A Pro Golfer’s Advice to his Son

I read Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” when I was 19 years old and have tried to live my life by it.

I gambled at the drop of a hat; and lost it all and started again. Choosing a career in golf is crazy in itself, but life is about ‘crazy’ if you are so inclined. So take risks and follow your passion, my Son.

You tell me that you want to be a Professional Golfer and under no circumstances would I discourage you from taking this journey that will lead you on untold discoveries about yourself and adventures beyond your wildest dreams. It is a true journey of work ethic, constant learning and patience, but this is my advice to you.

Rule #1 – Most Important Rule of All: Consider Your Source

Choose carefully who you learn from; this is a fundamental key to success. The easiest way to learn is to read about the greats in your particular field. What made Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Tom Watson great? Read as much as you can. Information is the key to success and you need to ensure that you have good information.

Most people you meet will offer you advice, but always consider the source of your advice. Pick the advice from people with a track record of success. Many people are spectators in life; Rather listen to the participators who have been there. 

Rule #2 – Know Yourself

Learn to understand yourself. You need to learn how you react under pressure. In a game of golf most players become quicker under pressure and some become slower and over think things. You need to know what you do. Situational awareness is key. Understanding your weaknesses and strengths is the first step to becoming great. You can only overcome your weaknesses if you know what they are and you can only fly if you know your strengths. You need to trust yourself and you can only do that if you know yourself.

Rule #3 – This Game Rewards Consistency and Hard Work

Don’t coach hop. Pick the person who’s message you like and stick with them. If you consistently work on the same thing, you will succeed at it. The road to success is not paved with the wrong or right in a golf swing. It is paved with consistency. If you have been doing something for 10000 hours and you are successful at it, stick to it. If you make fundamental changes to your swing, you reset your clock to zero and it takes too long to get to the same level of success. Just get better at what you are doing. It doesn’t make sense to win a Major and then change your swing or your putting grip. Jack Nicklaus had the same coach for 40 years. Jason Day and Jordan Spieth have only ever had one coach. Tiger Woods is a great example of someone who coach hopped and we need to ask ourselves, where would he be, if he had stayed with Butch Harmon? I think he would have won 25 Majors by now.

Rule #4 – Have a Blueprint of Your Perfect Swing

The key to knowing that you are with the right coach, is knowing that he or she has created a blueprint of YOUR perfect swing. You need to work towards that blueprint consistently. As time goes by, things creep into your golf swing. The right coach for you will know YOUR blueprint and guide you back to YOUR perfect swing every time. The ‘cookie cutter’ approach to coaching is not going to bring out the best in you. Each golfer has their swing, which creates the perfect result. If you focus your career on consistently swinging YOUR own perfect swing, you will be a champion, my Son.

Rule #5 – Become an Artist, not a Machine

The machines focus on technique and the artists focus on rhythm. If you are going to focus on one thing in your golf for the rest of your life, let it be rhythm. It’s the thing you’ll lose easiest under pressure and if you want to win, you need to know exactly how you are going to keep it.

When you look at players with longevity in the game like Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Fred Couples and Sam Sneed, you will notice that they did not necessarily have technically perfect swings. Traditionally the game and the teaching of the game, is extremely focused on technique. I am not saying that technique is not important, but what I am saying, is that to create longevity in the game, your focus needs to shift to having a greater understanding of rhythm and the impact it has. When a machine breaks down, it breaks down properly. You can get another knee, but it will never be the same and you can’t buy yourself a new back.

Create a golf swing based on rhythm and you will not only play golf for longer, but you will also be an artist, my Son

Rule #6 – Be Honest

The only thing you ever have on the golf course is your integrity. People will forgive you for everything, except for cheating on a golf course. Be honest with yourself, with your scores and in how you play the game.

Rule #7 – Walk in Humility and Treat Everyone with Respect

From kings to paupers, treat everyone the same; and it is better to treat them all as kings. Everyone has a story and no man’s path has been easy. Remember that a rich man and a poor man that are trying to date a woman battle with exactly the same thing; love. The poor man is thinking, will she love me even though I have no money. The rich man is thinking will she love me only because I have money. Regardless of your station in life, every man has battles and it’s important to respect the battles of each person.

Rule #8 – Smell the Roses

If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. The journey may be hard, but don’t lose track of the fact that you are a golfer. Smell the roses and have fun. There are millions of people who would wish to spend their days earning a living on a golf course. It’s a privilege, so don’t lose perspective of the life you have chosen.

Rule #9 – Be Brave

In my life, I have lacked bravery at crucial times. You will feel the fear, but it’s what you do in that moment that makes you a man. If you look back at your life, you will always know that you had enough time to make a good decision. Don’t feel rushed in decisions. Have the courage to take the time to make the right decision.

Rule #10 – Be Better

My greatest legacy would be that you are a better man than me. Of all the things I can give you in the world, the thing I want to give you the most, is to be better than me, in all the areas of your life. A better husband, a better father, a better friend and a better golfer. Take the best of me and make it better. Take the worst of me and make it better.

I am forever your greatest supporter, my Son.


By Mike Quinn

Golf Instructor and Former Sunshine Tour Player

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