Case Study: Results-based Development in Chris’ Golf Game

NOTE: This landing page is the most recent blog post. For background on Measure of Success, visit: OUR APPROACH

What follows here is a real-time description of applying results-based consulting to developing my golf game. Following the “Initial Post” are periodic updates and reflections.

Sept. 6, 2014 – Initial Post

I decided to take my own medicine and approach an area of personal development in this same results-based manner. I will be the “client” in this exchange and Mark Linton, head of instruction at Weston Golf Club, will be the “consultant.” With his permission, I will document our shared success.

This arrangement is based on the model outlined in “Our Approach”:

1. Overall direction:

For this, I am focussing on scoring better in competitive golf. This very likely fits with “play better golf” or “play closer to my potential.” Any of those definitions are indeed, in my opinion, close enough.

2. Aspirational goal:

I have shared this with Mark, but I will not divulge the details of it here. It is important that Mark know what I am shooting for and the relevant deadlines. We agreed that it is difficult, yet attainable, under the right conditions. There is a monetary incentive for Mark should I attain this goal. (I won’t disclose those details either.)

3. Means-to-an-end goal:

If you are not familiar with golf, here is a brief description of the “handicap” system that is widely used with amateur golfers. To oversimplify, your handicap gives you an adjustment to your score (adding or subtracting) to make for an “even game” when playing with someone of differing ability. The idea being that if two golfers of differing ability both play a usual game, a head-to-head contest will be competitive.

I am currently a 5 handicap. I think that if I can get my handicap down to a 2, my aspirational goal will be reachable. Mark has expertise in this context, and is comfortable with being, to an extent, “on the hook” for my development toward those goals. So far, we have been able to establish a “shared goal.” As an experiential comment, I am quite enjoying the confirmation that this set of goals is reachable and that I have an interested party to teach, coach and support. I am sure there is plenty of work to do, so I will have to keep this initial euphoria in mind when the going gets tough.

Periodic Updates and Reflections (reverse chronological order)

Oct 9, 2014

The work that I have done with Mark has got me focussing on specific areas of my game. This is where he is exercising his expertise to guide me in the right direction. I am really enjoying the shared responsibility because I almost feel that it is his job to figure this out for me. Not to bore you with specifics, but short game (close to the green) is an important element to scoring. When I have played recently, even not scoring that well, I have found solace in the fact that my chipping has improved. Knowing where to look to find indications of improvement is important in maintaining hope and not being disheartened or overwhelmed by the task at hand.

Oct 1, 2014

Probably riding the positivity that came from the confirmation that my goals are achievable, I was pretty quick to tell people what I was doing and what I was trying to accomplish. There is a certain vulnerability with revealing your intentions to people. Now that everyone knows that I am trying to get my handicap down, it will be embarrassing when it does not seem to be tracking in that direction. (This was the case this past week!)

Sept 19, 2014

Simply because the set up is different, I find myself sharing more information with Mark than I would normally have done. Maybe to convey that I was holding up my side of the bargain, I relayed how much I practiced, how it went, what was working and not working. This was quite different from the episodic relationship that I have had with golf pros in the past. I could certainly envision establishing a flow for this information with clients with whom I will be working.

Sept 12, 2014

Getting confirmation from Mark that my goals were achievable felt very good. There was an initial surge, which actually surprised me. I started thinking that because the journey had started, reaching the destination was an eventuality. When I played nine holes with my kids, I found that I was taking it more seriously, and was very disappointed with a score that previously would have been so-so. I found myself thinking that I should be operating at a new level.