The Golf Ball and How Nike Missed The Boat

Leading up to the 2000 US Open tournament, virtually all the golf balls in use, especially by professionals, were of wound construction.  Top of the line balls had balata covers which better golfers beat to shreds.  Tour pros routinely used six balls per round.  The exception was a Titleist ball with an Elastomer cover, the Titleist Professional, which closely resembled the Tour Balata, but with a more resilient cover.

At the beginning of the 2000 season, Tiger Woods, who was a Nike athlete was using the Titleist Professional ball.  Nike in partnership with Bridgestone Golf was prototyping a ball called the Nike Tour Accuracy, which Tiger call “My Ball”, planned for release at the beginning of the 2001 PGA Tour season.  In early 2000 Tiger had narrowed the prototype field down to two versions.  After some additional testing, the final version of the ball was brought to Hamburg for testing during practice rounds at the 2000 Deutsche Bank-SAP Open.  In a wind-swept heavy rain, Tiger hit a drive from the first tee with the Titleist Professional ball that the wind caught and push into the rough.  Tiger next hit the Nike prototype on the same starting line. The Nike ball moved about five yards in the wind and stopped in the middle of the fairway.  In May 2000, Tiger switched to the Nike ball, ahead of the original schedule.  Starting with the 2000 US Open, Tiger won his “Tiger Slam” with “My Ball” and changed the golf ball industry in the process.

What does this have to do with business?  During that period, Tiger Woods was the most influential golfer in the world.  That influence resulted in a complete move away from wound golf balls to the new two- and three-piece balls.  To quote Tiger;

“I won four majors with that ball, and the rest is history because wound-ball technology is gone.  Everyone switched.”

Unfortunately, Nike was totally unprepared to capitalize on Tiger’s success using the Nike Tour Accuracy golf ball.  Kel Devlin, Nike’s global director of sports marketing still ponders the circumstances around the ball.

“If we had enough capacity, and I could have gotten the sports marketing folks and Phil [Knight] to buy into the bigger program … if we’d had the ball available to any Tour player who wanted it four weeks earlier than we did …”

Result?  Nike is no longer in the golf ball business and Titleist continues as the far and away best-selling brand of golf balls.

So, I ask you the same question I ask of most of my clients when they are about to begin a new strategy or marketing program,

“What if this works?”

When you do something new, do you prepare for success?  If you are launching a new product or item, do you arrange for timely delivery of inventory on a just-in-time basis?  If you are launching a new service, has your team been fully trained to consistently deliver the service up to the quality you require, while continuing to support (not losing) your existing loyal clients?  To successfully scale your business, it is essential to ask these questions and many more as part of your planning and implementation process.

My ActionCOACH colleagues and I are expert at assisting clients just like you in the development of new products and services and business growth.

*Based on an article in the June 2019 edition of Golf Magazine.

Stress Test Your Business

One of the most important concepts my colleagues and I at ActionCOACH coach our clients on is being proactive.  Everything from our GrowthCLUB (90 Day Planning Workshop), our use of the ActionCOACH Business Chassis (5 Way Formula), to the alignment consultation we use to start each of our client’s coaching programs, is aimed at promoting proactivity.  Unfortunately, too many of the businesses I am introduced to operate on a reactive basis, reacting on a daily, sometimes hourly, rhythm of solving crisis after crisis after crisis.  The consequences of operating in reactive mode are many; lack of growth, low company morale, low or no profit, high levels of stress, and in some cases, bankruptcy! Chief among the steps toward proactivity is to periodically Stress Test your business.  Here are a few of the tests you must perform:
TEST Explanation
What if this works? “What if this works?” is one of my best coaching questions.  You cannot achieve continuing success without preparing for it.  This doesn’t mean starting a second shift before your sales increase, for example.  It does mean having the plans and processes for starting a second shift prepared as part of introducing your new product.
What if a key part of your business goes down? Machinery breakdowns, illness of key team members, storms, key team retirement or resignations, etc. are a fact of business life.  How much cross training and employee development is part of your daily routine?  How many strategic alliances have you developed?  Do you have succession plans?  Being prepared is a major responsibility of business ownership and leadership.
What is my customer retention? Low customer retention, and/or a low customer referral rate are leading KPIs, indicating a need to proactively redesign your operations.  Simply, if you are not at minimum, satisfying your customers, you have a big problem.  Of course, your goal should be to consistently WOW your customers.  Customers who are only satisfied are not loyal, raving fan customers.
  The results of these stress tests and others, whether good or bad, should lead you to proactive activities.  My colleagues and I at ActionCOACH are ready to assist you to stress test your business and to implement proactive processes.  All you need to do to start your proactive journey is contact us.  

Work on your business, not just in your business.