I want to start this blog without any ambiguity at all. I am a Rory McIlroy fan; possibly to a fault.
The first is that pound for pound, he houses more potential than any other golfer on the PGATour. For most of this season however, Rory has clearly looked like he has been plagued by a loss of direction and a quest for clarity.
Yet, he still competes, he still wins and still reminds us that his talent is omnipresent.
While constant form is an illusion, an unreasonable desire and frankly unwanted, Rory’s mediocre days are always only one shot from morphing into a spectacular surge of brilliance.
He is a polemic golfer who at his best, fights and slays the field off with his clubs rather than a pen. He’s that individual that if told ‘you can’t’, he will without fail show you that he can. I love the guy and his style of golf.
Yes, form IS temporary, but it doesn’t have to be unscheduled or unreliable; form can be summoned upon with the right ingredients and preparation at the right time. There is no mystery when it comes to priming talent.
So, for all of his tinkering and misdirection; his year has been well, just ok.
A win at The Arnold Palmer Invitational, a T5 at The Masters, a T2 at The Open and three top 10’s shows a B+ on the report card.
The second reason I am a Rory McIlroy fan is hatred.
Yes folks, I simply hate untapped or underused potential and talent.
My career has been built upon identifying untapped, unseen and underutilized talent. I have mentored players to:
- Eight National Amateur wins -and two National Professional wins.
- #1 in the World.
- Two World #5’s.
- 1 x European Tour Order of Merit.
- 1x World Junior Champion.
- 1 x Nationwide Tour Winner.
- European Tour: French Open, Australian Masters, Volvo Masters and Italian Open winners.
- Three Challenge Tour wins.
- A Ryder Cup Consultancy with Captain Paul McGinley.
- x 2-time bestselling author.
I write the above not to brag, but to validate. I am an expert at what I do or what I did.
My coaching / teaching days are over, and that body of work is behind me. Today, I have other interests in the fields of business and human potential.
This is no sales pitch. Understand me?
So back to hatred. I look at Rory McIlroy and want to him to know that he is no golfer.
He is a walking, talking organic business plan.
It’s incredibly misguided and naïve to think just because talent is abundantly available, it should be allowed to roam care-free, untethered, unchanneled and most importantly…. unmentored.
Indeed, this is the biggest curse for sportsman from Great Britain and Ireland; we believe in naturals too much……but, this is another subject discussion for another day.
Again, he’s not a golfer, no PGA Tour player is. He’s a business plan in which the physical, the mental and the strategical all come together. Each modality works independently yet fits together, like the pieces of a jigsaw, to make the whole picture.
Lose the pieces or worse still, never define those pieces……and you lose the picture.
In both life and golf, you simply cannot rely on your memory for a ‘best practices recall’.
In a Periscope broadcast I did about four months ago, which Rory watched, I used him in an example when talking about the need for players to own their identity (business plan) and not be subject to a constant barrage of external information.
If a plan had been in existence since 2008 or just ‘something’ was in existence today, Rory and his unquestioned talent could be scheduled, could be timed and most importantly, could never be questioned like he’s doing now. Life on the course could be so much simpler than it presently is.
His current mindset is one of search.
The good news is however, as Tiger has aptly demonstrated, that there is also something called truth.
Yeah, I hate the guy, I hate the needless non-capitalization of his talent through poor management. But I also love the guy; his potential gluts the appetite.
HIS OWN WORST ENEMY – UNFILTERED AND UNMENTORED
Most of my work nowadays is mentoring high net worth CEO’S whose value range from $650M to $1.3Billion. I love being around these guys, it’s taught me A LOT about the way alpha males and alpha females think and behave. One of my clients has 42,000 employees’, yes, 42,000!! And make no mistake, he IS the boss.
The single biggest repeating character pattern these titans of industry demonstrate, can be found in their ability to trustfully delegate their decision making.
If I have heard the words ‘ok, just get it done!’ once, I have heard it a million times from these clients.
They don’t dick around.
They come to these forthright decisions because they trust the people around them and more importantly, they are not beyond being mentored and told what to do.
Not exclusive to, but most notably during TV interviews, we see Rory McIlroy blurt out unfiltered comments that are best left in the warm ruts of one’s mind.
The best example was earlier this year in which he announced ‘I don’t care about The US Open or The Open, I just care about The Masters’.
The press didn’t use lures or bait, they didn’t need them. Yet again, Rory’s ‘speak before you think’ policy during press conferences gave them all the headline they wanted. They went to town on him, and rightly so.
