Trading & Golf

I mentioned long ago that I wanted to write a series about the similarities between Trading and Golf. I had read on a website long ago where a trader had made several correlations between the two sports, and I wanted to grace this topic with my perspectives and offer a more in depth feel based on emotion and psychology. I will introduce a new article on this topic each week most likely on Tuesdays. Since I play golf Wednesday mornings, this will keep the information fresh in my mind before I step out on the course. Even if you are not a golfer, try and imagine the similarities between the two, or just focus your attention on what I teach you about trading. This will help you see the bigger picture and build a stronger foundation of fundamentals based on lessons I have learned through the likeness of both professions. Plus if you love trading, I can easily turn you into a golfer.

I have traded in the markets since 1998. I am passionate about trading. I love the challenge it presents, the thrill of victory, the lessons that are taught to make you a better trader, and earning an ability to see things that will happen before they occur. Each trade I take is the next trade that will help me attain perfection in this quest. This is what drives me to keep trading. In my experience I have gone on a few amazing runs in my career, and some terrible lows. The wide array of results have really helped to groom me into a more focused and determined trader. A lesson my trading physiologist taught me is that it is not about the returns I made in 98, 99, or 03... or about the losses I took in 00, or recently in 06... it's all about what you choose right now on "this" trade. She has taught me about "being in the moment" and not trading with fear, greed, or emotion of any sorts. This has been one of the biggest lessons I have ever learned about life in general.

I have played golf since I was about 15. I didn't play on the high school team or in an atmosphere of any real competition. I am not the best golfer but I have goals to be great. I love playing golf. I love being on the course early in the morning, the smell of wet grass, and the beautiful environment around me to play in. I also love the challenge each hole presents, the thrill of victory, and the desire the sport instills in me to get better. With every swing of the club, I am chasing perfection. I want to achieve that "perfect shot" where I hit the ball square, straight, and swing through my target.

As you read both of these paragraphs I am sharing my personal reasons why I correlate the two activities. You can see I am passionate about them and for very similar reasons. There are vast similarities between them that we will touch on each week. For now this will serve as an introduction to get us started. If I have any golfers out there, please add your perspectives. I haven't been golfing for all that long and many of you can offer more insight than I could ever offer. This also goes for any comments you would like to share about your personal trading experience. Please keep it coming.

Jeff,

Great correlation. Being a beginner trader, I find the psychological aspects of trading to be right in line with my golfing. If I screw up a hole, and blow a shot – more often than not it affects my next shot and I lose confidence. If I let that continue, it blows the whole round. Because I’m not such a great golfer, one good shot will keep me coming back to the course to eventually have a bad round. If I could minimize the psychological impact of the bad shots, what would that do to my game? What would that do to my trading? It’s not the trading or the golf, it’s the trader and the golfer. They really fit together. Thanks for the post and for the blog – it’s been extremely helpful.

Jeff Bogaczyk

I have been golfing for over 23 years, and was part of the North Section PGA of Florida. If you go out on the course, start out bad, or good, you must realize that there will be shots that are misplaced. At that point in time you must forget about the last shot, and don't get yourself into anymore trouble. Sometimes it might bring you up on the wrong side of the fairway, rough, and the approach to the green. You must have conviction that the next shot will make up for the last one. For an example, you are coming to the 16th green, and you are -2 under, but must finish -1 under to make the cut. You misplace you shot on 16, so you go safe and put it on the green and get yourself out of trouble, and get out with a par, bogey at worst. That still gives you the chance to finish -1 with 2 holes to play. I can tell you that golf is about patience. You must have it, the nice thing about golf for the novice golfer is that the great shots keep bringing you back. I would also add emotions...if you are playing bad, and you are thinking of your last shot, and telling yourself that you must hit the next one perfect, it generally ends in a disater. Great post Jeff, I am trying to do the same after reading this section. Being a golfer for 23 years, I am pretty good, but being an investor for 5 months I am a beginner, and must learn, and it is a lot harder then golf that's for sure. Did anyone know that the Nationl Avg 18 hole golf round is 121...I am sure most did not know that? On Avg you play a Par 71 or 72. That's +49, Tiger was 85 under through 5 Tourney's. Again great post Jeff!!

Bradley and Jennifer Howard

That was well said.

I'm a lousy golfer, but i enjoy playing golf and the atmosphere it provides. I enjoy hitting the great shots and deep down I really want to break 100.

