Fescue and Poa
In late June, our little town of University Place, Washington was thrust on to the national stage. Chambers Bay, a links style golf course overlooking the picturesque waters of Puget Sound, was selected to host the 2015 US Open Golf Championship. Government officials, business owners, and residents were buzzing with anticipation of the forthcoming economic boost a tournament of this stature can have on a local community. ‘Finally, all eyes will be on us,’ was the prevailing sentiment as the date approached. Then tragedy struck in two words, Fescue and Poa. These two different types of grass compose the competing foliage of the course which made the greens tough – even for professionals.
Rather than bask in the glow of adoration from media outlets covering the practice rounds, locals were thrust into damage control mode as professional golfers such as Sergio Garcia and Colin Montgomerie voiced their displeasure with the course. The added visuals of Tiger Woods struggling in the weeds reinforced a national opinion that this course, that we have been grooming for five years and preparing to unveil to the world, sucks.
But then, a new storyline began to emerge during the second round of the tournament. Jason Day, the number 10 ranked golfer in the world, collapsed on the course due to dizziness caused by vertigo. This same condition caused him to withdraw from a tournament the previous year. Audiences watched in great support of this young man as he fought through the dizziness and the nausea. It looked as though he was leaning on his caddy to remain upright as he prepared for his final putt of the third round. But through it all, he shot a two-under-par 68 to finish tied for the lead entering into the final round.
For Jason, his challenge was not looking down to deal with fescue or poa. To achieve his goal of winning a major championship, he had to walk slowly and focus on the horizon. Looking down was not an option. Entering the final round of the US Open, Jason was clearly the crowd favorite - courageously battling through the dizziness, nausea, and fatigue brought on by the medications he was taking. It is the type of drama Hollywood looks for in a sports-themed movie. As Terry Blount, Staff Writer for ESPN wrote, ‘It would have been the feel-good moment to end a week with way too many feel-bad moments and ugly comments about Chamber’s Bay.’
But it was not to be. He ended the day five strokes behind the winner, Jordan Spieth, and tied for ninth place overall. Ninth place? Hardly the finish to the feel-good story that we craved.
Except that was not the end of the story. On August 16, 2015 Jason Day won the PGA Championship while setting a major championship record for strokes under par. He shot an amazing 20 under par for the tournament. A feat no one had accomplished before. Not Arnold. Not Jack. Not Tiger. Oh, and by the way, he beat US Open Champion Jordan Speith by three strokes.
Walk slowly. Focus on the horizon. Push through adversity. Failure to win is NOT failure. Continue to compete. Stay on target. When you reach the summit, do not stop. Look to the next peak.
This storyline works. It works in golf, it works in life, and it works in business.
Don’t let a little fescue or poa steal your focus and distract you from the powerful storyline where you accomplish great things as you gaze toward the horizon.
Tom McTee, Super-Genius