Why Being a Designer is Like Top Golf

Owner/Creative Director
Molly’s extensive background in marketing, print and design allows her to bring an interesting, creative perspective to her writing. She loves sharing her knowledge on topics such as business, design trends, and marketing tactics.

Perhaps it’s the fact that a new Top Golf location is going up not four blocks away from my new apartment, but I’ve been thinking about how much what we do compares to the game of golf, well, Top Golf.

My first time going to a Top Golf wasn’t until moving back to Colorado. But by the first swing of the 4 iron, I was hooked. If you’ve never been to a Top Golf (or haven’t heard of it), it’s where entertainment and sports meet. And, if you know me—it makes sense why I like it. 

The idea is that you’re assigned a “bay” on one of the three floors of an open ended building where you hit golf balls into “targets” until your hands turn raw. Each target is fairly large and color coded for a certain number of points. There are a ton of games to choose from but I usually just opt for the “if my ball goes in ANY hole, just give me some points for it” game. 

Using the picture (courtesy of the Top Golf game guide) below, I’ve made some conclusions about how Top Golf compares to being a designer.

You need to know the fundamentals first.
Before we even look at that image above, you’re not getting a ball in anything if you don’t know the fundamentals first. How to hold the club, where to position your feet, how to connect the club with the ball and, most of all, how to read the conditions all take a ton of practice.

Design isn’t any different. It’s entirely based on fundamentals. We have to rely on years of professional training for composition, color theory, layout structure, typesetting, balance, trends, alignment, proximity, contrast and, not to mention, knowing how to use anywhere from 2 to 5+ Adobe CC apps at once. If we throw web design and development into this conversation (another service we provide), double (or triple) the skillsets above when dealing with responsive screens and proper UI/UX design. (Oh, and knowing a minimum of TWO coding languages.)

You won’t always be top score.
No matter how much you want to, you won’t win every game. (Sometimes because the microchips within the ball don’t always register. At least that’s what I tell myself.) Welcome to the life of sports!

In design, it’s important to understand that you might not always be the designer for the job. Whether it’s a lost bid, or the work requires something outside your skillset, it’s ok to trade in your driver for a sand wedge. The client and their project needs to come first so make sure you’re leading them in the right direction, even if that’s not with you standing at the tee box.

You’re not going to hit the back netting every time, but you should always swing for it.
There have been many times where I swung for the back netting and ended up in the blue 150-yard targets. My intention was to go for gold (well in this case white) and I landed in the blue instead.

It’s our professional duty as designers to provide the client our best work. That’s always the goal. But hitting the “white target” at 185 yards isn’t as easy as it looks and to do it consistently is even harder. As a designer, you may not get a “hole-in-one” with each client presentation, but even then, you can work with the design, and the client, to land some where pretty darn close.

Choosing the right club can pay off big.
At Top Golf, I typically stay away from using the drivers, mostly because I slice the sh*t out of the ball more often than not. I know my “go-to” clubs when I need accuracy for points. For me, that’s my 4 iron and I trust it every time. Especially when I need that “come from behind win”.

Being a designer can mean long hours and tight deadlines, but trusting your expertise and skills can pay off big. It’s important to understand the way you work best, especially under pressure. Whether it’s selecting your go-to font pairings, current color schemes, paper or printing methods like blind embossing, trusting your design instincts is what got you here in the first place. Trust them when you need them most.

Sometimes going just for the food and beer is okay. 
Golf just may not be your thing. And in that case, order a Corona and some wings.  

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