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Playing Pelican Hill – with help

19f266a1-fe36-49a2-8d61-7a1cec853b1cHad the distinct pleasure of playing Pelican Hill near Newport Beach, California.  The course is scenic, the company was fulsome but a new addition to my golfing experience was mind altering. Dan made the whole game so much better, it was hard to understate his impact.

When Brian Gardiner and I joined Jamie Zimron [LPGA Pro] and several other Vistage chairs on the 6am bus from downtown LA, we were bleary, wondering if signing up for golf had been a good idea.  Jamie’s energetic talk perked us, the sun finally rose and our spirits too.

But when we went to the carts and Dan – in sparkling white coveralls – announced “I’ll be helping you” – that signalled a golf game unlike others I’ve ever enjoyed.

Now Pelican is a hell of a tough course.  Tom Fazio design.  Up and down, over ravines, side hill lies, dramatic sea prospects.  And who is this “helper” who’s been assigned to us?

The first hole, downslope, side hill – Dan jumps off his fireman ride on the cart ahead – is over to the first short drive with his range finder, calls out “185 plays like 160 – aim left because everything falls right.”   He hustles on ahead to the next ball while I play this one.  He knows I’m not allowed to drive on the grass on this hole, that I would need to know the yardage so I could bring the right clubs to the far side of a descending fairway.  Saves me a trip and some confusion.

I’m a little thick.  It dawns on me.  I get it.  He’s our caddie!  Never had one!

Beside the green for my pitch from below, Dan’s up on the green giving me a line to the hole.  I am pleasantly surprised by how helpful that is.  I get up to the green, he takes my wedge and hands me my putter.  He’s already holding the flagstick and using it like the skip’s broom in curling, giving Chuck “ice” for the break on his putt.  “You’re fighting the grain here uphill so 120%”.  When it’s my turn, I’m off slightly off his line [doubting] but what he saw, I didn’t.  The putt is close, closer than it would have been if I’d scoped it on my own.  As Allen and Brian finish up, he’s calling lines – not commanding but suggesting.  Extremely helpful because he knows the greens and he knows golf.  And he’s right, surprisingly right, surprisingly often.  You just have to let him in and let him work.

Dan guides us through the confusing paths to the next tee.  Tells you the character of the hole – “Straightaway Par 5, bunker left at 235, right 250”. No instruction, just simple information, making a strange course less so.  If I blow the shot, no comment. It’s not his game, it’s my game.  Just on with the business of the next shot, finding the ball in the rough.  He’s always keeping an eye and moving ahead of us – anticipating.
After 3 or 4 holes, I start to get his potential.  I ask him about flaring my tee shots right.  “Those Nike’s [rentals] are stiff shaft, you can try moving your lead foot back from the ball a touch, just small adjustments.”  He’s noticed the character of the clubs as he’s been at my bag.   Not usual to ask a caddie but the name of my game is helping others be better at the game in real time, and that’s his, too.
Bang, down the pipe.

I’m real starting to enjoy this!  On the fifth, I follow his putting guidance to the letter.  He calls lines and speeds I can’t see because I don’t know the subtleties of this ocean course and haven’t had the experience of grain and it’s impact on the flat stick.  I sink a 25 footer!  Now we’re talking!

So it goes.  My shotmaking gets a bit better but my fun quotient keeps rising.  A few more smart plays.  A few more long putts go down.  What a delight.  All the while this convivial presence,anticipating what’s needed, giving quiet guidance where it will help, never intruding, but earning his place in our party.  Joins in to the patter, but always with a respectful distance.

It just gets better as we go.  I can’t claim a great score but I know it would have been much worse with more frustration than it would have been without him.  His tip is substantial but well worth it.  He made my round a surprising delight.

My aim and fond hope is that I am that way with my President clients.  I may not have played from this particular lie, but I know the game and I know what’s ahead.  I can help anticipate where the shots of business need to be to score.  I can encourage.  I can call subtleties and disclose the unseen.  Without making it my game, I can nudge, point out, give insider type information.  Make the game more fun, reduce frustration, point out challenges, adjust thinking, introduce perspectives.

From a quiet start – “I’m Dan and I’ll be helping you today.”  I aspire to be as good at what I do as Dan is at what he does.

Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

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Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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