The month of July brings two major events that I enjoy, Wimbledon and the British Open at St. Andrews. These events are the oldest in their respective sports and provide an indoor respite to many viewers like me on muggy July mornings.
Since 1877, ladies and gentlemen have dressed all in white to compete at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club for the Wimbledon Championships. It’s the greatest of the tournaments in the Grand Slam circuit and also the toughest to win because the grass courts create a fast pace of play. Tennis balls bounce lower off the iconic grass. This creates an advantage for players with a strong serve and powerful ground strokes. Some competitors are suited for this type of tournament, while other accomplished athletes struggle as their game isn’t as compatible with the grass courts.
The British Open (or the Open Championship as it’s known) kicks off in July as it returns to St. Andrews in Scotland. St. Andrews was founded in 1754 and is known as the “home of golf”. This links course with its hellish pot bunkers and windy conditions was the home of the first Open Championship in 1873. It is seen as the truest and purest test of a golfer’s skill and determination, and its tournament trophy, the Claret Jug, is prized by golfers worldwide.
Like tennis stars competing in London realize, the unique course at St. Andrew’s tests its challengers’ mettle. The Gael storm-like conditions require mastery of certain shots to hit the green and even greater skill and patience to get out of the sand traps along the course. It makes the best golfers in the world appear to be mortal when their shots inevitably fall into unplayable lies or fly errantly into the rough due to the elements.
Past Wimbledon Cup and Claret Jug winners have proven an ability to adapt their game to “survive and advance” their position and use patience and opportunity to weather the conditions and execute the right shot or volley at the opportune moment.
Bobby Jones was a 3-time British Open champion and one of the most influential golfers of all time. He was quoted as saying that “competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course…the space between your ears.” To manage the distractions on the course top golfers don’t rely solely on their own ability. They are never more than a few steps from their secret weapon – their caddie.
Caddies not only carry the equipment that golfers need to finish a round, but provide insight and expertise on how to move through the course. A great caddie knows his golfer, his best shots and his weaknesses. He will advise his golfer on not only how to proactively approach the next shot, but how to recover from a poor shot that rolls into the rough or a bunker.
Investors trying to face brutal conditions in today’s economy could use the sage advice of a great caddie. Inflation has risen at a speed faster than a Serena Williams serve, while higher gas prices have derailed consumer spending like a patch of 2-foot Yorkshire Fog grass hiding an errant tee shot. Those that relied on index investing over the past decade hit some record long-drives with tech stocks in their portfolios, but now those investors find themselves in a pot bunker wondering how they are going to recover after major declines in Amazon, Meta, Apple, and others. The headwinds are strong and require a resilient and calculated effort to not only get out of the hazard but maintain composure to take on the next challenge on the next hole.
The same rings true for those investing to reach their retirement goals. Conditions may be challenging and unpredictable, but don’t let that prevent you from focusing on the next shot. It may take a different club, or even hiring (or firing) your caddie to help you on the course. The conditions are brutal, but with the right stroke, you can improve your odds of financial success.
Our team has played this course before. If you need help getting out of the bunker or figuring out how to return that powerful serve, please give us a call.