Last Updated Dec 1, 2010 5:21 PM EST
Last week I learned a small but very important lesson. You know those people who go around saying, "don't sweat the small stuff?" Well, that's bull. Life, business, golf -- it's all about the details.
Here's a perfect example.
Last week I played the 2nd stage of Q-School, which is a qualifying tournament for the PGA. I finished in second with a 29 on the last nine holes, for a 7 under par. I'm pretty proud of that, but this story isn't about me.
A friend of mine was playing at the same site with the same hopes of playing on the PGA Tour. He had played great all year and really had a chance to excel. Then one mental lapse completely changed his fate.
You see, when you finish the last hole of a tournament, the round isn't technically over. You have one more step: You have to sign your score card and then have an official check the score and sign off on it. Only then, can you leave the "scoring area" that's right next to the green.
Well, my friend finished his 18th hole, and was anxious to see the leaderboard to see how he measured up to the rest of the competition. He stepped into the scoring tent, thought he had finished everything he needed to do, and then took two fatal steps in the wrong direction. He had forgotten to sign his score card and he was already outside the scoring area. He suddenly realized what he had done and tried to retrace his steps. But it was all over.
Forgetting to sign his score card disqualified him from the whole tournament. It doesn't matter how well he played; next year he starts at square one.
Now, you can go on and on about the injustice of the thing. I know if it had been me, I would have been devastated. But a rule is a rule. If the tournament started to relax rules like that, it would set a precedent for relaxing other rules. If one player is allowed to bend the rule a bit, what comes next? I don't want to know.
I don't think I've ever witnessed a better example of the old clichÃ© about the need to dot your i's and cross your t's.
And I don't think I've ever been more thankful for my caddy. His attention to detail may border on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder but he'd tie me down before he'd let me step out of the tent without signing my score card. Being your own boss is all about mastering the details -- or hiring someone who will master them for you.
I want to hear your stories: Have you ever forgotten the little details at your job and screwed up big time as a result?