I like wine. But I don’t know a lot about wine. My friend, Henry, knows a lot about wine. When picking a wine, I often refer and defer to Henry’s extensive knowledge of wine. I outsource many of my wine buying decisions to Henry. I adopt Henry’s knowledge of wine as my own.
I also like to golf when I can. I am an ok golfer, but could be better. My friend, John, is a great golfer. He reads all of the magazines and watches all of the instructional videos. When we golf together, John shares that knowledge with me. I can take John’s learning and make it mine. (Unfortunately, my increased knowledge doesn’t necessarily translate into lower golf scores.)
In a recent podcast by Michael Lewis called “Against the Rules”, (Season 2, Bonus episode), Michael Lewis interviews Malcolm Gladwell and Jacob Weisberg. At one point, Malcolm Gladwell refers to a concept akin to a “collective memory”, whereby he outsources things he needs to know to friends and family. He says that his approach is that we should appoint experts to our friendship circle and outsource things we need to know to them. Their knowledge and experience becomes ours. He suggests that in personal and professional life, we should let others do the things that they can do better than us.
The context of the discussion was the running of Pushkin Industries, which is a podcasting company formed by Gladwell and Weisberg. Gladwell is the “ideas” person, whereas Weisberg is more of the operations person. Gladwell relies on Weisberg to manage the financial and day-to-day aspects of the business. This allows Gladwell to do what he does best.
There is a great lesson in Gladwell’s brief comment. Personally and professionally, surround yourself with smart people whom you respect and trust and who have a broad range of strengths and interests. Listen to them. Free yourself to rely on their knowledge and experience. Your life will be better and easier for it. (Although you may not become a much better golfer.)
Thanks for reading.
Ian’s questions and answers from Wednesday’s blog on various topics, including death and golfing, led me to consider another issue: people dying on a golf course.
One of my favourite scenes from my favourite movie, Caddy Shack, involves a Bishop playing the best round of golf of his life in a raging rainstorm. When asked if play should continue, greens keeper Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) advises: “I’d keep playing. I don’t think, the heavy stuff’s going to come down for quite a while.” The Bishop plays on, misses his final putt, and turns to curse the sky, whereupon he is struck by lightning. See the clip, here.
Although the Bishop lived (but renounced God), many others have not been as lucky.
According to Golfsupport.com, golfing (with 1.8 injuries per 1,000 people) is more dangerous than rugby (only 1.5 injuries per 1,000). In the U.S., golf carts are responsible for 15,000 injuries per year. 40,000 golfers seek treatment each year for injuries caused by errant golf balls and flying club heads.
Golf Digest has published a list of “The 10 Worst Ways To Die On a Golf Course”. These include:
- A man who was fatally kicked in the chest when a group of golfers lost patience with the man while he was searching for a lost ball.
- A man in Ireland who died after a rat ran up his leg, urinated and bit him while the man was searching for his ball in a ditch. The rat carried the fatal Weil’s disease.
- A man who died after slamming his club against a bench after a poor shot. The club shattered, and a piece of the club pierced his chest.
This weekend sees The Masters Tournament being hosted once again at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. The Masters was established in 1934, making this its 85th year.
Elizabeth and Herman Thacker have seen many of those tournaments. They have lived in their home next to Augusta since 1959.
Over the years, the Augusta national Golf Club has spent a reported $40 million (US), according to Business Insider, buying up homes next to the course, to accommodate parking. However, to date, the Thackers have resisted Augusta’s offers.
A 2019 article in Bisnow reported that Augusta National has spent $200 million over the past 20 years to purchase land surrounding the famed course. Purchases include two strip malls, and a church.
The spending spree does not seem to have had an impact on food prices at the tournament. A pimento cheese sandwich is still only $1.50, and a beer is $4.00. Take that, Rogers Centre!
On to the green jacket: all members of the Augusta National Golf Club (there are about 300 of them) get a green jacket. This was to identify them as members. In 1949, the club began awarding a jacket to tournament winners (although they don’t get a membership). The winner is allowed to take the jacket off of the club grounds, but only for one year. The green in the jacket is “Pantone 342”.
Caddies at The Masters are not so sartorially lucky. They are required to wear white coveralls and a green baseball hat. Until 1983, golfers couldn’t bring their own caddies, but had to use caddies supplied by Augusta National. The coveralls each have a number on the front. The defending champion gets #1; other numbers are based on the order that the caddies check in to the tournament.
Have a great weekend.
I realize from our summer students that golf and tennis may be past their “best before date” in the sporting world. Kids today are more likely to know names like Sydney, Ronaldo, and LeBron, than Brooke Henderson and Alexander Zverev.
Not surprisingly, when it comes to attending professional sporting events live, most people think of sports like hockey, soccer, basketball and baseball (football has a place too, of course). While these can be great events, I’d argue that nothing beats the variety of experience and the excitement that golf or tennis provide when you see it live.
There are two main reasons:
- Every shot is meaningful. The beauty of pro tennis and golf is that there is always a lot on the line. In tennis, a single loss means the player is gone. You are literally watching players fight for their survival. Even in golf, players are competing over just a four-day period, with more than $1 million usually going to the winner. Does a missed shot matter during an 82-game basketball season? Usually not. But an errant shot in golf or tennis could put a player out of the tournament.
- It’s a serendipitous fan experience. With a golf or tennis tournament, your ticket gives you an opportunity to create your own experience. With tennis, you can wander to any of multiple courts in action – and in the early stages of a tournament, you’re likely to see top-ranked players on small, intimate back courts that put you just a few steps from the action. Golf is the same – no two spectators will have the same experience. You can follow a group of players around the course, or park yourself on any hole to see how multiple players approach their shots.
I don’t think there are many other sports that allow you to “stumble upon” so many unexpected moments. So, with summer here, consider taking in a live golf or tennis event.
- Men’s golf: RBC Canadian Open – July 23-29 (Glen Abbey, Oakville)
- Women’s golf: CP Women’s Open – August 20-26 (Wascana Country Club, Regina)
- Men’s tennis: Rogers Cup – August 3-12 (Aviva Centre Stadium, Toronto)
- Women’s tennis: Rogers Cup – August 3-12 (Uniprix Stadium, Montreal)
Of course, golf and tennis events in U.S. border states (such as US Open tennis in New York City in late August) can also make for a very rich experience.
Thank you for reading … have a great day!