6 min read

Pivot #23: Insights from Masters Week

Pivot #23: Insights from Masters Week

1st Period - You Have Time

Stewart Hagestad is a 33-year old Wall Street banker at BDT & MSD Partners and on Masters Friday he sits alongside Jordan Speith at +2, and 9 strokes back of the leader. Hagestad is fighting to make the cut line, but regardless if he plays on Saturday, he will likely be at work on Monday. 

Hagestad is an anomaly. He’s opted to pursue a full-time finance career, while playing golf on the side. He’s the 11th ranked amateur player in the world and everyone ranked ahead of him is a decade younger and bound for the PGA Tour. Through his amateur career, he’s played alongside the likes of Scottie Scheffler, Colin Morikowa, and Max Homa, but all eventually went on to pursue the professional ranks, the normal path for golfers of this caliber. 

Truth be told, Hagestad believed he just wasn’t good enough to pursue golf full time after his collegiate career at the University of Southern California, so the 6’5 golfer took his talents to Wall Street in New York. Hagestad’s story is fascinating, but a few insights from this WSJ profile highlighted the keys to Hagestad’s success. Here are several key quotes:

Those close to Hagestad say his game hasn’t improved despite working a day job. It’s improved because of it. He has an uncanny capacity to be intentional about everything he does—whether that’s personally, professionally or his obsessive pursuit to hone his golf skills during his off-hours. 
“I think him doing this while he’s working is part of his superpower,” says his friend AJ Ferraro, who’s caddying for him this week. “There’s something beneficial about having a fulfilling workday and being excited to hit golf balls when you get out of the office at night—he’s forced to be more focused in both arenas.”
On a typical day, Hagestad wakes up and gets in a 40-minute putting session, often inside his living room where he rearranges mats to practice on. After he leaves the office around 6:30 p.m., he’ll hit balls, often on a simulator. Then he gets ready to do the same thing the next day. 
His relationship with golf also fluctuates with the calendar. He throws himself into his work even more when there isn’t a big tournament coming up. But for the Masters, he began training more intensely around January. Since March, he’s asked the teams he works on to let him sneak out closer to 5:30 p.m. 
If he couldn’t always be on the course, Hagestad did find he had time to work out and access to a launch monitor. He got stronger and smashed balls into a screen over and over. 
“He’s found a way to get the most out of every second he spends practicing,” Ferraro says. “An hour or two a day for Stew might be a few days or a week’s worth of practice for the next person.” 

What’s evident is how intentional Hagestad is with his time and efforts. He works a demanding full-time job and he still found time to improve his skills enough to compete in the Masters. Not having time is no excuse for not achieving success. Hagestad is clearly masterful at allocating his time and he’s a golf nut, but if you only have half the efficiency you’re likely well on your way to achieve moderate success. 

Analyze your day-to-day. Be honest with yourself. Where are the inefficiencies in your day? Are you waking up at 7am, but could wake up at 6am? Maybe that just found yourself an extra hour to dedicate to something productive. Do you play too many video game? Does the social media algo suck you in and you doom scroll mindlessly? What if during your playing career you found one extra hour per week to dedicate to something outside hockey? That’s 52 hours per year and 520 hours over the course of a ten year career. You can become proficient in many things over 520 hours. 

If Stewart can work a full-time career and prepare to play like a pro golfer, you can play pro hockey and prepare for life after. 

2nd Period - Competence instills confidence

Sticking with the golf theme, besides checking out Phil Mickelson’s leather jacket, listen to Phil describe the analysis that goes into his iron play.

Stunning detail. It’s an inside walk through the brain of a master as he contemplates his craft. Most of us will never get to this level of mastery, but it’s good to have a North Star. The biggest takeaway: competence instills confidence. Phil Mickelson understands his swing and the exogenous variables impacting the flight of the golf ball so well that he can line up behind the golf ball and confidently know within a yard where it’s going to land. Through his 15k practice swings a month and studying different variables, Mickelson built up his golf swing competence.

Competence leads to confidence. Truly confident people aren’t just born with confidence. It’s not false bravado. There’s a difference. Someone walks into a meeting with confidence because they are competent due to their preparation. Their preparation might be years of experience, studying, rehearsing, or spending time on a problem. 

Hockey players are competent in hockey, which has been the source of confidence for most of their lives. When careers end and hockey is no longer a constant, a couple things happen. One, there is a lack of confidence, possibly an identity crisis of sorts. Anxiety about life can set in. The root of the issue is the hockey player has no other area of life they can derive confidence from because they feel incompetent outside hockey. 

Most often, hockey players try to stay in the hockey industry in some fashion because they feel that is what they know. Many players should stay in the game; hockey needs plenty of laborers to continue carrying the game forward. The issue is it can be a game of musical chairs, the chairs being well-paying, prosperous careers in hockey. For every enviable chair in the hockey industry, there are multiples of former players left behind to try to cobble together a career in the game in a less desirable manner.

The cure is to build competence in something outside hockey, so that in life after playing you will be able to find confidence in other pursuits. Learn something, find a new skill, talk to people, pursue a new endeavor, start a project. Do something. Reach out if you need help finding competence in something new. Aim for Phil Mickelson's iron game competence. 

3rd Period - Bryson DeChambeau

There’s a bunch of dudes sitting on frozen peas on this Masters Weekend, so we’re going to end the newsletter with more insights from golfers. This comes from Bryson DeChambeau, the man atop the leaderboard at 7-under.

Love his thoughts on passion being misinterpreted. The fascinating comment I want to flag is Bryson specifically mentioning creating content on YouTube as critical for impacting golf fans and changing fans’ perception of him. I don’t go out of my way to consume Bryson content, but I’ve seen clips here-and-there and, I agree, he seems a whole lot more likable now. The point being, athletes have so much power in today’s society to control their own narrative. You can and should be your own best advocate. Maintaining your own marketing machine is a valuable endeavor, and I think more of these tactics need to hit hockey. Hockey fans are craving this. More sophistication needs to be paid BY THE PLAYERS in building out their own stories.

Game Notes

  • The Risk Spectrum - Ramp Capital
  • Serena Williams Invested In 14 Unicorn Companies - Forbes
  • MLSE ownership and teams in flux - Sportsnet
  • Sidney Crosby moves into 10th on NHL all-time scoring list - The Athletic
  • He fell short of the majors. Now Big John Gavin is trying to figure out the rest of his life - The Athletic
  • How to Hit a Golf Ball Farther - WSJ
  • Fed Officials in no rush to cut rates, as inflation worries persist - Reuters
  • Why car insurance costs are skyrocketing - CNBC

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