It’s Foodie Friday and even though it’s November, it’s also Masters weekend. For any golf fan, The Masters Tournament is one of the highlights of the year and since we had to wait an additional 7 months for it this year, it’s even more special. While it’s always been a harbinger of Spring and the golf season to come, this year it’s wrapping up the year and it’s very different. No azaleas, no patrons (fans, to you), and, I’m told, none of the food that makes the Masters experience so unique.
If you’ve never been, this event is unique for many reasons. The biggest unique thing is that it is exceptionally fan-friendly when it comes to food. You see, the folks who put this tournament on are really not all that interested in making a ton of money off of their patrons. Unlike, say, the US Open Tennis, where a sandwich will set you back close to $20, a sandwich here costs $1.50. Not a typo, and the egg salad and the pimento cheese sandwiches are the stuff of legend. The sausage biscuit you’d pay $4 at Bojangles is also $1.50.
Ask any fan who has attended the tournament and I’m willing to bet you that they’ll mention the food, maybe even before they talk about the golf. A Georgia Peach Ice Cream Sandwich ($2) is so good that folks have been known to smuggle dry ice onto the grounds to take several home with them.
What makes the food so good? Well, first, it’s very simple. No fancy burgers. The most expensive food item is the $4 Bar-B-Que (that’s how it’s listed) sandwich. It’s not great barbecue but it’s still pretty tasty. Egg salad, pimento cheese, turkey clubs, and a chicken sandwich – all very basic. You could make everything they serve at home quite easily. The difference is it’s all really good, and because it doesn’t cost a month’s rent, I think whatever small shortcomings there might be are overlooked. You can buy the entire menu for the price of the fancy burgers sold at many places and several beers here for the price of one at any stadium. It’s simple and it’s great.
It’s a good lesson for any of us in business. Consumers are looking for great value (Walmart’s house brand is called that for a reason!) and when the product is not only a decent price but also is really good, you’ve got a winner. This food solves the “I’m hungry” problem exceptionally well. We all need to identify the problem we’re solving and do so better than anyone else. If we can do it at a great price, it’s game over.
I’ll make pimento cheese to watch the tournament and maybe some egg salad too. It’s won’t be the same as being in Augusta and maybe not as good (food always tastes better at the game, don’t you think?). It will remind me that The Masters is my favorite golf tournament for more reasons than the golf. How can you have your customers thinking that way about you?
Another major championship in golf, another screed about a business lesson learned from watching that championship transpire. Sergio Garcia, a Spanish golfer with a nearly 20-year history of frustration and failure in major championships, won The Masters yesterday. What’s surprising about the win is that it took him so long. He’s won 21 times around the world and has been a fearsome force on European Ryder Cup teams for a long time.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
His skill was never in doubt, and yet five years ago at this very tournament, he stated that he didn’t have what it takes to win major championships. What happened and what can we learn and apply to our own endeavors?
Major championship golf is often described as “an examination,” testing both one’s game and one’s character. Sergio has always had the game but what he lacked was the character to deal with the adversity one faces along the way in any major. That’s why he gave exactly the right answer when he was asked yesterday what he liked best about how he won: “the demonstration of character.” Like every champion, he hit some awful shots. This time, however, he stayed calm, stayed positive, made a plan, and let life go on.
The lessons for any of us are clear. Skill and competence can take us a long way but to break through to another level we need the right attitude. We need to develop that maturity and character to deal with setbacks, both self-imposed (hitting a bad shot) and external (a competitor hits a great shot). Control what we can, deal with mistakes (we all make them), and remember that someone else doing well doesn’t mean that you’re doing badly. It might just mean that you have to change your plan and do better to get ahead.
Sorry if I’m becoming predictable in writing about golf after a big tournament, but what Sergio’s win said to me about all of us and business thinking was something I felt I had to share. He had already mastered the game years ago; yesterday he mastered himself. You agree?
The things we learn from golf! I know, I’ve written about that before, but yesterday’s conclusion to The Masters provided such a great example as to why the lesson of the golf course apply to the world of business.
I’m talking, of course, about Phil Mickelson‘s decision-making on number 4. For those of you who didn’t see or haven’t heard about it, Phil was at the top of the leader-board when he hit an errant shot on a par 3. His error was compounded by the fact that it hit a grandstand and bounced further away from the hole. In fact, it wound up in some thick brush. This piece provides a good overview. For you non-golfers, when your ball winds up in a place like this, you can do one of four things: Play the ball as it is or take a penalty stroke and use one of three options under the “unplayable lie” rule. In Phil’s case, two of the three options weren’t available to him – it’s too long an explanation for this space – but the third one – replay the last shot from the previous spot certainly was. That would have been back on the tee, hitting your third shot (on a par 3) into the green.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Phil elected to play the ball as it was and ended up making 6, and given where his ball was that was about as good a score as he could have expected. His decision-making process is a great business example. Phil elected not to cut his losses (take the penalty and start over) and I think it cost him the golf tournament. This is the same guy who lost the U.S. Open a few years ago making exactly the same decision – try to hit an impossible shot instead of cutting your losses. Obviously he won The Masters a couple of year back trying and making a difficult shot onto a par 5 from the trees (no, golf is not played in the woods – some of us just go there a lot). In some ways, that just reinforced what is generally not the best course of action.
None of us like to admit that we need to take the hit and start over. Most of us talk about “throwing good money after bad” as a negative. The hard part is stepping back and assessing the situation without emotional involvement about all you’ve invested so far. You need to build in decision points and discuss where you are with others and adjust the plan. The caddy is out on the course not just to lug the golf bag and whether it’s in-house staff of consultants like me, someone needs to help make the decision to take the unplayable and live to fight another day.
What do you think? How do you know when it’s time to go back to the tee or when trying to stick it out is the best course of action?