This week’s United States women’s professional golf purse was 18.6% of the men’s.
Today’s Ladies* Professional Golf Association leaderboard following the first round in Oneida, Wisconsin. Eight countries represented among the top ten. Explained in large part by Asia’s economic rise. Little known fact, Yu Liu played at Duke University**. Course might be a little too easy.
Today’s European Tour leaderboard, only seven countries represented among the top ten because of a run of Brits. Props to Padraig for reppin’ the old guys.
*Who uses “Ladies” anymore?
**that’s what I’m here for
Aspiring leaders can learn a lot from Donald Trump. Specifically, what not to do. Last week he bragged that HE was going to pass the biggest tax cut in history. Not “my administration”, not “Congressional leaders and me”, “ME“. At the same time, when pressed to explain why he’s failed to pass any significant legislation so far, he has his Press Secretary blame Congress for “not doing their job”.
In contrast, listen to 24 year-old Jordan Spieth after winning his next golf tournament. Or Justin Thomas in three days in South Korea. Both consistently credit their teams for their success, starting every sentence with “We“. They credit their caddies, swing coaches, trainers, agents, and families for their success. Also note how they shift gears when they lose. “My putting wasn’t what it has been.” “I never had control of my driver.”
Two utterly opposite models of leadership. The U.S. Constitution says you have to be 35 years old to be President. If not for that, I’d say, let’s make a trade, Spieth to the Oval Office, Trump to the first tee. I mean he claims to have shot 73 last week. That news was timely, I was beginning to think he had his sense of humor surgically removed.
“The only goal is to learn the material, sooner or later. . . . Mastery-based learning, also known as proficiency-based or competency-based learning, is taking hold across the country.”
What goes around, comes around:
“Mastery-based learning can be traced to the 1960s, when Benjamin Bloom, a professor at the University of Chicago and an education psychologist, challenged conventional classroom practices. He imagined a more holistic system that required students to demonstrate learning before moving ahead. But the strategy was not widely used because it was so labor intensive for teachers. Now, with computer-assisted teaching allowing for tailored exercises and online lessons, it is making a resurgence.”
“We want to change the conversation from ‘I’m not successful at this’ to ‘This is where you are on the ladder of growth.’”
“. . . the culture in the police world is not to acknowledge fear, stress, or weakness—and if officers do, they can be pulled off the street and put on a desk. Police who are suffering or dealing with PTSD may be more prone to hair-trigger reactions, which in turn can mean more tragedies. Those who’ve gone through the Miami-Dade program have been more willing to recognize their own stress and to seek help.”
“As early as 1952, Czechoslovak sexologists started doing research on the female orgasm, and in 1961 they held a conference solely devoted to the topic,” Katerina Liskova, a professor at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, told me. “They focused on the importance of the equality between men and women as a core component of female pleasure. Some even argued that men need to share housework and child rearing, otherwise there would be no good sex.”
Pardon me while I vacuum.
Agnieszka Koscianska, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Warsaw, told me that pre-1989 Polish sexologists “didn’t limit sex to bodily experiences and stressed the importance of social and cultural contexts for sexual pleasure.” It was state socialism’s answer to work-life balance: “Even the best stimulation, they argued, will not help to achieve pleasure if a woman is stressed or overworked, worried about her future and financial stability.”
5. Genuine life lessons, from of all places, the world of professional golf.
1. The British Open has always been my favorite golf tournament because of the history, creative shot making, hellish bunkers, cold wind and rain, and the gorse of course. I’m going to miss it.
Englishman Nick Faldo, a three-time Open champion, said it is no longer correct to call it the Open Championship. “Now it’s ‘The Open. In another five years, it will just be called ‘The.’ ”
“I try to write a few pages every day. I don’t obsess over the counting, I just do as much as I can and stop before I feel I am done, so I am eager to start up again the next day, or after lunch. That to me is very important, not to write too much in a single day, but to get something written every single day.”
