Scott Kittrell_1

Unlike many who were raised in the game, Scott Kittrell was the first in his family to play golf. Now, he and his wife enjoy living near the courses of the Country Club of North Carolina.

As golfers, we all know that the game of golf promotes values that, if integrated in our lives, make us better neighbors and citizens. So much so that organizations like First Tee use the game to “shape the lives of young people from all walks of life by reinforcing values like integrity, respect and perseverance through the game of golf.”

Golf has been a passion of mine from an early age. Unlike many who were raised in the game, I was the first in my family to play golf. I was drawn to the game by the natural beauty of the setting and the fact that it challenges you intellectually, physically and spiritually. There is no question that a small white ball sitting on a tee can torment the best of us.

As a financial planner, I believe many of the lessons I have learned from golf can be applied to the pursuit of building wealth and attaining life goals. Here are 10 lessons that I find to really resonate:

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Have you ever tried to play golf with borrowed clubs? It usually is not much fun. Having your golf clubs custom-fitted puts you in the best position to succeed. Financial plans work the same way.

Starting late in life is a challenge.

Golf is not an easy sport to learn and trying to do so later in life can challenge both the mind and the body. Financial planning and investing are similar in that starting earlier in life give you more time to save and grow assets plus more time to bounce back from any temporary setbacks.

You must have discipline.

Natural talent can only get you so far. Excelling at the game of golf requires consistent practice and attention. The approach is the same for financial planning. There are countless examples of clients with modest means who through planning and consistent savings build a level of wealth that allows them to live the lives of their choosing.

It helps to have a coach.

The best golfers in the world have coaches. It’s not that they don’t understand the fundamentals of their golf swing, but they realize that a fresh set of eyes from a skilled professional will help them more efficiently identify and address issues. It’s no different in financial planning. Blind spots can be catastrophic.

Your equipment must fit.

Have you ever tried to play golf with borrowed clubs? It usually is not much fun. Having your golf clubs custom-fitted puts you in the best position to succeed. Financial plans work the same way. Every person is different with respect to the resources available and the goals they have for their life. As a result, an “off the rack” financial plan is unlikely to be a good fit or maximize their success.

It’s not how you drive; it’s how you arrive.

Successful golfers understand that hitting long drives is great, but it’s only a part of shooting a low score. Iron play, chipping, sand play and putting are areas that also need development. As a planner, I often see individuals who focus only on investment performance. Although important, too much focus on investing often leaves investors blind to other planning issues that, left unaddressed, can have detrimental effects on the future of their families.

If you want to shoot low scores, don’t overlook course management.

No experienced golfer would tee off on the first day of a tournament without fully preparing for his or her round. Knowing where the trouble is located and where to miss a shot are critical to navigating your way around a golf course. As a financial planner, the same applies to having a financial plan. Identifying the risk and having a well-thought-out plan in place can help you avoid pitfalls you may never have considered.

Stick to the fundamentals.

I’ve seen countless golfers who have reached a level of success only to derail their careers by making swing changes in an effort to gain more distance. Sometimes changes are warranted, but they should only come with careful consideration and oversight. The daily gyration of the stock market is rarely a good enough cause to dramatically alter your financial plan. Making changes should be done carefully and with help from a qualified professional.

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Don't derail your game by making swing changes in an effort to gain more distance. Sometimes changes are warranted, but they should only come with careful consideration and oversight. The daily gyration of the stock market is rarely a good enough cause to dramatically alter your financial plan. 

Make sure your partner is on the same page.

Anyone playing team golf with a spouse or friend knows how important it is to work together. Whether choosing the best shot to take in a scramble or strategizing an alternate shot, you perform your best when working together. Similarly, I find it imperative for spouses or partners to be engaged in the planning process. Both opinions matter and add value to developing an effective plan.

There will be rainy days.

Sometimes you are forced to play in the rain. When it happens, the golfer who is best prepared both mentally and physically tends to win the day. My experience is that those who have prepared for the rainy day through financial planning not only fare better financially, but also experience much less stress and uncertainty during the storm.

Stop and smell the roses.

Golf is a game and is supposed to be fun. Being outside in a beautiful natural setting with friends and/or family should be celebrated and enjoyed, regardless of how well you are playing. Financial planning is often viewed as sacrificing today for a better tomorrow. The reality is we are never promised tomorrow so your planning should incorporate living your best life both now and in the future.

Which lesson resonates best with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts – both on golf and financial planning. Schedule time with me here: parsecfinancial.com/team/scott-kittrell.

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