The Open began on Thursday and with several British players ranked highly in the world, this years event at Royal St George’s looks likely to be another event with much home interest. Throw in £900,000 for first prize and an overall sum of £5m to be shared between those that make the cut and you will quickly appreciate how the odd stroke here or there can make a significant impact on your pocket. Sadly, I am a very poor golfer. Golf can teach numerous lessons for life, for me, I’m always impressed by elite sports people that seem to be able to hold their nerve just at the right time. Invariably there is very little between the majority of players, but those that excel or become “greats” are those that have mastered focus. They don’t appear to be bothered about the prize money, but about performing to their best ability, pursuit of the prize is naturally within their thoughts, but the masters know that the game is played over 4 days, often in very different conditions and with different partners. Winners tend to be those that make the fewest mistakes in golf, but also willing to take some weighed up chances.
To many, golf can seem like a silly game, hitting a tiny ball with a stick towards a hole not much larger than a coffee mug. To a golfer, it is a personal delight and constant challenge. Success is easily forgotten when disaster strikes, but as with most elite performers, the ability to learn and recover from set-backs tends to be what propels them towards continued success.
As with most sports, those that practice effectively tend to do well. Whilst attention is drawn to a 4-day competition like the Open, in reality many hours of training and tweaking are put in. Most golfers have a coach, which is worth reflecting on – why does someone at the “top of their game” need a coach?… perhaps this is what helps them stay at the top of their game. Financial planning is no different. A good financial planner is much like a coach, just because you may be “successful” does not disqualify you from benefiting from expert tuition and counsel. Making or earning money may be a “normal” activity, but I have yet to meet anyone that I could not help improve their game.
Ben Crenshaw once said “I’m about five inches from being an outstanding golfer. That’s the distance my left ear is from my right”. Another great golfer Tom Watson said “if you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate”. I also believe that he said “Its funny, the more I practice, the luckier I get”. Often we marvel a great sporting success, yet fail to apply the life lessons that are offered up. When it comes to investing or managing your money, this takes time and practice to get right.
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