“When principals are asked their opinions of teachers in confidence and with no stakes attached, they’re much more likely to give harsh ratings, researchers found.”
4. So this is why eldest daughter chooses to live in Chicago.
“Another interesting trend is that all cities in Southwest, from Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, are taco cities. Burrito cities are mostly from the Midwest and West. California has cities in both categories. It appears that SoCal prefers tacos (LA and San Diego), while NorCal prefers burritos (San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose).”
Clearly, burritos > tacos, so I need to visit Indianapolis and San Fransisco.
“In truth, it was never possible to reconcile public standards for a humane health-care system with conservative ideology. In a pure market system, access to medical care will be unaffordable for a huge share of the public. Giving them access to quality care means mobilizing government power to redistribute resources, either through direct tax and transfers or through regulations that raise costs for the healthy and lower them for the sick. Obamacare uses both methods, and both are utterly repugnant and unacceptable to movement conservatives. That commitment to abstract anti-government dogma, without any concern for the practical impact, is the quality that makes the Republican Party unlike right-of-center governing parties in any other democracy. In no other country would a conservative party develop a plan for health care that every major industry stakeholder calls completely unworkable.”
“The larger lesson of this sorry episode is that nobody—not McConnell, or Trump, or House Speaker Paul Ryan—can resolve the contradictions of today’s Republican Party. Once the political arm of the Rotary Club and the affluent suburbs, the Party is increasingly one of middle-class and working-class voters, many of whom are big beneficiaries of federal programs, such as Medicaid and the Obamacare subsidies for the purchase of private insurance. But the G.O.P. remains beholden to its richest, most conservative donors, many of whom espouse a doctrine of rolling back the government and cutting taxes, especially taxes applicable to themselves and other very rich people. It was the donors and ideologues, with Ryan as their front man, who led the assault on the Affordable Care Act.”
“Predictable and despicable” are more apt than “clueless”.
“The first duty of any President is to protect the welfare of the citizenry. In blithely threatening to allow the collapse of the Obamacare exchanges, through which some twelve million Americans have purchased health insurance, Trump was ignoring this duty. Arguably, he was violating his oath of office, in which he promised to ‘faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States.'”
The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team is threatening not to play until they get paid the same as male National Team members.
Admirable, but the challenge is building a men’s-like revenue stream for salaries, meaning attracting the same quality and quantity of corporate sponsors. The men’s team gets paid more not because of some vast misogynist conspiracy, but because they have a lot more eyeballs on them both in person and on television.
Why do more people prefer to watch men play soccer than women? I don’t know. Women’s tennis is an interesting comparison. They’ve succeeded in creating similar prize money at least at Wimbledon and the other majors. A lot of people enjoy the women’s finesse and power game more than the men’s power game, probably because their rallies are longer and thus more interesting. In this ardent heterosexual’s opinion, women’s tennis is hella sensuous too (tmi?). Maybe women feel the same way about men’s soccer?
Yesterday, the Ladies Professional Golf Association held it’s first major in Palm Desert, CA. The winner, the best female player in the world, 18 year old Lydia Ko from New Zealand, earned $390k for her one stroke victory on a course I once hacked my way around with the best father-in-law one could ever have. On the men’s side, “journeyman” Jim Herman won the run-of-the-mill Houston Open for a cool $1,224,000. Ko pocketed less than thirty three cents on the PGA dollar.
Again, way more people prefer watching men’s professional golf than women’s, creating vastly different revenue streams. Why, I’m not sure. It’s okay that I don’t know, but for the women professional athletes who are agitating for equal pay, they better figure it out if they want to succeed in closing the gap.
First a note to international readers. In the U.S. the first two weeks in April is many sports-minded people’s favorite time of the year because of a confluence of great events highlighted by the college basketball national tournaments and the tradition-rich Masters golf tournament. There’s also the start of the professional baseball season and the beginning of the professional hockey and basketball playoffs. And this year there’s going to be a pretty special footrace in Boston next Monday, the 21st.
