What Golf can Teach You about Accounting

You have to be able to count in order to be able to play—oh yeah, and business. Golf and accounting are both about business culture, right? Sure, but there’s obviously a lot more to it than just that. From natural personality traits to cultivating calm in your mental life, from playing by the rules to relentlessly seeking improvement, there are all kinds of instructive connections between golf and accounting.


Meticulous Detail, Deceptively Simple Goal

Golf is like accounting in some truly fundamental ways starting with the fact that each seems like such a deceptively simple goal: Hit a ball with a stick. Record and reconcile numbers to track financial activity. And yet. For anyone who’s ever taken on either golf or accounting in any serious way can tell you, it’s never quite that simple. All the muscles in your body must come together in balance and in time with each other to achieve the desired effect. Those who are naturally attuned to the details tend to be best at both golf and accounting, and yet, it’s often the ability to not become hyper-focused or lose trust in a well-practiced system that determines long-term success. Again, it’s a lot about personality traits.


The Clubs in Your Bag

In golf, you get 14 clubs. In accounting, you’re given a number of resources from printers, computers, software, phones, tablets, filing cabinets, etc. In golf, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to carry three putters in your bag. In accounting, you can have too many competing resources for an effective system, especially when it comes to data management and software technologies. Maybe you don’t need to carry a driver and fairway woods in your bag most of the time because you typically play Par-3 courses, maybe because you’re teaching children how to play or because you’re pressed for time. In the same way, if you’re an independent accountant managing a handful of local business firms, the best club in your bag might be a low-cost accounting and payroll solution. In contrast, if you’re head of the accounting department for a sizable corporate firm, you might pitch the idea of investing in and integrating a custom payroll platform.


Improvement Through Accountability

The best accountants—and golfers—practice the art of perfectionism not just in the details but in the system itself. It’s easy to get complacent when an employer is happy with the results. On the other hand, you can only go so long before your accounting resources are outdated—especially if you don’t yet have a relationship with a software company that’s continually updating their offers. On your end, diligent data entry and tracking are essential, just as the golfer needs to focus on one shot at a time. Accounting solutions need to be continually analyzed and improved upon for error rate, on-time filing, and accounting costs to determine if and when a change is needed. Likewise, golfers need to analyze their game by more than just their round score. You should also look at fairways hit, greens in regulation, and putts—at the very least.