Golf and Day Trading: Mastering the Mental Game

Golf and trading day

Author: Jeff Park

Jeff is a professional trader with 17 years of market experience in day trading stocks, options, and futures. Jeff is the head trader at LiveStream Trading with a strong focus on a systematic trading process. He provides daily live trade walk-throughs, mentorship, and live trading education for his team members on a daily basis.

Hello traders and golfers! As some of you may know, I've recently taken up golf and I've gotten pretty serious about the game.

During my first season I couldn't believe how many parallels can be drawn between the mechanics and mental game of both day trading and golf, and how both require a huge amount of time, patience, and coaching to master.

In this article I'm going to outline some of the major similarities between the two which I hope helps you to improve your game. Let's get started!

The first driving range experience I had was pretty bad, and it didn't bother me because my expectations were in the right place. I knew that golf is a hard game and I knew it was going to take time to master, just like it did with my day trading.

Golf and day trading

The Beginning

I hit about 50 balls and only about 20% of my shots were good (fairly straight shots that would be "in play" on the course).

I had a strong swing and some natural ability in my swing, but the mechanics of my swing were not correct.

Granted, I hit a few balls straight down the middle about 260 yards, lets be honest, 10/50 decent shots is not a good success rate and if I took that out onto a golf course, I would not fare well.

When I was thinking of these statistics I drew the parallel to day trading and investing in my head.

When I first started trading my success rate was low because I didn't have the mechanics of my trading system down and I was taking blind swings at stocks, much like I was taking blind swings at my golf ball.

Have Realistic Expectations

I knew that golf is a hard game, much like day trading, so I didn't expect to be great my first time out. Having realistic expectations as a beginner in either golfing or day trading is essential. There is a learning curve, and its going to take some time to get good at these activities.

Much like anything: repetition, practice, and hard work leads to mastery.

You can always improve your skills in sports or in trading

The Practice

Learning how to swing properly is much like learning how to build a profitable trading system. You can spend years swinging (or trading) the wrong way, or you can find some serious short cuts by learning from someone who knows the game well.

After my 5th or 6th time at the driving range I was hitting the ball much better, but the consistency still wasn't there so I decided to take a short cut and it was the best thing I've ever done for my game.

I took an hour long lesson with a pro. He showed me what was wrong with my swing and gave me some advice on how to improve it.

I could have went on swinging the wrong way for months or years, and the problem is once you've taught yourself the wrong way and instilled those bad habits, its much harder to change and do things the right way.

Instead of taking the long and hard road, this course pro was able to show me exactly what I needed to change in my swing before any bad habits were seriously developed. 

Learning Proper Training Methods for Golf and Day Trading

As a day trading coach and teacher, one of the most challenging obstacles I face is trying to get people to "unlearn" the bad habits and techniques that they've adopted or instilled in their trading over the first months or years of their career. 

The same way this golf coach was able to correct my swing before I got in the habit of hitting the ball wrong, I want to get traders learning the proper methods, setups, risk management techniques, and timing points in their trading that are going to get them off to a profitable start and last a lifetime.


Learn from a Professional

I can not stress this enough: The BEST thing I did for my golf game was spending a few hours with a pro. It was $100 per lesson and worth every single penny. It is much harder to break a bad habit than it is to learn the right habits from the very beginning!

If you are thinking about approaching the markets professionally and you want to learn a system right from the start that can produce results and get you on the right path, I recommend joining our trading group and watching our free trading course for members to get you started on the right path.

You can then learn my methods, follow my trades, and most importantly, skip the hardships of trading from scratch and know exactly which trade setups work and the the rules of the game to be profitable.

Train your day trading skills

Applying What I’ve Learned

I didn't play the course my first time golfing. I planned to hit the driving range at least a dozen times before I even attempted to play a round and get at least one lesson with a pro.

This is similar to the way a new investor or day trader should practice first on paper (simulated trading) before attempting to trade a live account.

Don't skimp on practice, and definitely consider consulting with a professional so you can get off on the right foot with some proper guidance and advice. 

Practice isn't entirely helpful unless you know what to be practicing. Once the golf pro told me what I needed to work on I had much more productive practice sessions.

The same is true about day trading: if you are practicing trading stocks on a simulated account, you are likely not going to improve unless you know what to be practicing.

Practice the Right Trading Strategy

Learn the setups and rules from a trading system that works, and then practice those trades on your simulated account until you see consistent results, and then you will be ready to move over to the live account and put what you've practiced into a live session. 

So, after about a dozen driving range practice sessions, a couple lessons with the course pro, I was finally ready to play my first round of golf. 

Was it a great round? Of course not! But I did much better than I expected, and I know that putting the practice time in beforehand and getting some coaching helped me tremendously and I'm only going to get better every time I go for a round. 

I am 100% addicted to working on getting my golf game as solid as my day trading strategy is. It will take time, but I really enjoy the process. 

Once you see that your swing (or trading strategy) mechanics are working consistently, then you put them into practice on the course (or in the markets!).

Next comes the mental game...

Success in day trading depends more on mental factors

The Mental Game

One of the hardest parts of trading stocks (and playing golf) is the mental game.

The biggest skill I was able to transfer directly from my day trading to my golf game was the ability to move forward from each shot without being mentally bogged down from the previous shot.

A lot of golfers start to play poorly after a couple bad shots. The professionals are able to block out their emotions from previous shots and only focus on the next shot going forward being the best shot they can take.

As a professional day trader, I have an average win rate of 80% on my overall trades (more like 85% on my short signals alone). Knowing this and though years of experience I don't let my last trade affect my next one. Over a series of 100 trades I'm going to win on 80 of them on average. That is a statistical fact. 

Failure Should Not Shake Your Character

With that being known, if I take a small loss on one trade, the odds are highly in my favor of getting the next trade right. Since my trading is a very systematic and almost a mathematical approach,  I think the same way with my golf game: if I hit 80% shots right down the middle, then there's always going to be the 20% that I don't hit well.

Its the mindset I have going forward after those 20% of bad shots that will determine whether I can stay on the statistical path and let the percentages play out. 

If I get frustrated, discouraged, or otherwise flustered by a bad shot, its much more likely my next shot is going to be affected. 

Resetting your mind after a bad golf shot or a bad trade is absolutely key to making sure that you are thinking objectively and approaching every single shot (or trade) with the same enthusiasm as your first. 

In day trading, you need to bravely face failure

In Conclusion

One of the things I love the most about day trading, investing, and golfing is the fact that you never 100% master it. 

There's always something to learn, there's always something to improve on, and the mental aspect of these activities are often what determines your success or failure.

I hope you enjoyed the article. Whether you find yourself on the golf course or managing a trade in the market, make sure you position yourself for success by mastering the mechanics of your game, implementing proper practice, and keeping a healthy positive mindset. 

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