If you play golf, like Robert Mims Memphis does, then you know the expression “drive for show, putt for dough”. Indeed, some say that is the foundation of the sport. Interestingly, golfers know that, in order to win a game, they have to show finesse. But what everybody wants to do is drive the ball as far as possible. This is why there are driving ranges, but no chipping ranges. According to Robert Mims, the same is true for managers. They want to get to the end as soon as possible.

Robert Mims Memphis Compares Managers and Golf

Mims went to university in Louisville, studying business. This enabled him to become a CFO for a community organization, and, later on, for a larger business. Time and time again, he saw the same thing: golfers want to play, not practice, and managers are the same. A manager doesn’t want to read a report on a new guideline, they want to implement it. A golfer doesn’t want to read Golf Digest, they want to score a hole in one. In realty, in so doing, they steal from their own abilities because they could do so much better.

A manager takes rushed decisions. Someone may be fired for no reason, perhaps because they were cited in a vicious rumor that turned out to be untrue. A good manager takes the time and to wait until they hear the shoplift arrest is true through sources other than coffee room news, but most simply don’t have time for that. Similarly, a golfer just takes any of the nearest clubs and puts all their feelings into a swing, often missing completely or ending up somewhere in the sandbank because they didn’t take the time to pick the right club.

Every August, if you head to the nearest country club that is accepting new members, you will see young golfers in designer attire, prancing around thinking they know everything. They talk about handicaps, forgotten strokes, and mulligans, but they really know nothing. Any seasoned golfer can come in with an old set of clubs and mismatched clothes, and essentially wipe the floor with them. The same is true in management. New managers feel they have something to prove. They put on a show to make themselves look good, in an Armani suit and wearing a Rolex watch. However, they don’t truly know what they are doing yet.

Perhaps one of the greatest reasons why so many managers play golf, is because the two are so clearly linked. And perhaps it also the link between the two that enables them to become better at both. When they understand that their Armani suit will not help them make those tough decisions, and when they know their expensive clubs won’t get them a hole in one; when they realize that what matters is skill, finesse, and tact, they finally become better golfers and better managers. At least, that is Robert Mims’ theory and it seems that many agree with him.