I’ve met Ian Poulter, albeit briefly, as a result of being a member at Woburn in the UK, where he is the playing professional and ambassador.
The aura of confidence and single-mindedness he displays means Ian might not appeal to everyone, but I like him.
That opinion is shaped by my limited knowledge of his background, the work I know he does for junior golf and charities and conversations I’ve had with people that know him far better than me.
By contrast, I’ve also endured a lot of BS about Ian from people who display nothing but envy.
Poulter is 39 years old. He turned professional in 1996 when his handicap was four and he was a good club golfer but, arguably, nothing special.
But Poulter had a dream: to make a success of his life and prove his teachers wrong.
“All my life I’ve been told I’d never amount to anything,” he said. “That was always the message from my teachers at school. I wanted to be a footballer but that didn’t work out either. But, yeah, I just love proving people wrong. It gives me the motivation to succeed.”
Teachers take note — you make or break our leaders of tomorrow.
With no amateur career to speak of, Poulter pursued his dream of being a successful tour pro. He was an assistant professional at Chesfield Downs, a modest club where, it seems, he received little encouragement.
I’m sure Poulter’s self-belief wasn’t unshakable — we all have bad days. But it was undoubtedly stronger than most – as he has proved so spectacularly.
Now, when kids and adults alike look at Poulter, what do they see?
That’s for them to answer. What I see is a self-made man in the truest sense of the word.
Not only has Poulter worked his bum off to get his game to a level where he competes with the best in one of the most competitive sports in the world, he’s done so with a metaphorical foot on his head trying to keep him down.
His persona is not an accident, in my view. He’s made some excellent strategic marketing decisions that ensure he remains at the forefront of golfing news.
People ridiculed the remark he made about his ability (there’s that collective metaphorical foot again) when he told Golf World (UK) in March 2008:
“Don’t get me wrong, I really respect every professional golfer, but I know I haven’t played to my full potential and when that happens, it will be just me and Tiger.”
Was it hype or did he mean it? I hope it was both!
Over the years we’ve seen Poulter the golfer, marketer and, through his junior golf and charitable works, the philanthropist.
Always a snappy and trendy dresser, Poulter created IJP Design several years ago and launched a clothing range every bit as controversial, and to a great extent retro, as he is. Enter Poulter the entrepreneur.
All of which makes him appear a magical blend of Doug Sanders, Richard Branson, Donald Trump and Paul Getty.
Add to this the fact that Poulter actually has a wonderful family, spending as much time as he can with his wife and their four children. Enter Ian Poulter the family man.
Undoubtedly, Poulter has a great team around him. No one person could manage everything that goes on his life. So we can now add ‘time management’ and ‘delegation’ to his skill set. Stand up Ian Poulter the CEO!
Furthermore, while Poulter was one of Europe’s 12 sporting heroes in the Ryder Cup at Medinah, he was acknowledged by his teammates as the Leader — someone who thrives on pressure; the aggressive home supporters unwittingly his driving force. Someone should have warned them not to put a metaphorical foot on his head!
The lesson: When you think you can’t, think of Ian Poulter.