Master the Moment

Golf lessons for business and life.

Have you ever watched a Masters Tournament from Augusta, GA? No matter who is in the lead at the end of 54 holes, it’s no guarantee they’ll win the tournament on the final day. It’s similar to running a marathon. Most experienced marathon runners will tell you there are two races: The first 20 miles is the first half. The last 6.2 miles is the second half.

In 1996, Greg Norman had a six-stroke lead at 54 holes, yet the next day he had a total meltdown and lost to Nick Faldo by seven strokes. The following year as they entered the final round, Tiger Woods had a record nine-stroke lead over Costantino Rocca. He seemed unbeatable. And he was, as it turned out.

In 2015, Jordan Spieth won the Masters by leading all four rounds and became the youngest winner at age 20. But in 2016, he had a final round meltdown and lost to Danny Willett. As I submitted this column, Dustin Johnson had won his last three tournaments and was favored to win the Masters. But at press time, I learned Sergio Garcia earned the green jacket.

Golf is like business and life. The best you can do is master the moment.

You will never master the game. Mastery of a moment within the game does not guarantee mastery of every other moment. Past successes can help future successes, but they cannot guarantee them.

Tiger won the Masters. But when his next tournament and every tournament thereafter comes along, he has to start all over. His past excellence may have won him considerable praise, perhaps giving him a psychological edge of some kind. But in the end, he has to work from a re-leveled playing field every time—perhaps even against opponents more determined than ever to show mastery of the game equal to his own. And with time and injuries, the question is: Will he ever come back? You can only master the moment.

The ones who have the best chance of doing that are the ones who stick to their own games. They compete against the course with the skills they bring. They plan mentally for how they will play each hole based on the day’s weather, wind, and pin placements. They will not play Dustin or Jordan or anyone else. They play the course as it is that day, with the swing they brought to the course that day.


So what do I learn from this—and from my own golf game? And how do I apply this to everyday life? Here are a few of the things I’ve been learning (and sometimes must re-learn) that might have value for you. In golf, business, and life:

  • My game, at whatever level or context, is my game, and is not affected by someone else’s— unless I choose to let it. I have to work on mastery of my thoughts and emotions, as well as the skill parts of any “game.”
  •  From Marilyn Ferguson (author of “The Aquarian Conspiracy”), I learned that my past is not my potential. In any hour I can choose to change the future. A bad shot, move, or comment does not doom me to another. I can choose to depart from that path. Many people have a bad shot or hole and think the round has been ruined—that there’s no hope of a good score—and they’re right. Masters champions don’t see it that way—and they are right, too!
  • I must stay “in the moment.” I can’t do anything to change the historical facts of what happened five minutes, five hours, or five days ago. I can only focus on doing my best with the moment I’m experiencing right now. I also cannot do anything directly about something that might happen five minutes, five hours, or five days into the future. I can only focus on making the best of the minute I’m experiencing right now.

I’ve learned some other things, as well, but I’m more interested in hearing from you about learning points you might have gained. Send them to me at:

Who knows, I just might use them in a future column. In the meantime, let’s focus on mastering the moment.

Until next time—continue to add value and make a difference.

Bob Pike, CSP CPLP FELLOW, CPAESpeakers Hall of Fame, is known as the “trainer’s trainer.” He is the author of more than 30 books, including “Creative Training Techniques Handbook” and his newest book, “The Master Trainer’s Handbook.” You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook using bobpikectt.