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The Tie Between Golfers and Data


I read, with great interest, the trailing article from the Wall Street Journal, this week - Golfers Join the Rest of World, Use Data

Any time I see an article on golf, I have to read it and the same is true with any article on using data to improve measurable activities. In this article, I see a clear intersection between my favorite pastime, golf, and my profession, risk management. In this instance, the glue that holds these together is the application of data to player improvement of their golf game. 

A key point in the article, in my view, is the use of data collected by the PGA “Shot Link” system, and other data as well, to give professional players a competitive advantage in tournament play.  Several players are using their data not only to help them fine-tune their skills, but to refine strategy of play and even decide which tournaments to play or avoid, based on the way the courses match or conflict with their strengths and styles of play.

Taking this use of data to the practice of risk management, there are a couple of parallels. First, golfers and risk managers have collected data for years, but have been slow to adopt their information to forward-planning programs and activities. Secondly, golfers and risk managers are evolving the application of data to understand risk and reward of their activities in such a way that they can better execute their objectives.

In both instances, the data is available, it has just taken some time for thoughtful users to gain an understanding of how to apply the data in a creative manner. For a number of the golfers mentioned in the article, outside consultants are used to help them apply the information that “Shot Link” delivers to them.  We see the same with some risk managers, who know that they have the data that they need, but lack the experience or background to bring it to life.  Over the next generation, for both golfers and risk managers, the consultants will give way to improved analytical tools and real-life experience to permit the end-user to become their own data steward.

As a safety and risk management professional, I have used data as a method to prove hypotheses and to plan programs throughout my career.  As the tools got better and better, so did our analysis work, and so did our programs. As a golfer, my data analysis has not been quite so helpful; I now know that I can’t hit a driver, play from the fairways or sand, and I putt poorly. I guess I will always be a better risk manager than a golfer. How about you?

Jeff_Gehrke_headshot.jpgJeff Gehrke is Ventiv's Chief Risk Technology Evangelist. Contact Jeff at Jeff.Gehrke@ventivtech.com or ++1.720.445.9531. Connect with Jeff on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffjgehrke 



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May 20, 2016

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