Ahead of The Open, The Spanish pro golfer discusses applying sporting principles to business, and why inclusivity can only benefit clubs
I’m a study nerd... after a master’s in science, and a BA degree in business and administration, I’ve now found this fantastic innovation and entrepreneurship programme at the ESADE university in Barcelona. It totally fits my desire to learn how to use creative problem-solving and go from an idea, to an action, to a business.
Society is changing so much and I think that sport as a sector needs to adapt
to that... Golf, particularly, is so time-consuming, in a society that is so time- demanding – the game will definitely need to find a solution.
You do business with people you spend time with or connect with... The environment of golf is a fantastic place for people to create a business relationship. Most of the time you don’t even talk about business, because you’re focused on trying to get the little ball in the hole, but those four hours getting to know a potential client on a personal level go far in making a deal happen.
A golfer, no matter their level, is responsible for taking very quick decisions in changing environments in seconds... When you’re going to hit a shot, you’re looking at how the ball is positioned – is there a wind or not? Those are the details. You also have to think about the strategies – where do I want to go, what do I do if I miss, how aggressive am I going to be? And then an even more holistic view is, where am I in this tournament, can I take that risk, should I play safe, what’s goingto help me to get in a better position to reach my goal? You do that 70 times a day, four days in a row, for multiple tournaments in the year – it wires your brain to think in a specific way.
That mindset is crucial on a business level... taking on board so many variables
of different levels of detail, and very quickly. I compare taking a shot to finding yourself in a completely new market situation. In golf, you learn to play with your gut, and be honest about yourself – what you can do, what you can’t, what are you committed to, what can you commit to? In that way, golf relates to life on so many different levels. You get to think. There are not many sports where you get to think for such a long period of time.
I grew up playing golf with my two brothers... and on a course that was very open to women, so sexism in the sport was never something I experienced. But there is an issue with some golf courses not being open for women. I think it’s a pity because women bring a lot of fantastic values to the game.
I know Dubai well, but every year I come, there’s something new to see... This is such a growing city, and it is changing so quickly and so dramatically – the Palm didn’t exist when I first came here. Every time I come it’s like, OK, what’s new, what have I missed out on? It’s such a vibrant city, so multicultural. There are so many things you can do, you can do anything you can imagine – you just have to ask and Dubai provides.