Jim Furyk: LEADERSHIP Inspired by the Game of Golf (Exclusive Series)

Andy Reistetter@GolfWriter59Analyst IApril 19, 2010

This the fifth article in a year-long exclusive series. The author Andy Reistetter shares his insight on how PGA TOUR players, competition and the game of golf can be utilized inside corporations to dynamically develop corporate leadership and culture. Reistetter has written two booksonone on inspirational leadership called "The Approach" and the other on inspirational living called "Love, The Rest of My Life (TROML) & The Pursuit of Eternity." Both books are available by emailing AndyReistetter@gmail.com.   

Most people think of Jim Furyk as a golfer who went two-and-a-half years without a win on the PGA TOUR.

But they don't know the Jim Furyk, the natural leader, the team player or the family man.

Jim Furyk led and did win during that two-and-a-half year personal victory hiatus on both the 2008 United States Ryder Cup team at Valhalla and the 2009 United States President's Cup team at Harding Park.

In Furyk lies a premiere example of leadership and an enveloping dynamic culture that can benefit corporations throughout the world.

He understands it is relationships first and foremost, whether in one's personal or professional life.

Everyone knows the objective is to win or maximize corporate profit.

Without success to some degree there is no professional golfing career.

There is no company, organization or corporate entity without profit, even for "non-profits" who are also subject to the realities of a worldwide financial system.

Is valuing people the first step to having an evolving dynamic culture where natural leadership can prevail and flourish?

A culture where people are motivated by an inspiring example or an inspiring manner of leadership and not by fear alone?

Jim leads and people follow.

How does he do that?

He values people to the extent of being irreplaceable. He sees people as a never dying fountain of creativity, of improvement and willingness to work hard no matter what it takes to achieve success.

He is forthright, honest and of good morals.

He is and he demands sincerityto—tell the truth, the whole truth and do the right thing no matter what the circumstances are or what the consequences could be.

The "flagstick" photograph for this exclusive series of 'Corporate Leadership Inspired by The Game of Golf,' is Tom Watson holding the flagstick above his head on the 15th hole at Turnberry in the Open he almost won last year at age 59.

It was Saturday, he was playing with Steve Marino who hit his ball down a gulley to the right side of the green at the difficult par-3 hole.

After going down the slope to help Marino find his ball, Tom came back up to the green and raised the flagstick as high as he could so Marino could know where the hold was located.

See beyond what seems to be…

Why did Watson do this?

Why did Watson help his competitor in the last pairing of the day while both pursued the Claret Jug and the title of "the champion golfer of the year?"

Because he is a natural leader who understands the dynamics of improving oneself and one's golf game.

He raised that flagstick high and assisted Marino because he knew that it would raise the standard of competition.

He confidently knew that he would naturally elevate his performance to a higher level as the standards were increased even if by his own doing.

Tom didn’t need a third party to motivate him by fear to improve his golf game.

He did it naturally as the pride of the American Midwest.

As it did turn out, the next day he needed someone to whisper in his ear that even a 59-year-old gets an adrenaline rush and is capable of hitting an 8-iron more than 184 yards over the green at the home hole.

Jim Furyk did the same thing at the President's Cup late Sunday afternoon before Tiger sealed the deal for the American team.

Behind in his match and uncertain of the team outcome Furyk was inspiring in a way that nobody else save this author may have noticed.

Furyk's competitor- the reigning Masters champion Angel Cabrera hit an awkward shot at the par-3 11th hole.

Well left and a bit long, Cabrera's tee shot took a big bounce and then even a bigger bounce off the deck of a wooden handicap platform.

Then it rolled down a cart path ending up 50 yards from the hole and in the proverbial golfer's "jail."

Furyk who had the honor on the tee and hit his ball on the green marched right down to the gallery at the scene of no crime and quickly inquired about what had happened to Cabrera's ball before even Cabrera arrived.

"Did anyone touch it or kick it?"

See beyond what seems to be…

Why did Furyk do this?

Like Watson, he did this because he knows if he goes above and beyond the rules of golfing competitions he will be challenged to a higher standard and naturally improves, thereby elevating his game to a higher performance level.

As it turned out, Cabrera took a drop on a hillside no closer to the hole and made an unbelievable three to tie Furyk on the hole.

Cabrera would go on and catch fire birdieing the next three holes and defeating Furyk in singles for only the second time in President's Cup history.

Though Tiger would seal the deal later for the American team with a birdie on the 13th hole before embracing United States Captain Fred Couples.  

If valuing people and high moral standards like integrity and ethical behavior are the first two steps in a leadership style and culture, what are the remaining keys to producing the right dynamics in your organization?

The next key is building a team mentality even though individuals fill positions with defined roles and responsibilities in a static organization culture.

Does Jim Furyk change whether he is battling a competitor in a singles match in an international competition or playing against the field on the Copperhead golf course in the Transitions event?  

The answer is no—he does not change fundamentally.

He is always a team player whether in his relationship to his family, caddie, equipment supplier, tournament sponsor, or most importantly a fan or patron of the game of golf.

As the situation or competition changes, he may choose a different strategy but his 1-2-3 punch is always value people, morals and ethics and being a team player, and always knowing there is something larger than self in this world—whether at work or play.

Imagine if each person in your organization—whether on the shop floor in the plant or in the office—embraced this style of natural leadership and an evolving dynamic culture?

Jim Furyk is a master of communication.

When the topic is in his bailiwick he will speak in an open, honest and forthright manner making no excuses for poor performance or making any promises he cannot keep.

