If You Want To Improve Your Leadership Skills---Spend A Day Caddying

Posted by Duane Cummings on 04/07/2016

 

Yes, today was the start of The Masters Golf Tournament, and since I didn’t qualify to play, I did the next best thing…I caddied. Now don’t get too excited, I never made it to Augusta. Instead, I was in Oakwood, Georgia where I made my way around Chicopee Woods Golf Course, minding the bag for Rocky Shipes as he began chasing his dream of playing on the Senior PGA Champions Tour. He’s been waiting a long time, but thanks to his recent fiftieth birthday, he’s finally qualified to compete on that tour.

Many people know Rocky as a Long Drive competitor. He also happens to be the Founder of RockStar Golf, which is a company that helps non-profits raise money via his trick shot shows. But today, Rocky was competing in the Mitsubishi Electric Classic Pre-Qualifier, in hopes of getting into the event by the same name held next week at the TPC Sugarloaf, which is right down the road from his home.

Having known Rocky for years, it’s been exciting to be around him as this moment approached. I’ve always loved to compete, and thoroughly enjoy watching others put themselves on the line, regardless of the sport. So as you could imagine, I was beside myself and incredibly honored to receive his text asking me to caddie, and I jumped at the opportunity. Little did I know how much time I’d spend during the day, thinking about all of the leadership lessons that caddies need to know and apply in order to do their job well. During the eighteen holes, I made note of fourteen unique lessons, but the three listed below are the ones that were on my mind the entire time.

  • #1 – Clear and Concise Communication. Just like in your personal or professional life, it’s almost impossible to have success if you don’t communicate well. And on the course, a players’ non-verbal and internal communication is just as important as what's being said. Although I didn’t swing a club, it was obvious that what I said and how I said it could make a difference in the outcome. So, just like a leader, caddies must provide clear and concise communication if they want their golfer to succeed.
  • #2 – Awareness. From the outside, the game of golf (especially when played well) may seem like a simple stroll with occasional interruptions, but there’s a lot more going on during a round than one might think. A great caddy (just like a great leader) must have a high level of awareness and keep their head on a swivel. They are constantly assessing a long list of variables that can have an impact on each shot (wind, lie, distance, etc.) as well being mindful of the activities of all the other players and caddies in the group. If a caddy is really good, they will also monitor additional items like their player’s attitude, energy level, and mindset. It’s a lot to handle, and candidly when the day was over I was over stimulated and mentally exhausted…which is how leaders often feel when they focus on being aware. 
  • #3 – Trust. In my opinion, to be a great leader you must earn the trust of others. The same goes for a caddy. Throughout golfing history, the players who’ve had success at the highest levels have all had total trust in their caddy and the information they provide. To go low, golfers must trust their swings, and to me trust is the foundation that everything should be built on in golf, business, and life.

My overall believe is great leaders have a servant mentality, and being a caddy is a perfect way to express that trait. It can be difficult, because the caddy is in the middle of the challenge, but the golfer is the one who must produce the results. Which is no different than being a leader and having other people who are responsible for results. So as I said to begin with, if you’re looking to improve your leadership skills, spend a day as a caddy...and as always, I wish you #aSensationalLife.

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Duane Cummings