Few, if any, expected to see the Universities of Connecticut and Kentucky play for the national basketball championship. Combined, both teams lost nineteen games during the regular season. Similarly, Bubba Watson looked completely lost on Augusta National’s greens during Saturday’s third round. Most people thought it was Louisville’s, Arizona’s, or Florida’s tournament to lose and Matt Kuchar’s turn to break through in a major championship. Few were shocked when Bubba fell behind by two strokes early during Sunday’s final round.
But Bubba, following Connecticut’s and Kentucky’s lead, rallied to play his best golf at the most important time, and won by three strokes. My takeaway is this. Next week in Boston, pay no attention to who is in the lead at the halfway mark. In fact, don’t place too much importance on who is ahead at the 20 mile mark. In keeping with this sports season, someone unexpected will assert their will on the field over the last few miles. Call me crazy, but maybe even someone not from East Africa.
When I first sketched this post in my head, I was playing around with what, if anything, these athletic contests have to do with how you and I should live. But I was forcing it because athletic competition is not a meaningful metaphor for life. Because only one team hoists the national championship trophy and only one golfer puts on the green jacket each April.
In life, the more our family members, close friends, and co-workers flourish, the better our lives. The key to that is cooperation in the form of mutual support. In contrast, family, friendship, and co-worker competition inevitably results in petty jealousies, anger, and dissension.
And yet, sometimes there are sublime moments of cooperation in the heat of athletic competition. For example, at one of last year’s major marathons, the two men leading the race passed one water bottle back and forth. Maybe they were Stoics even more focused on giving their best effort than finishing first. And often the most awe-inspiring moments are compliments of young athletes, like high schooler Megan Vogel, who flat out reject win at all costs thinking.
Jordan Spieth, a 20 year-old, made $3,879,820 playing golf this year. Two mil more than Rory Mcilroy. Spieth’s coach, Cameron McCormick, recently gave an interview that anyone that wants to get a job, or wants to get better at their job, should read.
McCormick says: A job came open at a private club, Dallas Country Club, one of the best clubs in town. I started teaching a lot at Dallas C.C. I’d do 40 hours a week in the shop and another 15 to 25 hours a week teaching. It was a quick trial by fire on what works and what doesn’t work and do I like to do this? And I did. I got some good word of mouth and some good results. I was there three and a half years. Brook Hollow, a similar club a few miles down the road, was hiring an assistant-in the fall of 2003, I became a full-time teaching pro. When I turned 30, I wrote renowned teachers in golf and asked, “Would you mind if I came and watched you work?” I wrote Butch Harmon and David Leadbetter and Randy Smith and others. Over the course of six months, I traveled around the country and observed these great coaches and gained an appreciation of what makes them great.
The “secrets” to McCormick’s considerable success: 1) When starting out, he worked 55-65 hours a week; 2) He actively sought out better opportunities; 3) He sought out respected people with much more extensive experience and spent six months traveling around the country studying the “secrets” to their success.
McCormick elaborates: I sent (letters) out to the top 75 coaches in the country and I got 25 or 30 responses. Out of those 25 or 30 responses, I got 10 or 15 affirmatives that you can come watch, with stipulations. Some of them respectfully declined, which I totally understood. The most surprising was Butch (Harmon). He said, “Absolutely, come on down, spend a couple of days,” and I did. He was fantastic.
This week I observed an excellent Spanish teacher at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, WA. After describing her teaching repertoire to the The Good Wife over dinner, she decided to carve out a day and drive 60 miles roundtrip to watch her teach. The Good Wife is already a very good Spanish teacher, but she wants to get better.
What do you want to get better at? Being a school principal, a nurse, a social worker, a swim coach, a fourth grade teacher, a pastor, a web designer? Make a list of more experienced and accomplished people in your field of choice, contact them, and carve out time to visit those willing to lift the curtain on their day-to-day work.
