COLUMN: Take a lesson (or two) from golf when it comes to investing

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Golf is a good walk spoiled. This was coined by Samuel Langhorne Clemens or, as you may know him, Mark Twain.

I’d have to agree with Mr. Twain. I’d take it a few steps further.

Golf is a good walk tortured and killed in the most excruciating fashion possible — and that sums up the first month in my endeavor to learn this ridiculous game.

I’ve “played” golf before in my life, but never with any earnest or consistency. I’ll participate in a couple scrambles each year for work or community events. That’s been the extent of it.

Never have I played regularly with any design on getting better.

For some reason (and for the life of me, I still don’t know it), this year I set out to learn this game. I got some decent sticks. I joined a league. I go to the range. The whole shebang.

And never have I experienced such regular misery.

If I run, lift weights, hike, bike – I leave feeling good every time. I’ve yet to leave a golf course happy. Is this game an exercise in self-masochism? If it is, then I have mastered it.

This is not to say that I haven’t learned or gained anything. I can find value and lessons in even the most miserable of experiences – and this has certainly been that.

I’ve met some good guys. I’ve reconnected and gotten together with some friends I haven’t seen in a while. I’ve made them all feel much better about their own games after playing with me – I’m a giver like that.

And I’ve noticed some remarkable similarities to investing.

You might think, after this year’s volatility, that I’m speaking about the misery but no, it goes well beyond that.

Consistency

From what I can tell, the guys who end the round with the best scores aren’t doing it with a few monster drives off the tee or a couple long putts. They are hitting quality shots relatively consistently throughout the round.

The same goes with investing. A consistent, day-in, day-out approach with a portfolio that is comprised of quality investments and properly diversified – gets you to the end goal.

Emotion

This is a game where, to quote Ted Lasso, you need to be a goldfish and have a 10-second memory. If you blow a shot or a hole, you have to forget it and move on. Focus on the basics and get back to work. Investing is like that as well. There will be awful days in the market – but they don’t determine the end-result. It’s often when you panic and overreact to the bad, that you can do permanent damage to your portfolio.

Fundamentals

It’s pretty darn hard to just jump in and be any good at this game. At some point, you need someone who is qualified to teach you the fundamentals. Otherwise, and this is me right now, you are just practicing at being bad, making the same errors over and over. Investing is no different. Any day trader can hit a lucky putt now and again. But it takes someone with significant knowledge and experience to achieve long term, consistent success.

These comparisons go on but you get the picture. I’m certain that I know where responsible, quality investing will get you.

I’m less certain about the result of my golf experiment. Stay tuned.

Original content provided by Gregory Mattacola, Esq., CFP, Lead Advisor at Strategic Financial Services. Content is provided for educational purposes only and should not be used as the basis upon which to make an investment or financial decisions.  Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, performance is not guaranteed.  Past performance is not indicative of future performance.

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