Despite Mark Twain’s disdain for the game, as the first stage of reopening after lockdown approaches, the mood on the WhatsApp Golf Chat is beginning to turn more positive.
The shared stories of what golfers have been doing during lockdown have kept us amused. There have been new bags, new clubs, faulty driving nets and broken windows, carpet putting gadgets and, a claim from one that he has remodelled his back garden to look like the famous 12th hole at the Augusta Masters, (which returns next week). But what we really want is to get back to playing. There are many rematches outstanding from 2019, swings in the middle of being reconstructed and new trolleys yet to roll on the fairways, or more likely, pulled through the rough.
Golf is a strange sport that unites so many people across all age groups. In what other game do you improve your chances of winning this week by playing badly last week? With a universal handicap system launched at the end of 2020, we should now see fair competition across all club competitions. And the ability for handicapped amateurs in the UK and US to play each other, without the need for arbitrary adjustments.
This was a subject close to my heart back in the ‘90s as the UK IT Industry started playing what became an annual “Ryder Cup” match against the IT Industry in the US. Alternating between famous European and the US courses over 15 years, some fantastic relationships were built. However, just like the English language, we were two countries divided by a common handicapping system. Pictured is the 2004 UK team before our 3 day match against the US at, this years venue for the Ryder Cup, Whistling Straits.
So why is golf a subject for this week’s blog?
As we start planning our return to the workplace and meeting partners, customers and suppliers face to face, this recent message from the Club Captain at Cotswold Hills seems very appropriate.
“Take a tip from an old Pro and don't expect too much from your first game back. Cool temperatures and damp fairways will not flatter your distance. If you hit 8 really good shots, you'll have done well after 3 months of no play, so just enjoy finally being back out on the course.”
Our non-virtual meetings might take time to get back to normal; introductions will probably take longer as events over the last 12 months will need to be recalled. Many will have lost someone close, a family member, friend or a colleague. Many contacts will have changed roles and there will be lots of new learning required with ideas and changes to digest. Previous routines will not be resumed easily, and for some, they won’t resume at all.
Back in 2019, when we launched the Ecosystem Programme, we envisaged meeting people at our events, getting to know their businesses and matching them up with partners or indeed customers where we thought there could be mutual benefit. The Showcase webinars and virtual innovation events over the past 12 months have enabled us to continue to make these introductions. The recent success with IBM, UKFT and Leeds University, in being awarded a grant for a sustainability project to support UKFT members and retail customers, has enabled the programme to deliver against our original vision.
But we are missing the face-to-face introductions, the opportunity to really get to know people and their businesses. This is where golf comes back in. During a 4-hour round (I know optimistic) where far more time is spent walking and searching, than actually hitting the ball, there is plenty of opportunity to get to know people. And if you don’t play yet, then the Driving Range and the 19th Hole can provide equally good opportunities to meet and discuss.
And now, we are beginning to plan for the Autumn. We are looking at dates and potential courses on the assumption we will be able to hold a golf day in 2021. This is an early warning notice, so you can get your game in shape, take some lessons and have something to look forward to after your summer staycation!
And whilst we work towards that day, we still have some events for you to attend and previous content to play. This link will take you to a recording of last week’s Supply Chain webinar: https://youtu.be/ZXCgFvmAqh8
To discuss possible partnerships and opportunities with any of the presenters, please drop me a line and I’ll set up an introduction. And maybe we’ll see you on a course later this year.