Gordo Byrn is a cerebral triathlon coach whose writing I often like because it’s more philosophical than normal. I like how Byrn seeks out mentors for his personal life. For example, a relatively new father, Byrn has been intentional about sitting down with more experienced parents whose examples he greatly respects. He doesn’t observe them as intensively as McCormick did other coaches, but he asks them questions and listens carefully as they share parenting insights.
Byrn has carved out a great approach to life-long learning. Granted, it’s one that requires humility because it rests on the admission that other people have greater experience and are more skilled and insightful about what excellence entails. Byrn has taken the same approach to learning more about how to be a better husband; how to manage money better; how in the end, to be a better human being.
Follow McCormick’s and Byrn’s lead. Seek out mentors willing to share the secrets of their “success” whether in your public or private lives.
The world is most passionate about futbol, the Canucks are hockey-crazed, and in the U.S. we’ve always staked our claim to baseball, basketball, and football. Then global interdependence accelerated and now we get spanked in international baseball competitions, the bigs are a multinational polyglot, our days of bball dominance are a thing of the past, and only football remains predominantly national in orientation.
One especially poignant event took place in 2000 that illustrates the globalization of professional sports. The Dallas Mavericks had five international players on the court at the same time—Obinna Ekezie (Nigeria); Eduardo Najera (Mexico); Steve Nash (Canaduh), Dirk Nowitzki (Germany); and Zhizhi Wang (China). If you need more evidence, check out an LPGA leaderboard.
Speaking of golf, TW is known around the world as a result of his amazing on course success, endless advertising, and sexcapades. Some in the media have reported that his Swedish wife is seeking $750 million (which will only worsen our balance of trade). Until recently, I would have bet 100% of my retirement assets that TW would break Jack’s major championship record. TW sits at 14, JN has 18. Now, I’d only bet 70%.
To win a major championship, I assume the following. You have to be play really well for four consecutive rounds. To do that, you must have your swing grooved going in, be mentally focused, and injury free (TW’s US Open win at Torrey was a freakish anomaly). Pre-sexcapade-escalade-firehydrant, TW usually had his swing grooved going into majors, was always off the charts focused, and usually healthy (pre-knee problem).
Times have changed. Hard to focus on the eight footer for par with 18″ of break when you’re wondering if your wife has discovered your most recent sexts. Then there’s the neck injury. Then there’s the swing coach that decided he wanted a divorce too.
All of those things can be fixed over time. After the divorce he’ll sleep around worry-free, his neck will probably return to normal, and eventually he’ll probably get someone to take seven figures to help with his swing.
Tiger is 34 years old and Watson almost won the British last year at 59. Apart from Gary Player, has there ever been a golfer more dedicated to fitness than TW? So let’s say his window is between 15 and 25 years. All he’d have to do to pass Jack is win one major every 3 to 5 years. Assuming he plays every major every year that’s winning one of twelve or twenty championships.
But globalization is the variable that gives me pause. As of May 31st, 2010, thirty-three of the top fifty golfers in the world are international players—66% (I did that in my head). Several of the top international players are considerably younger than Tiger, just as long, and nearly as talented—McIlroy, Kaymer, Schwartzel, Villegas, Ishikawa, Davies. As a result of the globalization of golf, Tiger faces increasingly deep fields, much more so than Nicklaus did. I wish I had a research assistant to dig into the comparable world ranking figures for Nicklaus when he was in his mid-30’s. I’m guessing the number of international players in the top 50, and the non-Gary Player major championship winners, paled by comparison.
There’s also anecdotal evidence that the next generation of golfers is going to be better than the current one. Jordan Spieth, a 16 year old, finished 16th in a PGA tour event two weeks ago. Last week he finished tied for 8th in a junior golf tournament, 9 strokes behind Anthony Paolucci (66-69-69).
Then there’s a non-globalization, psychological factor. Over the last ten years, nearly everyone nearly always has been intimidated by Tiger, wilting under the pressure of playing in his shadow. Now, not as much. Can he get back to the same level of physical and mental dominance? Possibly.
And that’s why I’m only putting 70% of my retirement assets on Tiger winning five or more majors.