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Tiger Woods’ Guide to Project Management

You’ve just found out that you are playing in a big golf competition this morning. Your tee time is at 9:50. It’s already 9:15. You jump in the car and put the pedal to the metal! You only slow down to put your golf shoes on at the red traffic lights.

You arrive at the golf course at 9:45. Sweating and stressed already. You abandon the car, grab your clubs and make a dash for the first tee. Lucky for you, the world and its mother are waiting at the first tee and you hear…

“Next on the tee, playing out of Dublin Zoo Golf Club, Ger Raffe.”

You step up to the tee, still panting after your 200m sprint from the car. You have flashbacks to any golf related memory…Where’s Bagger Vance when I need him? You just swing with all your might…

WHACK!!! No preparation, no fundamentals, no coordination, no focus.

Result: The ball finishes just past the ladies tee box… Disaster!

Do you think this is how Tiger Woods would prepare for a game of golf? A good game of golf and a well run Project have 4 key traits in common.

“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. Running to the tee box or meeting unprepared is just not the way to start the project.

Not familiarizing yourself with the potential problems one the first hole, before you tee off, is madness. You must at least understand the background, objectives and the constraints.This is also your chance to make a first impression on your group and knocking it 30 yards in front of the ladies tee box is not going to instill confidence.

Square those shoulders, neutral grip, keep that head down and swing smoothly. Forget the Fundamentals of Project Management, and you’ve no chance.

Ensure good communication between body parts, (stakeholders) and the club (clients). If your hands are not in sync with your body, the end result is unlikely to be pretty. Co-ordination and communication between every part is key.

Focus on a single end goal, whether its breaking 80 when playing golf or delivering all the requirements on time or within budget, there must be complete buy in from everyone involved. Do not get bogged down on a single obstacle.

The Project Manager must understand the end goal is to deliver what is expected, within the budget/schedule and to ultimately please the customer. While getting off to a good start is important (in golf and project management), the game has only just begun. People will ultimately judge your round/project on the final outcome.

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  • Anonymous

    Great title! Well timed too with yesterday’s announcement about his return.As someone how has sliced his drive into the club house bar, I understand the importance of arriving to the golf course stressed out and in a rush. Not good in Golf, not good in business. So great advice. Maybe could sell Tiger’s wife an amended version of your great product-

  • MyHusbandTracker – excellent!

  • Hi Eoin,
    Great post on a hot topic of the day!
    I don’t know much about golf, but arriving sweating and stressed to any business potential is recipe for failure – thanks for great tips 🙂

  • Brilliant analogy, especially since Tiger Woods is known to put so much thought and preparation into EVERY shot in every game, including his practice ones. Love the MyHusbandTracker – Greg.

  • Hey Eoin, good to see you on here 🙂 I love the TW angle. I think that ensure good communication is a key point and should be factored in the planning stage. Thanks for sharing, Niall

  • Anonymous


    Preparation is an underrated tool! Sure you can tap dance a few times but it catches up with you and then you look incompetent or even stupid. Ugh! Trying to do business with the most primitive part of your brain is bound to end badly. Your tips are terrific and love the analogy!

  • Anonymous

    What a great way to tie in Spring to project management. We are all excited to get out to the golf course and play a few rounds. And it’s true, one must prepare for and focus on anything that could impact the overall outcome, whether it be a golf game or planning a project to be successful. Good post.

  • I always told Golf and Businessmen are inseparable. 🙂 Interesting concept. Being unprepared is the worst case scenario. Good point on the co-ordination. To be in sync with both mind and action is quite challenging but the results can be encouraging.

    Nice descriptions now I wonder if it’s a good idea to actually try out that sport. I’m always more of a basketball, table tennis lover (oh, tennis would be great too!). I really need to pay more attention to exercise.

    Social/Blogging Tracker

  • Thanks guys for all you comments.

    This was actually how I used to approach a game of golf and sometimes even work. A few years ago I started visiting Martin Toner, a Golf Pro and Certified Golf Psychologist. He improved by game by up to 10 shots by just focusing on how I prepare. We were chatting one day and he explained how he gave similar seminars at a corporate level and explained how his methods can be applied to many different parts of your life, including business. Since that day I’ve simply been a lot more organized and I’ve definitely been playing better golf.


  • Well, it was only a matter of time before seeing a post about Tiger Woods the Project Manager. For another light perspective on Project Management, check this article: Project management 101.

  • Preparation and focus are probably two your most important points here. I find that without proper preparation, focus becomes close to impossible. Thanks for an enlightening article.

