There’s a million different ways to do it but, at the end of the day, golf really is all about getting the ball in the cup. It doesn’t matter how you do it or what it looks like.
I’ve been playing more and more golf over the years and getting better and better along the way. Naturally, as an advisor, there’s a few key lessons you can learn from golf that tie in directly to successful personal financial management.
A very important lesson to learn early on in golf is that it’s RARELY the equipment’s fault if you play poorly. If you don’t know how to swing a golf club properly, it doesn’t matter if you’re swinging a $500 club or a $35 club. Going out and buying the most expensive, brand new, state-of-the-art golf equipment isn’t going to change the fact that you haven’t grasped the basics of the game.
Can you have success swinging the very best clubs money can buy? Absolutely. Can you have success swinging the same generic brand clubs you’ve been playing with for years? Again, absolutely.
What’s most important are the habits of the person swinging the club, not how much that club costs.
There will ALWAYS be a new brand claiming to have the latest and greatest technology in “maximizing driving distance and efficiency” or some other gimmick. You don’t NEED it.
The same thing goes for your finances. If you don’t understand the very basics of personal finance and money management, the best vehicles and products in the world won’t help bad behavior.
Can you have success using strategies and accounts with all of the bells and whistles imaginable? Sure. Can you also have success using plain vanilla strategies and keeping things very basic? Absolutely.
What’s most important is the individual’s behavior and not necessarily what the elaborate strategies they use are.
Similar to golf equipment, there will always be financial salespeople pitching you on the “biggest and best” new strategies that you HAVE to take advantage of. You don’t need it.
On the Course
When you’re on the golf course, A LOT can go wrong. Trust me. When I was playing with my brother Casey one day, he said that being good at golf is really all about “damage control”. It’s all about making the least amount of mistakes possible. Let’s face it. You’re going to hit bad shots. Even the professionals do. What sets good golfers apart from bad golfers is minimizing those mistakes.
The same could not be more true in finance. There will be mistakes along the way. The most important thing you can do is to try and minimize those mistakes, and not let them you completely off track.
Every professional golfer goes into a round with a game plan. They’re constantly trying to make the next shot easier by thinking through where and how to hit the current shot. You should approach your financial decisions the same way. Each decision will be easier if you think through all of the options BEFORE you “hit the ball”.
Mulligans don’t exist in the financial world.
I think one of the most important lessons for me to learn on the golf course is that swinging harder does not equal better shots. When I was learning to golf, I thought in order to hit the ball as far as I could I had to swing as hard as possible. That worked for me about 1 in every 15 shots. The other 14 were never seen again.
Keeping the ball in play, hitting the ball straight and playing smart golf meant reigning in my swing and staying under control. To use a baseball analogy, I didn’t need to hit a home-run every time I stepped up to the plate. Just doing the little things right was enough to make me a significantly better golfer.
You guessed it, the same is true with your money. You don’t need to try and drive the ball 350 yards every time. Sometimes laying up is the smarter move. Making sound, smart, methodical decisions with your money and sticking with the game plan will benefit you more than rolling the dice on some crazy, risky investment idea.
Practice makes perfect
I will say this: if you’re going to splurge on anything when it comes to golf – splurge on LESSONS! Working with a golf professional is a great way to master your swing and get the basics down before you hit the course. The same thing goes for financial planning. Working with a planner is a great way to make sure you have the basics of money management under your belt before you start making big moves with your finances.