Jose Palomino

2016 PGA Championship: Adapting to Conditions

August 16, 2016


Image Credit: Mike Groll | AP Photo

To succeed, a company has to be able to adapt to changing conditions in its market. In other words, you – and your company – have to think on your feet. Even though most people know the importance of staying ahead of the game, sometimes you even have to take reactionary action.

Anyone who watched this year’s coverage of the PGA Championship can agree that there were both shining moments and awful pitfalls during the event. PGA of America made some deplorable decisions, and they made some admirable ones — but the entire performance was a nationally-broadcasted lesson in adapting to changing conditions.

Changing Conditions Cannot Be Ignored

The PGA’s decision to use “preferred lies” in the fourth round has resulted in considerable backlash, especially after the PGA’s chief championships officer Kerry Haigh stated on the Saturday night of the tournament that the use of preferred lies would be “very unlikely.”

Preferred lies or “winter rules” allow a golfer to mark the ball, pick it up, clean it, and place it within a club length of their mark. It’s a measure not usually taken during majors, even in conditions like we saw on PGA weekend. However, the PGA assessed that conditions were wet enough that it was only fair to allow players to clear their ball and their lie of mud.

Even though the course ended up being so saturated that it was difficult to find a good place to set the ball, the idea was that the change in rules would allow players to face the weather more fairly. The decision was not popular, but the conditions had to be addressed.

Conditions Are Difficult to Predict

Like market forecasting, the weather often seems impossible to accurately predict. The heavy rain and storms that Baltusrol saw on Saturday and Sunday were forecasted, but as they were also forecasted for Thursday and Friday with no results, the PGA took a chance. They decided to send players off only the first tee over the weekend.


Image Credit: Jason Szenes | European Pressphoto Agency

This decision earned them some criticism, and did not turn out as planned. Because of the inclement weather, many golfers did not even get to start their third round on Saturday, let alone finish it. The weather delay lasted all day — forcing 2 rounds to be played on Sunday.

The PGA’s decision to use only the first tee — instead of the first and the tenth, as they had done on Thursday and Friday — was a failure to adapt to conditions. Because they were likely to have limited time, it would have made more sense to use both tees.

Adapting Requires Hard Work

The veritable deluge on Saturday meant that there was considerable work to be done before the course would be playable for Sunday. The ground staff at Baltusrol rose to the occasion, working through the night on Saturday to get the course in shape.

In order to overcome the obstacle of abysmal weather, the ground staff put in hours and hours of extra work. Sometimes, there really is no gain without pain. If conditions arise that threaten the success of your company, you need to work to either combat them or get around them. Again, you can’t ignore them — you can only face them.

One member of my team had the opportunity to spend Thursday and Friday at Baltusrol. A particularly good area of customer service that she recognized was in the event shop.

Though the line for check-out looked like it would take hours, it took only fifteen minutes. This was due to the quick and efficient work of a great number of cashiers — another example of adaptation requiring perspiration. Despite droves of people moving through at once, the event shop adapted to deliver an enjoyable, headache-free experience.

Bottom line:

Conditions are going to change — whether we’re talking about the market or the weather. If you don’t adapt to them, you’re risking the wellbeing and success of your business. Like the PGA, you need to find ways to address obstacles.

  • Are you prepared to quickly adapt to market changes?
  • Is your team prepared to put in the work required to take intelligent reactionary action?
  • How has failure to adapt hurt your company in the past?

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