm. Leaders remain under the watchful eye of those they lead – staying clam keeps the team calm and focused as well.
 
Lesson No. 3: Be Adaptable  
 
With the application of each rule of golf, Spieth had to adjust to new conditions. For entrepreneurs, change and adaptability represents a fact of everyday life. Face changing conditions as opportunities, not points of frustration.
 
Lesson No. 4: Persevere
 
Winston Churchill famously said, “We shall never surrender.” Never, ever give up in the face of difficulty or with little chance of success. Spieth persevered with a major championship on the line where many others would have accepted their fate, taken the easier way out, and, likely, lost the tournament.
 
Lesson No. 5: Use your team!
 
Spieth made effective use of his caddy, who he thanked personally during his post-tournament remarks, and he used the tournament officials during his play on 13th to make certain he interpreted all rules correctly. Entrepreneurs should hire a great people and use them!
 
Lesson No. 6: Create Momentum
 
Build momentum and “catch the wave.” There exists little doubt in my mind that Spieth’s masterful play on 13 created momentum that enabled him to play the next five holes in remarkable fashion. I’m convinced that if Spieth took the easier path on the 13th hole he would not have built momentum and “rode” his wave to victory. For entrepreneurs, build momentum, then ride it as long as possible.
 
Never in my life did I believe a golf tournament would yield so much invaluable advice for entrepreneurs. And as a golf and entrepreneurialism enthusiast, I have now added all major tournaments to my list of continuing education activities.
 
To relive this great moment in golf history, watch this YouTube video on Spieth’s play on the Thirteenth hole at Royal Birkdale.



About The Author
Larry Hall
Managing Director
Trillium Services Group, LLC


Larry Hall is the Managing Director at Trillium Services Group, LLC and a regular contributor to Hospitality Upgrade. He can be reached at LWH@msn.com

 
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