Sunday, April 11, 2010

On Par: 3 Lessons Learned from the Masters

Birdie. Eagle. Bogey.  Many birds of a feather flocked to the Masters this weekend, and they certainly enjoyed the triumph of Phil Mickelson's 3rd Masters victory.   While some flocked to golf's most elite event hoping for a comeback kid to lead the pack,  I was struck by the progress of a lesser-known competitor, KJ Choi.

KJ Choi is the first Korean golfer to earn a PGA Tour Card, and the first Korean to score a PGA win.  Other than that, or the logo of a favorite company upon his lapel, you probably never noticed him. But KJ has always had a special place in my heart.   When I worked at the sports marketing behemoth IMG, I drafted press materials and marketing headsheets for the golf agents who represented KJ. 

I smiled as he posted a 4th-place finsh at 11 under, tied with Tiger Woods.  Here's the lessons I learned from KJ today:

  • Its going to take some time and some practice on the greens.    It was over 7 years ago that I worked for the sports agents who supported KJ's career.  I'd bet no one had heard of him then, and even today, to many, he was merely Tiger's playing partner. Over the long run, a lucky birdie or two does not define a PGA career. Its years of practice, focus, and slow growing momentum to refine your game.  The same goes in 
  • Your bench has more depth than you could ever know.   KJ Choi never knew that there was an unpaid PGA Golf intern who pieced together powerpoint presentations of his career and analyzed his left versus right profile shots for optimum attractiveness.   In the same way, its all too easy to be unaware of the cheerleaders who are rooting for you.  Your bench is stacked with those who are fans of your life.  You see some of your fans each and every day, but never forget that there's special ones, who in their own way, are cheering you on from afar. 
  • You can move mountains if you try.  KJ Choi was a teen powerlifter who could squat 350 pounds as a 13-year old.  Who knew?  Maybe what you're pushing for isn't where you'll eventually end up.  But, its the effort that makes you stronger along the way. 

KJ Choi has had 3 top-5 finishes in his last 4 events and has career earnings of over $20.7 million dollars.  Talk about defining the perfect job as "getting paid to do something you love."  I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I love, but in the meantime, I'm always ready to tee off on something new. 

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