Can we start over please?

Jack Grout was a golf teacher.

And on a cold January morning in 1964, he was preparing to give a lesson.

Lots of people resolve to start a new sport or hobby at the start of a year, so giving a beginners lesson in January wasn’t unusual.

He stood on the tee box and tipped over a bucket containing a hundred or so balls with his foot. As he did, he reminded himself of what a newbie golfer needed to know.

  • Grip. 
  • Stance. 
  • Alignment.

Fancy words for:

  • Hold the club
  • Stand to the ball
  • Aim

When it comes to golf, you don’t get more fundamental than that.

Get one of these even slightly wrong and you’ll be whacking balls all over the place.

He grabbed a few tees from his pocket and tossed them to the ground as his 10 o’clock wandered over and greeted him.

“Hey, Jack. Great to see you again. How’re things?”

“Good. You had a good year?”

“Not too bad. Got two out of the big four. Arnie nudged me out of the top spot though…”

“Never mind, there’s always next season. Anyway, let’s make a start. Take hold of this 7 iron…left hand first…about 1 inch down from the butt of the club…thumb at about 1 o’clock…”.

Jack spent the next few hours running his student through the basics.

Turns out that 1964 would be better. 

Despite winning no majors, the student would end the year leading the PGA money list, besting “Arnie” (Arnold Palmer) by the sum of $81.13.

You see, even though this was a beginners lesson, the man receiving it was no beginner.

This was Jack Nicklaus, one of the greatest golfers who ever lived.

Nicklaus began every season by returning to his long-time teacher for a lesson on the basics.

The Nicklaus/Grout relationship was a rare one. Grout had taught him golf since Nicklaus was ten years old. He gave him his first lesson. He was the man who first taught him how to hold a club.

Grout wasn’t his coach though. He didn’t travel with him to tournaments and he wasn’t at the end of the phone, fixing every minor fault that came up.

Nicklaus only saw Grout at the start of the season. 

Every single season.

Every season Nicklaus would go to him and say the words he did when he was ten:

“Teach me. I’m a beginner”

Nicklaus knew the power of fundamentals.

He knew how easy it was to slide into bad habits.

He knew the power of a reset.

And I think it’s something we can all learn from.

Especially at this time of year, when we make big plans.

In spending time thinking of the new and shiny things we can add to our lives, we often forget to think about what we already do and have.

Maybe if we worked on the basics – the things we already do – if we made those better, we wouldn’t need to add so much to our lives – to set such audacious goals?

Maybe I wouldn’t be Googling for the best vitamin supplement if I could stop snacking on chocolate and pork scratchings and just eat some veg once in a while?

Maybe I wouldn’t be in desperate need of bigger and better clients if I spent some time looking at where I’m frivolously wasting money? I mean, do I really need 173 ivory backscratchers?

Instead of looking for bigger/better all the time, perhaps I should head back to square one and make sure I’m getting the fundamentals right.

If Jack Nicklaus can learn how to hold a golf club every year, I can sure as hell pick up a beginners magic book.

What’s your money skill? And, more importantly, what would it look like to start over as a complete beginner?

Are you a PT that could benefit from remembering what it’s like to learn how to hold a barbell and where to place your feet when you squat?

Are you a web designer who could retake that beginners Udemy class you bought all those years ago to see if any bad habits have crept in?

Instead of learning a new skill, why not presume you know nothing about what you already do and learn the basics over again.

Reminding yourself what it feels like to be a beginner once in a while saves you from fundamental mistakes – the kind that can ruin you.

Hold a club wrong and you won’t win any tournaments (golfer).

Forget how to stand while holding a 500lb weight across your back and you’ll get injured (PT… or Fireman for obese people).

Becoming a beginner opens up your creativity, eases the pressure on having to be right all the time and allows you to make mistakes and “play” more, leading to new insights.

There’s power in the fundamentals. 

Fundamentals build a solid base AND help you develop new creative insights.

So before you make that massive to-do list for 2020, have a look at all the things you do already. Are there any areas of your life where a quick refresher could help?

Have a great week,


P.S. I’m thinking of offering an email/blog post writing service for people who want to be able to create lots of content, but can’t be arsed actually doing it.

4 blog posts and 4 emails a month. Every month. I write them, so you can go midget wrestling, Netflix binging or whatever else you’d rather be doing instead of staring at the flashing cursor of doom…

If this is of any interest, let me know. 🙂