You can always tell when spring is in the air as the azaleas, the pink dogwoods and the magnolias stretch forth to let you know golf is ready to host its first Major. This year is no different as both the PGA and LIV Golf Tours will send those who qualify to one of golf’s biggest stages, “The Masters” during April.

Many of you may not know, but there are currently 19 different ways to get an official invite to one of golf’s biggest stages. What if I told you, it’s a numbers game just like ours at Associated Food Stores? Hesitant? Let me explain just a few ways the invitation is extended:

  • Master’s Champion, (Carries a lifetime Invitation)
  • Current Olympic Gold Medal Medalist, (one spot only for the year of the Olympics)
  • Fifty golfers get in by their “Official World Rank” (at the end of the last calendar year 2022)
  • Current U.S. Amateur and British Champion, (comprising of two players)

So, how do you make it to one of these coveted spots in golf? You must win, play well week after week, and most of all…manage your output. In simple terms, you manage your numbers! The average PGA Tour Player will manage 25-35 different number combinations.

Here are a few numbers golfers consider:

  • Carry Distance: exactly how far each club in the bag goes
  • Swing Speed: how fast the golf club is traveling when it hits the ball
  • Ball Speed: how fast the ball is traveling just after impact
  • Spin Rate: the speed the golf ball spins on its axis during flight

There are others including:

  • Greens In Regulation
  • Strokes Gained Putting
  • Fairways in Regulations

In golf, there are more numbers and data than you could imagine. In fact, the PGA of America makes their data available to all “Touring Professionals” upon request.  Here’s the caveat, every single touring professional knows their numbers inside and out.

You don’t simply get to show up, peg up a ball, play golf and expect to win. Or, for that matter, make millions of dollars in endorsements and play on golf’s biggest stage without knowing and understanding your numbers and striving for improvements every day, week, and year. Touring professionals pay attention to their numbers, or they’re not still active on the PGA Tour.

In today’s ever-changing supermarket environment, it’s not about showing up and just putting out things for people to buy. We must constantly challenge ourselves and our teams on how we merchandise, take advantage of new trends, new foods, new techniques in preparation, etc. Most of all, we must understand the numbers of the business we operate. Our numbers include sales, labor, gross margin, and most of all, contribution to net.

Taking your gross margin dollars (which has always been the true amount of money we have made in a department or store for any given period of time) and subtracting our labor dollars (which is our most controllable expense), allows us to realize our true contribution to net for every department, or the store we operate. The departments or stores that contribute at a higher level to our bottom line are those that are improving their numbers daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly. This is a simple way of using basic math to determine our success!

If you look back to the 1990s in golf, a young man came forward and changed the game forever just by being in top physical shape. Tiger Woods won at will and no one stopped him until everyone saw what he was doing and got on board.

Our business has changed dramatically as well. We have eCommerce, self-checkout, delivery, pick-up, Shipt, and Skip to name a few. All these platforms are ways to enhance how we go to business and how we make money. All our tools, when we use them effectively, contribute to the bottom line. Regardless of your area of expertise, each of you likely has measurements you track to understand if you’re winning. What we often learn is the numbers guide us back to the very basics of our business and mathematics we learned in grade school (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). Understanding these fundamentals allows us to identify opportunities for improvement.

My challenge for all of us is to keep investing in the basics of our business and understand and use the numbers necessary, so we can truly know when we’re winning and how we can improve now and in the future.

Keep it in the fairway!