Nicole Hage High Risk?
So, an LPGA player comes out of Auburn University, makes it clear beyond the shadow of a doubt that she knows how to play this game, qualifies for the LPGA, plays for six or seven years, and realizes that “hey, this isn’t for me,” and leaves the tour.
There’s nothing too disturbing about that. It’s the kind of thing that happens to good people in life, who come to the conclusion that they’re in the wrong place, see something they’d rather do, a place they’d rather be, or that it just isn’t working out for one reason or the other. Such is the case with golfer Nicole Hage. Fellow golfers couldn’t explain why her excellent shot-making on the range didn’t automatically translate to the course, but that’s another story. The story is that Nicole Hage has a job doing something else, and she likes it.
In six years, Hage amassed a total career earning record of around $74,000 – ouch. It’s hard to pay the rent that way, and it’s expensive to be out there on tour. She would have been buried alive under debt, had she not had the gift for collecting sponsors. During one stretch of those years, she sat a lot as an alternate, bleeding money, wasting time and not playing much golf. Finally, after failing to regain her card on five tries, she qualified for the Ricoh British Open, and chose the event as her swan song.
There’s nothing the matter with Nicole Hage. She played good golf and didn’t exhibit any untoward behavior while on tour. She was on time, ready to play, no incapacitating off-course issues – smart, engaging, reliable. However, she couldn’t get a job, because all she’d done is play golf. In her words, lacking experience made her “high risk.”
The tour has been described as a bubble, but really, any profession can become that way, especially a touring one. In a larger sense, the corporation hiring process points out what a bubble big business can become, and employers have become like people behind the MacDonalds counter – if there isn’t a button for it on the pad, it can’t be done. Your resume says this and this, but even though it’s obvious that you’re such and such, we can’t use you.
If employers somewhere down the ladder really had the power to assess a potential employee, they would, perhaps, exercise some daring and think for themselves, thoughts like “Ok, this person showed up every morning to put this game together, went through and excelled at a respected university, fought her way into Q school for the major leagues in her sport, showed up and did the work – and now she’s sitting in front of me with her smarts, her head on straight and a record of reliability – looks good to me. When can you start?”
Not so – corporate business is every bit as susceptible to the Macdonalds pad as the restaurant itself. However much we extoll non-conformity, it’s the kiss of death in cubicle heaven, where the leaden-brained and the oxen-eyed approach requires a specific look and background, and your obvious qualities are not obvious to your interviewer.
In the end, commissioner Whan helped Hage find a spot. She loves it so much, she’s there too early, and is glad to be free of the bubble. I believe that her employer is and will continue to be glad she’s there.
The point is this – if a person has spent almost a decade in a sport like golf, with its high standards and requirements for success, that’s the kind of person I want to hire. It’s a perfect statement. I’d rather train a person with Hage’s natural gifts than watch over a less-gifted desk-occupier who pushed all the right buttons to get there. The big stage, whatever it is, can be wonderful, or it can be personally oppressive and weighty for a good life. Each person who stands on it can decide whether to stay, but if they don’t, it’s a great character reference for hiring – somebody probably got lucky hiring Nicole Hage, because they got that.