At the weekend I competed in the Abersoch Open golf tournament.
I can tell you’re impressed, but please don’t get too excited. And don’t worry that you’ve never heard of it – there’s a good reason for that. The Abersoch Open isn’t an event on the professional tour. Far from it. It’s the annual golfing weekend away for what might loosely be described as a golf society; or, more accurately, a bunch of blokes who get together to play golf (and have the odd drink) over a bank holiday weekend.
It all started in Abersoch, in Wales, in the mid 1980’s, hence the name. This was my fifth year as a competitor, but compared with some I’m a relative newcomer.
Don’t get me wrong though – whilst it’s not a professional tournament, the competition is intense (to put it mildly). It’s a team event (a bit like the Ryder Cup really), with the twelve participants divided into two teams, competing in pairs over three days. We play for the magnificent Abersoch Open trophy and, of course, the honour of winning such a prestigious competition. But there’s money riding on it too – the princely sum of £10 for each player on the winning team.
The banter usually begins (via e-mail) in about February, but the handicap negotiations start in earnest in April, preceded by numerous feeble excuses and attempts to justify a higher handicap than last year.
Now I’m just an occasional golfer (one of my feeble excuses this year was that I’ve only played three times since the last Abersoch Open – it wasn’t accepted by the committee). I’m not a club member these days and I don’t play in any other competitions. I play (at least in theory) for the enjoyment.
But it’s completely different at the Abersoch Open. The fact that there’s a chance to get your name on the trophy and the fact that there’s money at stake really ups the ante. It’s almost always a close run thing and you wouldn’t believe the pressure on the final day if, as is often the case, it goes down to the wire. And, just like in professional golf tournaments, there are players who can handle the pressure and players who bottle it when the going gets tough.
And that’s the point of my story, apart, of course, from sharing the sheer drama and excitement of the Abersoch Open with you – things feel very different when the pressure’s on.
In business continuity or incident management terms, it’s the realisation that it’s one thing to have a plan and to have done a desktop exercise or two, but it’s another thing entirely when we have to do it for real. So we need to understand that and we need to prepare properly (which is where the Abersoch Open analogy possibly falls down a bit!).
That means making sure we have the right people in our team and that they’re properly briefed, trained and exercised. In other words, that they’re capable and prepared, so that if and when they have to do it for real, when the pressure is likely to be intense, they’re up for and up to the job in hand.
And, by the way, just in case you’re wondering, my team came second this year. Out of two!