Where was the managements suggested script? Where was the facile narrative that would have kept the wolves at bay? Who is not calling him aside and schooling him on strategic media management? If no one……why not?
This was an exercise in wasting the most valuable resource we have as he defended these comments……Energy. And thank God for James Haddock, my Sky Golf colleague, who at Quail Hollow gave Rory the opportunity to extinguish his unthought verbiage.
He didn’t mean to say what he did, I know he didn’t……there just wasn’t any plan.
Because his management team are too close to him and too much in awe.
Top CEO’s relish getting challenged by their management teams, its stimulating. I strongly doubt this is the case in the McIlroy camp. I suspect that the worst kind of interaction is present; hero worshipping. Whatever Rory wants, he gets. This is not management, it’s capitulation.
Rory’s present and future actions are never challenged, and his thus stubbornness can survive.
Valerie Hogan challenged Ben. Barbara Nicklaus organized Jack and McCormack mentored Arnold.
Like any top CEO, Rory must seek to build a steadfast plan based on the two E’s……Evidence and Experience. What has physically worked in the past? And what has he personally learned from various interactions?
Success IS worth documenting and a challenging management, allied to strong mentorship is vital.
He needs a better compass.
TWITTER AND THE PEANUT GALLERY
I took some flack this week over comments I made about Rory’s childhood friend and caddy Harry.
The premise of the Tweet I sent out was that ‘He doesn’t have the gravitas to highlight where to miss a shot’. I based this assumption on two premises.
The first is his relative inexperience as a topflight caddy.
The second is in the ‘challenging’ Rory issue I made earlier.
At Riviera this year, I walked up to Rory just to say hi and re-introduce myself. There was no intention of forced assistance or an imposed lesson. In truth, I was fascinated by what I was looking at.
For twenty minutes I had watched him continually miss threading a ball through a putting gate from about 2ft. I was gob smacked. His stroke, while not perfect, didn’t look bad enough for that failure rate. But time and time again I watched the predictable routine of his ball ricocheting off the gate and then his shoulders slump.
So, I went over and said hi. As I looked down at the PVC matt he was putting on, I couldn’t help noticing that it was a bumpier than Gobi Desert. It had ridges, waves no less en route to the putting gate.
Now, I’m not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but I do know about positive and negative re-enforcement and you’d have more chance of finding a virgin in a maternity ward than that ball deftly navigating that gate. This was a negative feedback device.
Any caddy worth their salt wouldn’t have taken that matt and used it as a frisbee. As a student of NVC (non-verbal communication), I had witnessed all I needed to about this relationship between caddy and player.
One person was simply observing and probably thinking the same as me: ‘this is crazy’……and the other, mindlessly failing at the same task but with the same approach to the next attempt. Footnote: Einstein’s quote.
I spoke up:……’Can I say something to you about your putting?’ and in a gracious and pleasant way Rory replied: ‘No, I’m fine thanks very much’.
That week, Rory spoke to long time friend and past student of mine Brad Faxon, got freed up and went from -2.00 SGP to +2.00 SGP to win The Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. I was totally thrilled for him.
Most caddies earn their money when things are not going to plan. The good ones are the voice of reason and strategy when the swing isn’t firing. They are also gatekeepers when people are sniffing around their players on the range.
More than that, they are trusted wingman who either speak with authority in their voice or know when to shut the hell up. Great caddies can just as easily sense a player’s mood in the morning as well know when small talk will be smacked down in the afternoon.
Some caddies get too close, others never generate rapport. Both get fired.
Caddying is one of the single hardest jobs in sport, if not THE hardest.
So, you’ll have to forgive me when I watch poor shots miss in the wrong place for one of the most talented players in the world and I comment. And you’ll have to forgive me when I see no authority and no dialogue that the likes John McLaren, Billy Foster, Fooch, Steve Williams or a Mickey Doran would impose upon the player they are working with.
So, if you’re a caddy on Twitter, by all means be offended by my criticism one of your newer colleagues, it takes a lot to make me cry. But understand the problem here.
When you have a headstrong player like Rory McIlroy, you need an equally experienced expert caddy on the bag. So, ask yourself the question, why hasn’t he?
The reason, which I hope will change, is that he is never challenged within his team and as a result, the character of an uber talented athlete with a my-way highway attitude survives.
We will know when Rory is ready to win more majors:
- He’ll have a mature, advisory and dedicated team around him.
- He’ll have a plan.
- He’ll let them do their job, allowing him to do his without self-inflicted confusion.
Live long and prosper.