The New Team Sport – Golf?

Presidents Cup Team
Oct. 07, 2017 - Nancy

Who knew we could learn so much about teams by closely observing an individual sport?

As an Executive Coach, Life Coach and avid golfer, I watched the PGA Tour this year with great interest, not only for the amazing golf each week, but for the insight gained about the unique power of teams.  Golf has historically been the classic individual sport requiring complete self- confidence and self-belief as well as a steely competitive edge that often came across as polite, yet intimidating or indifferent to fellow competitors.

Over the last few years a new breed of PGA Tour Professionals has emerged and they have adopted a distinctly different approach to their work and their plan to succeed and win!  It is completely team based.  Throughout this past season, we routinely heard young PGA Tour players speaking from the perspective of their team (caddie, business manager, sport psychologist, physical therapist…).  You heard “we and our” not “I and mine”.  Jordan Spieth is certainly one of the best examples of this as you listen to his post-round interviews and may deserve the credit for this shift in culture.

Phil Mickleson, the senior veteran of the US Presidents Cup team, acknowledged this shift during an interview after The Presidents Cup. He noted this has been heavily influenced by the influx of the “20 somethings” who have demonstrated the ability to be fiercely competitive, yet genuinely interested in each other’s success.  Phil stated it has taken him decades to acquire this ability, and he believes this brings about a very special energy and dynamic to the team room.

It is quite common in America to work hard, be competitive and seek individual success.  From the local fast food restaurant to the corporate board room, most of us in the U.S. workforce function in teams everyday.  Sometimes our teams perform well – many times, not so well.   So it occurs to me that if one wants to boost his or her individual performance they may be wise to examine how well they function on teams.