ReBoot – Golf and Big Data

A CIO's VoiceI am a horrible golfer. I am first to admit it. I struggle with having a complete game. There are days when my long game is on point and others when my short game and putting is phenomenal. It is rare that both are working together. I struggle with it because I want to improve. Like anything in life, if I was good at it from the start what fun will be that be? Maybe it is my weird sense of what fun is.

A new virtual golf business opened not too far from my home. Great little joint and the simulators help work on your game during the brutal winter months when that Polar Vertex is hovering over us.

I started to think about the simulator and the amount of data it was using to alow us to play a round of golf. Can Big Data be used to improve a golfer? Or allow a professional golfer to win more tournaments?

Here is a hypothetical – say you are able to capture the following data:

  • Day of the year
  • Time
  •  Weather information (wind, humidity, etc)
  • Course information (distance, markers, green info, etc, etc)

The above information is readily available on most golf GPSs. And clearly most golf simulators are able to capture a lot of data such as swing speed, club head angle, etc.

Now if we add the following information player specific dat

  • Handicap
  • Average # of shots played previously on that course
  • Distance made with specific clubs for that course
  • Ball type
  • How the player is playing the day of (soft data point)

Can this information be loaded into a database and be crunched and then sent to an iPad or other device to allow a player to know what club he should/or should not use and how to hit?

All this rests on if a player is able to duplicate his swing repeatedly. For most amateurs that is impossible. But I think a professional golfer can easily do that.

There is definitely a place for this type of information in this sport. 

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ReBoot-What is the Sense of Golf…

A CIO's VoiceThis season, as short as it was with rain and the early snow in New York, I made an effort to become better at golf. I tried and tried to get my handicap from 25 to around 20. It does not sound like it would be that hard but it was. It was a goal I did not achieve. It was difficult.

Much to my wife’s dismay, I am a weekend golfer-actually a Saturday morning golfer. I play with a group of guys of varying handicaps and ages. We all struggle to form a complete game. There are some days when our game is on point and others when we can’t get the ball off the tee box. Three putting is the norm and a birdie is something we just dream about. Days I think all amateur golfers struggle with. This is the reason why we are not making money doing this professionally.

To people who never played the game (and those that do play); golf does not make any sense.  That maybe the beauty of the whole thing. You take the club back and go smashing at a small white dimpled ball that could literally do just about anything. Your scores are never the same. Every hole  is played differently. Some days, there are no words to really describe what just happened. I have learned not to thrash at the ball to get it to go further but it is hard when you are playing with guys who effortlessly can hit it 200 yards. Consistency is king in golf and Ican never do the same thing twice even though it seems it should be simple.

What is the fascination with hitting this little ball around some of the most beautiful manicured lawns in the country? For me, it is a game played with myself and to try and beat myself. Can I beat my past score? Can I repeat my swing to be consistent? Deep down I do have a game or at least pieces of something. I feel the need to challenge myself and be the best at what I do. Golf is something I am not good at and therefore I have that fire buring inside to master it. And maybe that is the appeal of the sport. We will never be good at it but we strive to attain perfection.

My goal next year is to try and put all the pieces together and be more consistent. I learned this season it is not how far you can hit the ball but how many times that really matters. I am going to play within my boundaries and strengths of an easy gentle swing where control and repeatability is more important than if I can smash it 200 yards.

I am looking forward to the 2012 season…

7 Steps To Succeeding I Learned From Golf

Playing golf has helped me develop a higher standard for myself (or at least brought them to the fore front).

Here are 7 steps that I apply not only to my golf game but also to my life and career.

