Arnie’s Good Choices, Tiger’s Bad Choices and a Hero at The Masters

My first trip to this iconic tournament was terrific! I thoroughly enjoyed the Wednesday practice round at the 2012 Masters in Augusta where the weather was beautiful (until 3:30 p.m.), walking the course for the first time was unbelievable, and the Augusta National business model was making the sounds of peak performance. If you’re not familiar with the rich traditions and world famous course, check out my short photo essay here.

It was also interesting to encounter three different leaders whose choices have made a significant impact on their industry, their personal lives and the world.

Arnold Palmer – We caught up with the legend himself, nicknamed “The King”, sitting in the shade in his well earned Green Jacket. Arnie played in the Masters his first time in 1955, won his first of four in 1958 and played in 50 consecutive Masters tournaments. He still shows up annually at the Masters to serve as one of the honorary pros, along with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, to start the tournament off by playing the Par 3 tournament on Wednesday and launching a ceremonial tee shot at the opening round on Thursday. The positive impact on his industry from his choices as a leader are indisputable.

During his career:

  • A wildly successful pro golfer
  • His personality and large fan base (Arnie’s Army) is largely credited with bringing golf to television.
  • He was the first in his profession to earn a million dollars in one season.

After retiring:

  • He owns Bay Hill Club, the venue for the Bay Hill Invitational
  • He helped to found the Golf Channel
  • He negotiated a deal to build the first golf course in The People’s Republic of China

Tiger Woods – Undoubtedly one of the best golfers in the history of the game. He turned pro in 1996 and one year later won his first major – The Masters. Since then, he has been the world number one the most consecutive weeks and the most total weeks; more than any other golfer. He has been awarded PGA Player of the Year a record 10 times. He has the record for leading the money list – 9 different seasons. He is the youngest player ever to win the Grand Slam and the youngest and fastest to win 50 tournaments on the tour. But Tiger’s personal choices as a leader have had a significant negative impact on himself, those around him and his industry.

  • In late 2009 and early 2010, news broke of Tiger’s choices leading to personal problems and infidelity which later resulted divorce.
  • In February, 2010, Woods apologized to the world saying, “I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to… I felt I worked hard my whole life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me.”
  • Accenture, Gatorade, General Motors, Tag Heuer, Gillette, and Golf Digest all dropped or indefinitely suspended their sponsorships with Tiger.
  • A December 2009 study estimated the shareholder loss caused by Woods’ affairs to be between $5 billion and $12 billion.

Sgt. Jay Fain – On Wednesday, the last practice day before the Masters tournament begins, there’s a Par 3 championship for Masters pros who choose to participate. It’s a fun event featuring not only some of the pros who are going to compete the next day in the Masters tournament, but also some of the returning, retired winners like Palmer, Nicklaus and Player. Each participant is able and even encouraged to select anyone they want to caddie for them. Most of them choose their wives, children and/or friends. Zach Johnson had his wife and four little kids along. Tom Watson chose Sgt. Jay Fain to be part of his caddie crew. Sgt. Fain is a terrific, visible example of selfless choices as a leader.

  • Sgt. Fain from Columbia, SC served as a leader in the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment in Iraq.
  • He was struck by an “explosively formed penetrator” sustaining internal injuries, burns to his body and the amputation of his right leg.
  • He later returned to Iraq as part of “Operation Proper Exit” aimed at helping soldiers find emotional closure after being severely injured.
  • As a veteran, he is an active member of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association.
  • He launched a powerful golf shot off the 9th tee in the Par 3 championship last week at the Masters.

The choices you make really do define the leader you become. And the choices you make are not just about you. They’re about the positive impact you can have on your organization, your community and beyond. Our world needs everyday leaders who will choose to make it a better place.

Added Note:

That’s what Chick-fil-A® Leadercast® is all about. On May 4, 2012 you will be inspired with life-changing insights from world-renowned leaders. This one of a kind event will be broadcast live from Atlanta and simulcast around the world including the auditorium at American Family Insurance. Join more than 125,000 leaders from around the world and make positive choices that matter. Go here for local information.