People like us who love golf will tell you they love the challenge, they love the fresh air, and the relaxed pace a round of golf offers. While golf and investing might seem like opposite activities, they actually share a LOT of similarities. If you can improve at one, it’s likely you can improve at the other. All it takes is a little….practice.
- It takes time to develop the skills. Becoming a good golfer requires a lot of effort and time. All of that time at the driving range helps. So does becoming a skilled investor.
- Both golf and investing require expert instruction to reach your potential. Even the best golfers have a coach that they work with. You might not hire expert instruction directly for your investments, but you can purchase books, subscribe to blogs, podcasts, and other sources of information.
- It’s easy to get into trouble quickly. One golf shot into the water or out of bounds can be disastrous. One poor investment might not destroy your portfolio, but it can come close if you don’t handle the mistake quickly and properly.
- To be successful, it’s important to focus your thoughts. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thoughtful and intelligent. It means that emotions can force you to make poor decisions. Nearly all investors have made at least one terrible financial decision from an emotional purchase.
- Be patient. Quickly made decisions are quite often poor decisions. Take the necessary time to make a good decision. Rushing a golf shot rarely turns out well. Jumping to conclusions about an investment leads to very similar results.
- Fancy tools are not the answer. Golf technology improves by leaps and bounds each year. Courses that held professional tournaments in the past are frequently too short for the great new clubs and balls. That being said, the average player doesn’t seem to improve his score even WITH all of the advanced technology. Investing theories, tools, and software get more sophisticated each year, too. All of these fancy tools have never been shown to improve the results of the average investor.
- Short-term results are not always an indicator of long-term results. One great shot doesn’t mean you’re suddenly a great golfer. One horrible game doesn’t suddenly mean that you’re a horrible golfer. Just because a stock has gone up 10 times in the last several years doesn’t mean it can’t go even higher!
- It’s always about risk management. The best golfers are great at hitting the ball, staying cool, and managing risk on the course. It’s not always easy to decide whether to lay-up or to go for the flag. Risk is a significant part of investing, too.
- Casual advice is often bad advice. Every golfer has had a friend, stranger, or playing companion provide advice on his swing. The casual investing advice from a well-meaning friend is about as useful. If you’re going to take advice, be sure to take it from a real expert!
- Know exactly where you want to go. If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you end up in a good place? Each shot on the golf course requires a target. This target is chosen based on the obstacles and the location of the hole. Your investing must have a target as well. Ask yourself “what are your investing goals?”
Golf and investing might not seem to have a lot in common at first glance, but they actually do share many similarities. The same ideas that allow a golfer to become great will allow an investor to do the same. Planning, patience, and expert instruction are a great way to improve your odds of success.