Five sales lessons from The Masters Golf Tournament


With all due respect to college football, this is the best sports week of the year. It starts with baseball opening day and the NCAA men’s basketball championship, then finishes with (cue the music) The Masters.

Even if you aren’t a golf fan, there’s something about Augusta National.  Magical.

What can the Masters teach us about sales?  Plenty it turns out.  Five points in particular:

1. You can’t win in the first round, but you can lose in the first round
After this year’s first round, Jordan Spieth (a 21-year-old up-and-comer) is in the lead by three strokes.  Ben Crenshaw, a former Masters champion, finished his first round 29 shots over par.  Spieth still has a LOT of golf left to play to win this tournament.  But Crenshaw is pretty much done.  In sales, something similar is true.  Starting the month or quarter strong won’t guarantee you a spot in the President’s Club.  But start the selling period badly and it’s near impossible to recover.  This means putting in the work to build up your pipeline, close early deals, work just as hard in the beginning of the month as you do in the last days.  That’s how champions win.

2. Drive for show, putt for dough
Can you hit the ball 300 yards?  Good for you.  But it’s often the short game – shots of less than 30 yards, putts of less than 10 feet – that make or break a round, or tournament.  It’s the seemingly little things that separate champions from also-rans.  In sales, those who build the biggest pipeline look good out of the gate.  But it’s the little things – executed and practiced and executed again and again – that win tournaments (and quotas).

3. The best players in the world know how to scramble
In golf, this means turning an errant shot off of the tee into a par.  Yes, a par.  You go to the tee planning to shoot an under-par hole every time.  But the best golfers in the world play the majority of their holes even par.  Then win by “saving” those errant tee shots, then converting even better tee shots into birdies or better.  In sales, you will have good days.  And bad days.  Good calls, and bad calls.  The tap-in putts don’t come very often.  Much more often, you’ll be scrambling.  That’s where you win.  That’s where you save your opportunity to wear the Green Jacket.

4. You gotta read the greens to make par – every hole & every day is different
The greens at Augusta are notoriously difficult.  Heavily angled, and really fast.  But every golfer knows that greens on one course vs. another can be completely different.  Even the same greens on the same hole on the same course can play different from day to day based on the weather, based on how many other golfers have trampled on it that day, etc.  No matter your strategy or skill level, you still have to play the course in front of you – which can change in conditions on a dime.  Same goes for your prospects (enough said).

5. You can have all the support in the world, but once you’re out there playing – it’s just you
Great coaching, great training, great preparation.  All critical, all required.  And even once you tee off, an experienced & trusted caddie can carry your clubs, make the 18-hole walk a little easier, even give you distance, shot and club selection advice.  But once you pick your club and address the ball, once it’s time to swing – it’s all you out there, with everybody watching.  Are you ready?