  • Talk about timing Pawel! I was at an event today, the main point of it was to get us to sign up before leaving.  I knew this going and went with the idea of just seeing what was on offer and coming away to think about it first.  I watched the Sales Director in action and he did a great job of reeling a few of us in, asking for the sale, etc using all of the above. For those who didn’t have any intention of buying, he accepted that with a cheerful grin. However when a few people aired objections he asked outright, what it was they were afraid of and met each fear head on and then went on to close close the sale, with each person delighted with the decision they’d made. It was a delight to see the process in action and one I’ll be putting to very good use in the future.

  • I’d never thought about it that way, but it makes sense. Fear holds us back in so many ways, and it makes sense in relation to commercial sales, in the open market. 
    In relation to selling to non-profit organisations, such as Government bodies, sometimes there are other factors at play.
    Thanks Pawel, some food for thought for me there.
    ~ Helen

  • Thanks Niall, yeah, it all comes down to selling peace of mind.

  • Hi Helen, many thanks for that (and glad to be of help 🙂
    I agree, my advice relates mainly to B2B sales. Selling to NGO’s, govt organizations etc. works in a slightly different way.
    Many thanks for the comment

  • Mairead, that’s an amazing story, a true sales professionalism. Brilliant. Best of luck with implementing it, I am sure it will work well for you 🙂

  • warrenrutherford

    Pawel – this is good guidance for all of us to follow.  It’s straight-forward, well explained, and emphasizes establishing and maintaining credibility.  Thanks.

  • Thanks Warren 🙂

  • A great article Pawel, and great simple pointers.
    All business owners I work with, know the importance and benefit of marketing, some do better than others. Many, however, do not “sell” themselves well.

    And I would add, because of the nature of one of the areas I work in, Coaching, the fear begins with the business owner. Feelings aside, if one goes to a meeting with a client, and is afraid (their own stuff) how on earth could that instill confidence in the potential client?

    Confidence instills confidence, and if we can learn what our customers need, provide the solution with absolute confidence, follow it up (TOP notch customer service as you mention) and get paid, then we are all successful. And we maintain our credibility and good standing 🙂

  • Brilliant point about confidence Elaine, thanks! We surely send signals to prospects, through everything from our behavior to our work. 

    Great comment!

  • This is consistent with recent brain research – see for example David Rock’s “Your Brain at Work”. The brain “runs away and walks toward.” That means our genetic background makes us flee from (fear) danger much more than approach reward. But missing from your list is the value of controlled interpersonal interaction. Showing genuine concern for the prospect, asking them what is important to them, providing reflective listening, subtly mirroring behavior, understanding personality type, and other interpersonal skills can be powerful tools for reducing fear and increasing trust. Very stimulating post overall, and thank you for the thought-provoking “single point.”

  • Thanks Buck, and cheers for recommending “Your Brain At Work”, on my list of books to check out 🙂 

  • Anton, many thanks! I am delighted that I could help 🙂

  • John, a brilliant point here. 

    Many small business owners have absolutely no idea how their companies are performing, how much money they have, how much they can expect in the future, what’s the overall performance of the team and its members and so on. And, it works quite well for them but only until something happens and they run into trouble. With clever performance tracking you can foresee and avoid quite a lot of potential problems (not to mention that to actually know how your business is “doing” too). 
    Well done. 

  • Thanks Pawel.

    It is at times very scary to consider what the process of tracking is with some companies. The balance sheet may say one thing but the upcoming downfall will never be seen, so they start to lose and they will never know where or even when it can be turned around. 

  • warrenrutherford

    John – in agreement here with Pawel and Sian. My effort with clients is to establish simple business plan, with measurable goals, strategies, action items, etc. You are each right of the challenge to get an owner to focus and implement.  Great post on how the sales end of the metrics get tracked.

  • Thank you Warren! It’s an incredibly common sight within companies where the employees are not motivated and productivity begins to slow, even though targets may stress some people out they will all feel a satisfaction once completed or even drive harder to accomplish further goals. Can never say it enough but metrics need to be track.

  • Ruan

    1 hour 14 mins for a 2 mile jog?? I’m guessing you’re not a Kenyan..

  • A great investor told me yesterday – you need metrics!!! Measure, measure, measure – and this was from an Investor AND and Entrepreneurial point of view. And then I read your post John, and it just amplifies the need to look at the figures, adn not just look at them, but make sense of them!
    As most biz owners hate accounts and number crunching, they generally leave it up to their finance team or accountant – or worse still, the end of year accounts. 
    As my investor friend said – ” a perfect way to go broke”
    Great post John, thanks.

  • I find it impossible to raise my rates, but thanks to your post, it’ll be more possible.

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