The problem is, I don't take lessons and I don't practice on the range. I play once a week in the summer. How can you get better when you don't take it seriously enough and work hard to correct your problems?

I am treating trading FAR different from my golf. You need to practice, you need to learn, and you need to refine your game. You need to not 'blow up' on a hole. If you're in the woods, punch out and give up a stroke to avoid hitting the tree over and over. Same with trading.

I've had a rough patch lately, but i'm determined to come out of it stronger. I realize the mistakes i've made (even ones i swore i wouldn't make again) and i need to stop making them.

After all, it's all about course management, isn't it?

Nice correlation betweent the two. I'm a duffer on the course, however I have hit a wonder shot or two. There is no feeling like it. It makes me want to hit the next 15 bad shots even quicker for the one good one that's comming. It's a numbers game, like most things.

Poker, however is my comparison. Just when you think you know what you're doing, the gods slap you down with a nice little retracement or your bankroll. As you sit there with that look, you know which one. The same one you have when you hit that house off the tee. What just happened there???? or are you kidding me????
or my personal fav WTF. (What the frig.) Keeping with the family show here.

Perfection although unattainable sure keeps me comming back. It's not the game so much. It's really not even winning, it's the ever elusive pursuit of one's inner demons to catapult you through mediocrity (resistance)with heavy volume, of course.

Jeff -- what's a "trading physiologist"? Are they covered by insurance or coaches at Investools? And where can we get one? Love your blog and all the great info you share with us ... now I'm looking for a trading physiologist if it will help me with my trades....

Jeff, I have been golfing longer than trading but definately find them very similar. I really enjoy envisioning a shot and executing it just as I saw it in my mind. If I could only do that with every shot and every trade....

Needless to say I will keep practicing both!

For those of you interested in more on trading psychology, I heartily recommend two books by Mark Douglas - The Disciplined Trader, and Trading in the Zone. Both are worth reading 3-5 times.

Our Wasington DC area Investools group has been in contact with Mark and are trying to get him to come to the area for a 1-2 day session. He is agreeable if we can get a large enough group together.

Jeff H. Wash DC

Jeff,

From an old ex-hippy's point of view, you sound very zen like in your approach to trading and golf. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is doesn't exist. Being in the present and observing the dynamics and movement of life is where we gain perception.

Jeff,
Golf and trading are similar indeed. I golf and I will trade. A friend ask me what I was going to do post retirement, and before I could answer he said, "I bet it has something to do with data analysis." Indeed it does.

But, let's look at golf. You're on the tee and what are you doing? Data analysis: Height of the tee, height of the hole, number of shots to the green,windage, obstacles, water, boundaries ad naseum. Golf is data analysis at its best. So is trading: price, support, resistance, trend, channel, hammer, doji ad naseum.

I have a friend who blows a shot and will crab about it for three holes until I tell him his problem is getting to me. He can't forget and he take his history forward to effect his future. I, on the other hand, can't, or rather don't care to, remember my last shot.

My friend will lay up because it's safest and sometimes blow the shot even though he's capable of a much better shot. It costs him in his score. I, on the other hand, never resist the challenge of a tough shot. I've been 30 feet from a 100' tree with the pin on the other side and shot over it with a 9 iron. I've had a tree 10 feet away between me and the pin with a two foot "hole" in the branches. Guess what I did... yup.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you loose. It's the way of life. Golf and trading are very similar. I love your analogy and look forward to reading your exeriences here!

Larry (golfer ad naseum)

"Mana" is a Hawaiian word having one meaning loosely translating to being in sync. Surfing requires mana. While you are riding a wave you have mana. You don't beat the wave or master the wave but you can, with correct practice, discipline and understanding, get yourself in sync with the wave and use its power.

If you can apply correct practice, discipline and understanding to the market you will not be able to make it go the direction you wish but at those times you are in sync with the market it will push you along.

On the quest for market mana and the perfect trade.

Mike

P.S. I must be a complete nut case for posting that. I swear I have not been drinking.

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About me

  • I'm Option Addict
  • From Saratoga Springs, Utah, United States
  • I am a professional trader and an instructor for Investools. I've had relations with the markets for 9 years. Born in Concord, CA, but reside in Saratoga Springs, Utah. Father of THREE, Husband of one.
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