Hard Line Golfing On Par With Aggressive Investing

July 10, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Shooting over the water hazard in one for eagle instead of taking three to save par may have more to do with investing behavior than meets the eye.

Nearly four out of 10 golfers (38%) who labeled themselves “aggressive” when shooting for the cup also consider themselves on the edge with their investments.    Comparatively, 17% of golfers who identified with being “nonaggressive” said they were aggressive in the markets, according to a survey by American Century Investments.

However, it is an entirely different game on the back nine of the full survey results.     Golfers as a whole tend to be far more aggressive on the course than they are with their investments. While roughly half of the respondents (53%) describe themselves as “aggressive” golfers, only 28% describe themselves as “aggressive” investors. In fact, when asked to describe their personal investing strategy 63% of golfers state that they are “playing it safe with pars,” where 35% say they are “still shooting for birdies” with their investments.

In the end, golfers do not like to call a mulligan, especially with their money, preferring investment strategies that emphasize perseverance:

  • 71% say their approach to investing is to go “slow and steady”
  • 70% say they “believe in the buy and hold philosophy of investing”
  • 62% say that it is important for them to “minimize risk in order to keep the assets I have”

Yet, there are still those aiming for the hole-in-one.   Twenty-one percent say they are “willing to take substantial risks with my investments for the potential of a large return.”

Lining Up

Regardless of the approach shot, the majority said they are not afraid to ask their investment “caddy” what club to use, much like they turn to the club pro for a helpful tip.   While 54% said they “seek advice from investment professionals” to help them make better investments, approximately the same number (56%) “seek advice from golf professionals” to help improve their game.

And much like getting a good tip, the vast majority of golfers (70%) want to put it to good use, believing investing is “all about the fundamentals and numbers,” while 25% prefer to rely on “feel and intuition.” Golfers are sharply divided about defining success in investing, with 49% saying “it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game,” while 47% feel “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

Not surprisingly, the survey also found that the average golfer spends almost twice as much time working on their tee shot, than managing investments.   Overall, where 16 hours a month are spent on swatting out of the sand trap in the average 4.7 rounds played in a month, only nine hours are buried in the checkbook.

The survey is based on telephone interviews with 400 subscribers to Golf Digest.