Pin-seeker Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2008

For many executives, the golf course is a sacred escape from the stresses of corporate life. For Don Padgett III, the golf course is corporate life.

Not that the Akron native minds. As executive director of the World Golf Championships — Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, Padgett enjoys the work as much as a fairway junkie enjoys an afternoon on the back nine. It’s just that his time on the links is a bit more chaotic than that of your average foursome.

“We have approximately 80,000 people that come out to the course during [tournament] week,” says Padgett, whose father served as Firestone Country Club’s general manager for more than two decades. “Add to that 75 of the world’s best golfers, and there’s always things that you’re looking for on the radar screen.”

To ensure that the event goes as smoothly as Tiger Woods’ swing, Padgett never hesitates to step back and reassess a situation, ensuring that he makes the best possible decisions while managing four full-time employees and 1,000 volunteers.

Smart Business spoke with Padgett about how a to-do list can give you extra clarity in times of chaos and how to get everyone on the same page.

Step back and prioritize. You have to constantly prioritize what needs to be done and what the most important thing is to knock out. [It’s being able to] roll with the punches and then being able to wait to hit on a curveball.

They’re not always fast balls. You’re going to get some curve-balls and some changeups, and you’ve got to learn to be flexible and adjust.

Just always make sure you take time to take a step back and look at things. Take some time in the morning and sit down and just make a [to-do] list, and look at that rather than just jumping right in and going at it with your nose to the grindstone. Take that five or 10 minutes.

I always look at it and say, ‘Here’s what I’ve got to get done for the day. Here’s what I’d like to get done for the week.’ That changes on a daily basis, but I usually start my day out like that. We always have a Monday morning meeting, and we go over it there, as well.

We do an annual calendar. There are things that you do each year that you can put on that annual calendar. When we look at that each week, sometimes it might vary a little bit, but then you know you have that on your tickler list to do either that week or that month, and you make sure that everything gets knocked out and falls into place.

It helps you to stay on top of things. Nothing gets overlooked if you take a couple steps back.

Get all the information you can before making big decisions. You’ve got to make timely decisions, but you’ve got to be methodical at times, too.

You’ve always got to think, ‘Is this something that I can make the call on my own, or do I need to consult my staff and involve them so I don’t paint them into a corner?’ If it’s something in their specific area, I usually consult with them before I give a timely answer 100 percent back to somebody.

If there’s something or some detail that you didn’t quite consider or weren’t fully aware of the impact that it might have, you wouldn’t want to make a rash decision and then not have thought about the whole complexity of the issue.

Trust your employees. If I give somebody something on Monday, they’ll usually come back to me and let me know their progress on it. If it’s not completed, we usually address it the next Monday, and they tell me where they are and when they think it will be done.

You’ve just got to rely on them to come back to you. When you have good people and reliable people, usually when I send something off to them, I put almost all of the responsibility for getting that done with them. It’s not as top-of-mind to me because I know that they’re going to follow up and either get it done, or if they’re having issues getting it done, they’ll come back to me and we’ll work through it.

It helps a lot when they know that you have confidence in them that they’re going to do a good job.

Get everyone on the same page. You very much got to make sure you have a strong staff and that you’re all on the same page. We always have Monday morning staff meetings to let everybody know what everybody’s working on.

We look at what everybody on the team has on their plate. Although many tasks would obviously fall in certain areas for that staff, a lot of times in that Monday meeting, if that person, for whatever reason that particular time of year is inundated, we figure out as a team how we’re going to get that accomplished.

It’s crucial that (we) are all on the same page and disseminating that information to the volunteers. We do a quarterly newsletter throughout the year, and we do a daily newsletter throughout the event.

People like to know what’s going on, and they like the inside track. They like to be in the middle of everything. Let them know the interesting tidbits and what’s going on with everything. Make them feel like the essential part of the event that they are.

HOW TO REACH: World Golf Championships — Bridgestone Invitational, (877) 942-4849 or www.worldgolfchampionships.com