Commencement - May 3 & 4

Plan for your visit to campus to celebrate your graduate. All event details are located HERE

Arnold Palmer was a talented golfer, prolific golf course designer, and one heck of a person. He showed the world the value of consistency, hard work, and fun — all attributes that make for a better golf game and a better life.

Palmer also helped improve the game (how it’s viewed, appreciated and played) through his instructional videos. With popular videos on swing alignment, chipping, gripping and ripping, he has been the unseen personal coach for generations of golfers, up-and-comers and duffers alike. In every aspect, he has shared more than a love of the game, he’s also shared life lessons from golf.

University of the Cumberlands head golf coach Taylor Riggs believes that Palmer's efforts transformed countless lives: "Most times in sports we are taught that we have to beat the other team, show no mercy, and be super competitive, because that is what our society has turned sports into. Golf, however, is different. Golf is a game of character and appreciation."

Golf is a unique sport that offers many life lessons to those willing to learn. Whether you're already a golfer or just thinking about giving golf a try, you will be able to learn more about what it takes to have strong discipline, a hard work ethic, and the perseverance to keep going even when the game gets hard.

So, just what does golf teach you? Highlighted below are a few of the most valuable lessons golfers can use in everyday life:

1. Cooperation is key

Golf may be a competition, but it is underscored by a clear spirit of cooperation. Even the most bitter enemies can find common ground on the green. As Riggs explains, golf is "a game where two businessmen who hate each other can go and enjoy a day away from the office."

Part of what makes golf—and that spirit of cooperation—work rests in the score-keeping nature of the game. Unless you’re in an organized event where objective officials and spectators are watching, opponents have to trust each other to honestly and accurately keep score. They even “attest” to the results by signing the shared scorecard. 

2. Humility is valuable

Many of the world's best golfers are shockingly humble. They recognize the talent against which they compete, and they know that they're always a swing away from being tested. Win or lose, they show other players the respect they deserve.

It’s not a bad characteristic to cultivate. As you can see, being humble opens up the possibility of learning from others, of improving our situations, both in our game and in our lives. It creates opportunities for us to find mentors, people who are willing to share what they learn and motivate us to succeed. The key here is a willingness to give credit where it’s due and learn from it. That and, of course, practice.

3. Hard work is more important than luck

Luck plays a surprisingly small role in the game of golf. There is only so much somebody with raw talent can accomplish. Palmer once admitted that his luck increased tenfold when he worked hard. This is imperative in every aspect of life. The more you practice, the "luckier" you are likely to get. 

4. Never say never

Whether it’s learning the game of golf or seeking to improve ourselves by going back to school to earn a degree, the smallest obstacle or the littlest failure can stop us in our tracks. Unless it’s an old an undesirable habit, giving up is easy. Too easy. 

With hard work, even an inexperienced golfer can make great strides and accomplish great things. Golf teaches athletes not to give up, even in the face of repeated failures. Life is a lot like this with the old adage “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

5. Silence is golden

Most athletic pursuits are high volume. There's nothing wrong with a raucous atmosphere, but many people fail to recognize the value of silence. Golfers revel in the peace and quiet, which allows them to better focus on their technique. Golf teaches us that there is beauty in silence which is where growth can be achieved. This is true in both business and personal relationships.

6. Make the most of each situation

The circumstances in golf are rarely ideal. Shots often must be taken from the worst imaginable locations. Complaining doesn't accomplish anything — good golfers accept the situation, strategize and remedy it the best they can, while abiding by the rules of the game. Ben Hogan had a great quote: “The most important shot in golf is the next one.” This acceptance of your circumstances and recalculating can pay dividends in a variety of other settings.

These days, it seems every shot we take—whether it’s on the green or taking a chance on a career change—presents new and seemingly insurmountable obstacles. At University of the Cumberlands, we’re all about strategizing ways to overcome these obstacles. From helping students earn a coaching degree online to finding the right financing to sinking a putt, we’re here to help.

7. Don't ruminate on failures

The longer golfers spend worrying about bad shots, the less capable they are of making up for those bad shots. Each shot is a different story — and a chance for redemption. This concept is incredibly valuable in daily life, especially in academia and the work world. Everybody comes up short sometimes, but no matter how bad we mess up, there is always an opportunity to turn it around.

8. Jitters are normal and controllable

First tee jitters happen even for the best golfers. Years of training may not eliminate these jitters, but with practice, they can be controlled — and even harnessed for better performance. Just ask UC’s men’s and women’s golf teams which are annually projected to excel in the regular season and often expected to compete for championships. Pressure is part of the game (of golf and life). Learning how to optimize the jitters will pay dividends for you in the long term.

9. Visualization is a useful tool

Visualization can be valuable in a variety of situations and environments, including the golf course. Before swinging, it helps to visualize every element of the maneuver, and what will happen to the ball after it is hit. The end product will not always look like what the golfer visualized, but this strategy can lead to better results. 

Athletes, business professionals, actors, performers—professionals in all walks of life use visualization to help them achieve success. They credit it for the competitive edge they perceive it gives them. But, more than that, it’s a tool that helps them believe in themselves and their skills. And it motivates them to do their best. If it can work in athletic performance, why not in job performance? 

10. The big picture is important

Golf is a series of swings, but each swing aims for one specific goal. Golfers need to know where they are going and how they plan to get there. The same can be said of pursuing a college degree, a career field, or any other major goal.

This anonymous quote sums it up, “in golf as in life it is the follow through that makes the difference.”

Are You Ready to Follow Through?

Are you thinking about upping your game? Maybe you could use a few more life lessons from golf, perhaps in the form of sports coaching degree from an accredited university? Learn what it takes to help others perform better—at work, at home and at play—with a master’s in coaching degree from University of the Cumberlands.

University of the Cumberlands thanks Arnold Palmer for his contribution to the game of golf as well as to the game of life.