Who’s Your Caddy?

Posted 08.03.2008

Wanted to take a moment to write today about something that’s been on my mind for the past couple of weeks. Anyone who has heard me speak to a group in the past year or so knows about my obsession (no stalking, I promise) with Tiger Woods. As I wrote in my blog earlier this year, Tiger is, in my mind, one of the best examples ever of someone using mental focus combined with talent and skill to achieve a desired outcome. His win at the U.S. Open earlier this year with a blown out knee and a broken leg is just the most over the top example of what I’m talking about.

Tiger Woods and his caddy, Steve Williams During the Tiger-less British Open a couple of weeks ago, I had a bit of an epiphany around something else that makes Tiger great. He has a built-in foundation of support in his caddy, Steve Williams. When you watch Tiger play, he’s constantly conferring with Steve and when he sinks a 50 foot putt for an impossible birdie, the first thing he does after the fist pump is run over to Steve to celebrate (see picture, right).

What brought on this insight was watching 53-year-old Greg Norman’s improbable run for Greg Norman at British Open the championship at the British Open last month. He came into the final round on Sunday on a high and with the lead. As the day unfolded, Norman played an overly aggressive game and regularly found himself in quite a bit of trouble. He eventually finished second. Over the course of the broadcast, it struck me that Norman was essentially alone in every camera shot. He had no Steve Williams equivalent as a source of counsel and support.

Golf is one of the toughest sports there is because there is so much time to think between shots. Your emotions can quickly take over your judgment and capacity for problem solving. In Steve Williams, Tiger has given himself an outlet for managing both his positive and negative emotions. Realizing this has made me more aware of the importance of that aspect of teamwork and performance. As a result, I’m looking for new opportunities to not just team up with good “caddies” but to be a better caddy for others. Who’s your caddy?