Jim Furyk knows how to reinvent and how to revitalize himself.

Clearly evident with his rise to No. 5 in the official world golf rankings after becoming the first multiple winner in 2010 with winds at the Transitions and the Verizon Heritage.

What company would not benefit from revitalization in terms of new or improved products and services?

Embracing innovation and new technology while knowing that success is not only based on technology but the dynamic sequence in leadership and culture outlined in this article.

Jim Furyk did not win at Harbour Towne playing hickory shafted golf clubs and feathery golf balls though he has respect for Willie the mascot's long nosed antique golf club.

Could he have parred the 18th hole employing a set of hickory clubs?

Undoubtedly so, but to be competitive as possible he embraces all sorts of innovation whether it is in golf equipment, how one approaches the game or how he interacts with various elements in the game of golf.

Innovation does not simply mean better technology.

It also means new and improved processes whether it is a pre-shot routine or how one communicates within an organization of 100,000 associates.

Maintaining the processes, continuously making them better will transform a company as surely as a mega-hit new product invention.

Accountability in an organization is the key to success.

But accountability in an organization with natural leadership in an evolving dynamic culture is different than what one may expect.

It is not the heavy anchor around each worker's neck with fear as the biggest motivator.

Accountability is a learning process whereby people and the organization become introspective always learning from within.

With the right corporate attitude and personal attitude, mistakes or misfortune can be a catalyst to future successes larger than ever imagined.

Again PGA TOUR players, their competition and the game of golf are a never ending source of material to be applied to develop natural leadership and an evolving dynamic culture within any organization.

Brian Davis has yet to win in 169 PGA TOUR events after his playoff loss to Furyk at the Verizon Heritage.

He will someday soon win on the PGA TOUR.


Because one can tell he has the right "approach" to the game of golf and life.

After hitting his third shot out of the hazard and contacting a reed in his backswing, he immediately raised his right hand as if to say, "I made a mistake," knowing full well the two stroke penalty would mean an immediate personal loss.

Contrast this to the manager who makes a mistake, buries it and moves the headstone so no one will associate the blunder with his personal career.

Which entity—person or organization will learn and improve from the mistake?

Brian Davis surely will and through that dynamic process will undoubtedly raise the level of his game to that of champion in the near future.

There are countless examples of experiences like this on the PGA TOUR.

What examples are there in your organization?

Accountability is a good thing for both an organization and a person within that organization.

At the end of this dynamically evolving natural leadership style and culture is what we all desire in the first place—success.

Paradoxically it is the byproduct of the system and not the system itself.

For a golfer like Jim Furyk, success is defined by 15 PGA TOUR victories, numerous Ryder and President's Cup victories and a loving family.

For an organization, success is defined by customers who are satisfied with your product and/or service and want to come back again and buy more.

It does matter how one goes about trying to achieve success for in that process, in that manner, in that way one's success is defined even before the final tally is taken.

Jim Furyk claimed victory for the Americans at Valhalla in the 2008 Ryder Cup when he closed out Miguel Angel Jimenez on the 17th green after four back nine birdies.

All he did was look Jimenez in the eye and thanked him for the fierce competition.

He knew what it felt like to be in Jimenez's shoes as he was on the other side at The Belfry in 2002 when Paul McGinley made a 10-footer to halve the match and win the Cup for the Europeans.

So leadership is experience but only if that experience is processed in an evolving dynamic manner.

For organizations, that means valuing people, practicing moral and ethical behavior in a competitive business environment, developing teamwork, communicating in several dynamic ways, having innovation in products, services and internal processes, and insuring positive learning accountability that naturally results in success.

In organizations, it is easy to tell if natural leadership and an evolving dynamic culture is present—talk to the people in the organization.

In the game of golf, talk to the caddie.  

Why do you think caddie Mike Cowan continues to hobble along in his early 60s to caddie for Furyk?

As a caddie for Tiger Woods when he won that historic Masters in 1997, hasn't he seen it all on golf courses where the world's best players compete?

"Fluff" has been looping for Furyk now for over 10 years including his 2003 U.S. Open win at Olympia Fields CC.

As a member himself at Congressional CC where the 2011 U.S. Open is scheduled to be played, maybe he wants to go out in style with Jim winning there?

That's what inspirational leadership and a dynamic enveloping culture can do for your company.

Produce loyalty, dedication and the hardest of work from each one of your associates.

Forget about "incentivizing" your employees. Why not inspire them to new heights with a natural leadership style and an enveloping dynamic culture?

Look what it has done for Jim Furyk whether or not anyone has realized how many different times and in how many different ways he has won on the PGA TOUR.

Congratulations to Jim Furyka multiple winner along with Ernie Els on the PGA TOUR in 2010!

PLEASE NOTE 1 : The first four articles in the series can be found at the following links:





PLEASE NOTE 2:  For clarification purposes this series of informative articles is NOT officially licensed with or being promoted by the PGA TOUR. "CORPORATE LEADERSHIP Inspired by The Game of Golf" is just that—an inspired type of leadership and corporate culture based on the game of golf and exemplified by golfers competing in PGA TOUR events.

Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer. He follows the PGA TOUR volunteering and working part time for NBC Sports, CBS Sports, and The Golf Channel.


He resides in Jacksonville Beach, Florida near the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.


He enjoys pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it.


He can be reached through his website www.MrHickoryGolf.net or by e-mailing him to AndyReistetter@gmail.com


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