Financial Planning is like Golf

Financial Planning is like Golf

May 17, 2022
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Golf—a game of inches indeed

One where you can get teed

And still have fun

If it’s fun you need


Measured in yards from tee to green

Measured in decibels when you scream

“FORE” right or left, it all depends

Where the ball decides to end


I have played golf for over 50 years, on and off. It is the most addictive pursuit, in my experience. It does not matter how well, or poorly, you play, you still want to return and try again.

“Don’t play too much golf. Two rounds a day are plenty.” —Harry Vardon

Golf started in Scotland. The locals carved a course out of the gorse in the links area, the sand hills next to the sea. It became so popular that King James II of Scotland banned it in 1457. The ban was lifted in 1502, by James IV and the game took off in popularity.

It is hard to imagine playing golf with clubs that were little more than flat pieces of steel tied to a relatively straight stick. Even in the 1940s and 50s, club makers would sand down the shafts of clubs to change the weight and flex.

“Golf… is the infallible test. The man who can go into a patch of rough alone,

with the knowledge that only God is watching him, and play his ball where it lies,

is the man who will serve you faithfully and well.” —P. G. Wodehouse

Golf is the only sport where you call penalties on yourself. Cheating in golf is frowned upon, yet also pretty common in the recreational ranks. The breakfast ball, first tee shot of the day do-over. The mulligan, another do-over. The foot wedge, kicking the ball to a more favorable position—the preferred lie where a ball is rolled to a better spot. The irony of utilizing any of these options only changes the score on the card, not in your memory. When you play in a tournament, none of these score-enhancing techniques are available and will get you disqualified if implemented.

A golfer must be very precise in the execution of each shot to achieve a good score. Even the slightest miscalculation, an error of one degree in aim can spell doom. If you are hitting a 100-yard shot and you are off by one degree, the ball will be 5.2 feet off course. Not a lot, but perhaps enough to catch a sand trap or bounce off the edge of the green and run away.

“It took me seventeen years to get three thousand hits in baseball.

It took one afternoon on the golf course.” —Hank Aaron

Errors add up quickly. A golfer must continually try again. Even the professionals cannot hit the ball perfectly every time. The attitude has to be “Hit it, go find it, and hit it again!” You cannot let a past mistake linger in your mind or it will influence the next shot. You know how to hit it. You have trained and practiced but the last time one of the hundreds of things that can go wrong went wrong. Forget that and hit it again.

“Golf is about how well you accept, respond to, and score with your misses

much more so than it is a game of your perfect shots.” —Dr. Bob Rotella

With all that said, a gust of wind, slippery footing, or a random noise behind you can send your perfect shot careening into a pond, a bunker, or the woods. Unforeseen and unaccountable, yet your only recourse is to go find it and hit it again (presuming it is hittable).

So how is golf like financial planning? No matter how well we plan, no matter how great our software or our insight into the markets, something will inevitably change the calculus. We know how to plan. When we deliver a plan, it is perfect. It is the day after we deliver the plan that everything can change.

We have had two years of remarkable change. Too many changes to innumerate here. How is your financial plan? If you would like us to take a look, please give me a call.

Adron Krekeler


Listen: That Golf Song by Duff Daddy