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Favorite golf quotes that provide valuable lessons


As we start the new year 2023, “hope springs eternal” for nearly all golfers, looking forward to better golf, better scoring, better weather and a happier time on the golf course. With that in mind, I share a few of my favorite golfing quotations with some personal comments.

My first quote is from Ben Crenshaw, a 19-time winner on the PGA Tour, including two Masters, with the emotional second win in 1995, a week after his coach and mentor, Harvey Penick, passed away. “Golf is the hardest game in the world,” Crenshaw said. “There is no way you can ever get it. Just when you think you do, the game jumps up and puts you in your place.” You don’t need to remind both Jordan Spieth and Colin Morikowa about that. Morikowa had as much a nine-shot lead with 17 holes to go in the final round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions in early January, until he had a meltdown, and lost to John Rahm, who shot 61. Spieth shared the first-round lead at 6-under in the Sony Open Jan. 12; then he shot 5-over in the second round and missed the cut by one. We all have meltdowns occasionally, but not for millions of dollars, thankfully.

My next quote is from the late, great Arnold Palmer, who passed in 2016: “Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated. It satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.” I suppose that is exactly why so many of us are addicted to golf. One day, after a sadly inept round we wonder why we even go out and play; and then the next round we play brilliantly and score a personal best, giving us our answer why we play.

The legendary golfer Bobby Jones is highly quotable but this is my favorite:  “Golf is so much more fun when it is played well. I’ve always thought that if the game was worth playing at all, it was worth making some effort to play it correctly.” I endorse Jones’ attitude entirely. That was the idea when Herb Wimberly and I started Performance Golf Schools in 1999, with the thought that we desired to help golfers of all abilities to play their best. It is why I devote so much space in these writings to helpful tips so that readers can find ways to improve.

Here’s a thoughtful quote from my all-time favorite golfer, Jack Nicklaus, who won 18 major championships, which, I believe, will never be equaled. “Let’s look at the expression ‘self-management.’ What does that mean? I guess it means managing your assets to get the best out of them. Your health is an asset, so you owe it to yourself to learn how to take care of it. Your skill is an asset, so you must keep it honed. Your brain is an asset, so you must keep it exercised, challenged and sharp. Your attitude is also an asset – but only if you keep it positive. Physical fitness is an asset, so you make sure you remain physically fit. Your family is an asset, so you love and cherish your family. Life is an asset – so make the most of it and the best of it.” From Jack’s book, Golf and Life, 2002.

Ben Hogan was one of the most thorough students of the game from every aspect. His practice demonstrated a strong work ethic, so that his confidence in competition was rock solid. He sized golf up this way: “You can hit your shots great and still shoot 80 every day because of poor management. The shots are 30 percent of the game. Judgment is 70 percent.” And, of course, “judgment” referred to every golfing decision, awareness, estimation, astuteness, clear thinking and steady nerves.

Finally, here’s some advice from former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, which we all should strive to internalize: “Work hard, have a good attitude and practice in preparation for any opportunities.”