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Founder Files - In defense of golf


Can you work while you play? 

What is work? When is work?

After you read this you’ll see that you should be golfing and that golfing is good for your job.

In my best Ben Matlock voice: 

“Your Honor, I’m going to prove that my client was not only working yesterday -  while playing 18 Holes at the club - but also that he was WORKING BETTER than if he were in the office!”

For the younger audience, maybe insert Judge Judy or Steve Harvey.


JUDGE: “On what grounds?”

PROSECUTION: Golf isn’t work! Unless you go on to prove that Mr. Newman is a professional golfer earning money while he plays, this direction has NO VALUE TO THE COURT!

DEFENSE: “Not only will I prove that Mr. Newman made money on the course yesterday, I’ll prove that HE ALSO conceived multiple ideas about how to grow business AND made multiple cognitive connections that will help him in FUTURE BUSINESS VENTURES!”

Back to my normal “Sam” voice.

Ok yeah, we’ve all heard it before, “golf is good for business”. But I want you to hear me out on another type of good for business. Not the type that puts you up on a pedestal because you have a country club membership. Not the type that garnishes adoration for skill. And not the networking type. I’m going to talk about solo, mental, present moment golf and how it can lead to cognitive connections that are otherwise inaccessible. 

Cognitive connections?

Think Einstein day-dreaming the theory of relativity or the legend that tells of Newton discovering gravity on a blanket in a park, not in a lab. Maybe you have come up with a solution to a problem while taking a shower or after waking in the middle of the night. Many great creators leave notepads by their beds for this reason. It’s well cited that great ideas can come to us when we aren’t focused on them. I know it’s not intuitive but it’s being proven true all the time. 

Until we can properly and positively map the process of the millions of fired impulses and neuro-connections, we won’t have physical evidence of this. 



Okay I’m getting carried away with the Matlock trial stuff. Back to the message. 

It’s not scientifically proven but it is known. Being in the zone or flow state occurs from 8-12Hz. It is here that the brain is in Alpha state. Even slower is Theta, coming in between 4-8Hz. ‘Theta State’ is where we have the most creativity and intuition. More on this later.

Have you every heard the term “freaking out”? I love this term because it can be tweaked to explain the difference between being in a low frequency brain state (4-12Hz) and a higher, more stressed frequency 80-100Hz (high Gamma). 

It’s not that higher frequency is always bad. Gamma is the frequency range associated with learning. However, too much of this can lead to anxiety or stress. You’ve felt it if you’ve ever taken a golf lesson, sometimes called paralysis by analysis. You are getting too much “learning” information (gamma) and losing touch with your “sensing” (theta/alpha) mind - essentially getting further and further from flow state with every new tip the pro gives you. This is why you perform more poorly as the lesson goes on even though it makes more sense logically that the more information you get, the better you’d do.

PROSECUTION: “Your honor I don’t see where this is going.”

JUDGE: “Mr. Matlock, do you have a point?”

DEFENSE: “If you’ll allow me to explain…”

See, when we play golf, or do any other activity that brings our sensing mind (Alpha brain) to the forefront, we open the door to creativity, innovation, and intuition. Visualizing a shot flying through the air, making a practice swing and feeling the club brush through the turf just perfectly, hearing the ball compress on the sweet-spot… these are all low frequency experiences and, the more of them we get, the more open we are to cognitive connections

If you’re a bar-tender and you’re golfing in flow state you might concoct a new drink. If you’re a dentist you may think of a new marketing campaign like “tee it up for your teeth”! Or if you’re me, you might think of an email campaign where Ben Matlock is arguing in defense of playing golf :)

JUDGE: “Would the defense PLEASE come to a conclusion? It’s getting to lunch time.”

DEFENSE: “Your Honor, while playing 18 holes of golf, my client was in the flow state and therefore was intentionally putting himself in a position of creativity. It is this type of creativity that has led him to be the top sales associate at his firm for the past 30 years. I can go on and on about the benefits of him playing golf but at this point I think it’s clear; my client NEEDS golf in order to be good at his job!

Courtroom erupts in mayhem!

JUDGE: “ORDER!!” Bangs gavel. “ORDER IN THE COURT!!”

DEFENSE: briefcase clasps shut and without looking up. “I rest my case.”

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