The Secret to Improving Your Finances, Bench Press, and Golf Game -- Among Other Things

The Golf Game

Three years ago I left the world of Public Accounting and struck out on my own. As a part of that, a friend introduced me to golf.

The magic with golf is in the fact that you only need to do it well about five percent of the time, but that five percent is so satisfying that you endure the other 95 percent of the game. Especially when you’re just starting out.

Beginning in the Summer of 2007, after several days of buckets at the driving range, I took to the course for my first nine holes. I don’t remember what I shot — I think it was a 65. The score didn’t matter to me though — I was hooked! I went home and began building a spreadsheet where I could track my scores every time I played. A few days later I figured there must have been a better way, so I Googled a bit and found StatDoctor. Since that day, I’ve logged every single round.

For the first twenty rounds or so I just tracked the score, but I quickly saw there was value to be had in gathering a bit more data. So for the past three years I’ve been tracking my score, bunker plays, fairways hit, greens in regulation, and number of putts per hole. Just recently I started tracking the distance of my drives.

Going to the range and pounding out buckets of balls works. It gets you to a point where you’re making some pretty good shots. But knowing exactly what I need to work on, where the weak spots are, what strengths my game has…that makes my practice and work extremely effective because I am more aware of what I should be working on. Just hitting buckets for the sake of hitting them…there’s a better way.

A month ago I had a consistent shot at 110 yards with my 54′ club, and 85 yards with my 60′ wedge. I saw that I needed to dial in some more distances because my greens in regulation were really low when compared to my fairways hit. I went to the range, scoped out distances at 75, 60, and 45 yards and went to work. I hit an entire bucket toward a puddle that was 45 yards away. Now when I find I’m at that distance, I know exactly what to do.

Here are my number of greens hit in regulation for 2009.

Since I began tracking in StatDoctor, my +/- par (for me, so far, they’re all par+):

Tracking my golf scores so meticulously (and consistently) has given me more desire to practice, more insight into what I should practice, and much better results than I could have otherwise expected.

The Bench Press

Three days ago, on October 12, 2009 I was issued a challenge:

In January, perform as many bench press reps at 210 lbs as possible, spread across three sets.

There’s a good way, and a losing way to go about doing this. At the risk of tipping my hand to my challenger by way of this blog post, I’m not going to reveal everything I’ll be doing to make sure I’m ready to dominate come January, but here’s the gist:

1) If I’m going to win this challenge I’m going to need to increase my strength. For my starting point (first data point), I found my 1 rep maximum (RM) this morning. I’m not going to divulge what it is, for competitive reasons! My 1RM is going to be tracked meticulously until the duel is done.

2) Once a foundation of greater strength is…forged…I’ll need to make sure my muscles can perform optimally for endurance, since this is also a muscular endurance test. I’ll make attempts every other week and log my performance in my workout journal (along with what I ate beforehand, how much sleep I had, and my overall feeling prior to the lifting).

3) The fact of the matter is that I’m going to need to gain some weight because the strength’s not going to come nearly as much from my current build. On New Year’s Eve of 2008 I wrote:

Physical – No soda this year. H2O, here I come! Also, I want to get my BFP to 9%. In years past I’ve also prescripted some workout for the year and about 90 days into the new year I’m already tired of the workout and want to do something else. So I’m shooting for a results-oriented goal here of a change in bodyfat, rather than a task-oriented goal. Let the task change as necessary/desired, I know the result I want to get.

I’ve managed not to drink any soda this year, and my BFP is down to 11% (from 15% at the beginning of 2009), but yeah, that’s over. Because of the duel, that resolution re: the bodyfat is going out the window.

So how will I gain weight strategically (and with clean food)? I’m employing Lose It. It’s the greatest iPhone application in existence:

I’ll track every calorie in, calories burned, and my bench press (strength/endurance) results.

The working out will be simple because that’s done an hour a day and then I don’t have to think about it anymore. This thing with the food is going to be tricky and will likely prove to be the more difficult part of the task. That is why it’s so critical that I track religiously so I can stay motivated to eat clean, frequently, and a lot.

Your Finances

If you want to improve anything about your finances then you need to pick some meaningful data points and begin tracking. Make some goals and then record data consistently until you reach your goals. You’ll find that tracking your results provides you with useful information for better decision-making and keeps you motivated to stay your course. Keep things simple and actionable.