  1. Analyze yourself. Where in your game (career/life) are you not succeeding? Think about the areas in your game (career/life) that you are not satisfied with and figure out how to make a change.
  2. Set realistic goals. I don’t want to be Tiger Woods. So why set that as a goal? My goal this season was to break 90 in my golf score. Where do you want to be in your game (career/life)? What will it take to get to that level – training, practice, etc? What are the steps that will lead you there?
  3. Create a game plan. Develop a game (career/life) plan with detailed steps of how you will get there. Set incremental milestones for yourself. My plan is to play more and practice when I could.
  4. Change your thinking. To be successful, you must believe in yourself. Beliefs are what control our behavior. Think through the beliefs that limit your game (career/life) and replace them with positive thinking.
  5. Reward yourself. Focus on small accomplishments and reward yourself for them. For example, I shot my first 90 this season, so I rewarded myself by buying a new set of irons. Once you start making progress in your game (career/life), you will continue to build momentum.
  6. Take action every day. Your effort will accumulate if you try to take appropriate actions toward your goals every day. If I cannot hit the driving range or course, I try to watch a video or read an article on how to improve my golf game at least once a day. The same philosophy can be applied to your career and life.
  7. Surround yourself with people who have higher standards than yours. Find who has already succeeded at the game and play with them. I find playing with better golfers elevates my game also. Playing with A players elevates your game (career/life) to an A level.

My Friday Post: Mulligan – Getting a Second Chance

Like most execs I spent very little time worrying about my network. Who really has the time especially when you put in 12 hour days. And those in my network worked in the same industry as myself. Well that was a mistake on both counts. When the financial crisis occurred my network crumbled like a house of cards. So I had to rebuild my network from the ground up.

I learned from my failure. I wanted my network to be broad and general. No more will I just have people in one particular industry. One-way I am rebuilding my network is by golfing. I am at the driving range 2 to 3 times per week and play a round at least once per week.

Golfing is about more than golf. It is a chance to get to know someone outside of an office setting. There is a certain comfort level to be said on a golf course, which you do not find elsewhere. I am not a good golfer. But so what? Most people that do play are not good either. That is what makes it fun. You are playing a round with someone which can last anywhere from 2 to 5 hours. That is a lot time to talk about business, family, socialize, and network with strangers.

This week alone I played with an owner of a construction company that gave me three names of people to network with. All because I played a round of golf with him for the first time and he like our conversation. Can you ask for any better way of networking? No elevator pitches, no formal interviews. Just two guys bulls##ting on a nice day shanking balls around a course and having fun doing it.

For those of you not playing golf and that want to broaden your network, take a few lessons with a pro and get out there. Those of you out-of-work, get out from behind your computer and go and enjoy some fresh air. Who knows, you might meet your next boss on the links. The worst that could happen is your Rolodex will be full with names. And in a world where networking is king, there is nothing wrong with that. Right?

Leadership on the Links

arungolfI have been playing golf on and off now for about 5 years. I really was not serious about playing until recently.  Now that I am unemployed I have really made an effort to be a better player.

Golf, unlike other sports, doesn’t really require strength, stamina, or speed in great abundance.  It is a mental game. You, your club, a small ball, and x amount of yardage to get to a small hole. Golf and leadership, have a lot in common: integrity, determination, and enthusiasm are central to both.

Integrity: A good leader understands how important it is to face up to mistakes and to be honest. You have to admit your mistakes to team members.

When playing you have to be honest about your strokes. There are numerous opportunities where you can make your score better than it really is. Integrity is vital to golf as it is to leadership.

Determination: You will be constantly challenged with long hours, disgruntled staff, unreasonable expectations, and inflated egos. Good leaders push through the difficulties with a firmness of purpose to drive results that exceed expectations with flying colors.

On the golf course, there will be times when your swing is not there anymore. To find success, you have to be determined enough to fight through these ‘low spots’ and get your rhythm back to the forefront. You have to never give up.

Enthusiasm: Be positive. Human nature is to be around people that make us feel good? We want our leaders to be ‘beacons of light’ that we gravitate towards. A leader should make us believe that we can take on any challenge and overcome any obstacle.

When playing golf, it is important that have a good attitude.  A good mental game allows you to have a good physical game. There will be times when you will become frustrated and angry at the game and yourself. This is the time to take a deep breath, enjoy your surroundings and to remember that you are out there to have fun. Doing so will make you a better golfer and a better leader.

See you on the nineteenth hole! 🙂