Golf Lessons

06 Aug 2020 8:23 PM | John Heap (Administrator)

I was watching the PGA Championship (one of the major golf championships) on TV today when a thought struck me.


Golf players learn the basics, and then with a combination of coaching and practice, they slowly develop and improve the way they play.  In golf, the margins of error are very fine - a 1 degree off-aim error when striking a drive off the tee can result in a very wayward shot - and a difficult second shot. The aim of all the coaching and practice is to instil consistency in the golf swing, so that, for example, every 6-iron shot is the same as every other 6-iron shot, unless it needs to be different due to prevailing conditions (the lie of the land, the wind and so on). A role of the coach is to observe the golfer in play and identify things that can be worked on with further practice to make small, steady improvements - reducing errors and improving consistency.


All of this seems to me to be like a manufacturing process. The aim of tools and techniques such ad Lean and Six Sigma is to create a reproducible, consistent process that delivers consistent results.  Lean black belts are the coaches that oversee the design of the process. The operatives (and their supervisors) execute the process and get involved with their coach (say, in Kaizen activities) to identify small improvements that can reduce errors and improve consistency.


So, what else might we learn from watching/analysing golf?


Well, players are always reminded to:


avoid slow play (in golf as in manufacturing processes, delay is to be avoided)

replace divots and rake bunkers to avoid problems for following golfers (this ‘mirrors’ the 5S principle of maintaining a tidy, organised workplace)

play to the rules and  in order of who is furthest from the hole (in both golf and manufacturing processes, standard operating procedures should be followed).

be respectful to their playing partners (good teamwork involves mutual respect)  


I am sure you can think of other comparisons.


So, next time you are conducting an improvement investigation, imagine you are playing golf  - and, of course, aim for a sub-par round!


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