Teeing Off Your Change: The Similarities Between Change Management Projects and Golf


As summer rolls around, many people begin to take part in their favorite hobbies. A popular one, is the game of golf. As I was playing a round earlier this month, I began to think of how similar golf is to the change management projects we deliver. Like a golf swing, a project takes a long time to perfect. Even after you think you have a flawless plan created; things can go wrong, just like a poor shot or bounce on the golf course. What better time, than just off the completion of the prestigious U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, to show you just how alike change management projects and golf can be.


When you look at a golf course you realize most of the holes are quite straight. You may think a course looks easy because there is nothing standing between the tee box (the beginning of the project) and the hole (your project’s go-live/finish date). Just like a project timeline, when you see the start, all the way to the go-live (and the tasks between), you have everything laid out, showing you what tasks to do, and when to do them. This initially looks clear, but each task has underlying steps that need to be completed, like the shots you make in golf, on the way to the finish.


Before a project begins, time is required for setting up the project timeline. You are working to refine a schedule, that if followed correctly and on time will lead you to your go-live date. However, this would be like hitting every shot straight, on every single hole. Which is possible, but not probable.

When the project begins, the end user needs to consider many different variables before starting a task, such as:

  • Where do I start?

  • Who do I talk to?

  • What needs to be done, to get me from start to finish?

Just like a golfer factors in which club to hit, the wind direction, and where to hit the ball before each shot.

However, once the ball is moving, things can go wrong, a bad shot can happen, the wind can change, or your ball can take a bad bounce and then the “easy hole” isn’t so easy anymore.


Like a project, as you move through your timeline and tasks, additional tasks appear, which need to be completed. These tasks were not designed to fit in the plan before, so space needs to be made. Like in golf, when you hit a bad shot and realize there is now a new obstacle in your way that was not there on the previous shot, such as a tree, water, or a sand trap. In a project you then evaluate what needs to be done to complete the new tasks in the most efficient and accurate way possible, just like a golfer decides how to get around the obstacle and finish the hole in the least number of shots.

Now that’s just a single task during a project. Imagine each task needed to reach your go-live is a hole on the golf course. You have a lot of work to do. No two holes or tasks are the same, and there is no correct way to complete each hole or task. You follow your plan as close as possible and then adjust when needed to deliver the end goal.

Change projects and golf can appear simple from a theoretical viewpoint. However, once they are ongoing, multiple adjustments often need to be made quickly and correctly. If you think every project will go perfectly, like playing each hole down the middle, on the green, and in the hole; you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. That is not to scare you away. Success is possible. Having the proper preparation, mindset, and the ability to adapt will be necessary in order to not hit your next project “out-of-bounds".

Unsure about your plan of attack for your next project? Want to hear the advice of experts who can show you the right direction (“Change Caddies” so to speak)? Reach out! The team here at Ignite can help you get on the right path and on your way to successful projects. Golf lessons sold separately.