How to play the game

Golf is a four letter word

Golf could just be the most frustrating sport on earth. What could be simpler? You stand still. The ball doesn’t move. All you have to do is hit the ball straight and stay out of trouble. You then keep doing broadly the same, time after time. It changes only because courses and weather conditions vary. Easy. And yet the game beat me when I was about 30. I had to stop playing to preserve my sanity. I hated myself. I’ve decided to try again in 2017. It’s one of my new year resolutions. Happy New Year by the way.

Bunkers, Water hazards, Trees, Out of Bounds…..

Golf courses are set up to scare us. “Whatever you do, don’t look down at the large expanse of water directly in front of the tee”. Lose focus and trouble follows. Guess where my ball is headed!


The bad news of 2016 ensured it was a challenge for investors to maintain their focus. The press kicked off the year with “Shares have the worst start for a century!” This is what I said 12 months ago. The bad start was caused by the FED increasing interest rates (The taper tantrum) and a general contraction of US company profits. The future looked bad. This was swiftly followed by The EU referendum, a collapse in Sterling, Donald Trump, continuing oil price volatility, the commercial property stampede, ongoing middle east conflict, terrorist attacks and the migrant crisis. I could go on but you get the picture.

In any year there are many different events that can cause investors to worry. The common link is how we hear about each of those events.

The media reports aren’t necessarily the news

We’ve all heard of fake news recently. Events that just didn’t happen, springing up around the world looking like real news. But I think the main problem is media distortion. Real news but twisted to suit an agenda. Especially the political, economic and investment sections of the media. Now I believe it is imperative we continue to have a free press. It is the cornerstone of any democracy. However in today’s on-line world where news success is measured in “likes” and clicks towards on-page advertisements, I do wonder where the line is drawn between “fake news” and “biased or mis-reported real news”. Both types of news are reported for personal gain. I believe manipulated news stories have cost many individuals £millions.

We have to remain critical of all news stories. University taught me to be critical and always prove my sources of data. For many investors it could just be easier and more profitable to avoid the news. Today the Times leads with “Britain has world’s top economy”. The headline is based on the fact that the UK ended the year with the world’s fasted growing GDP. A very good news story. The BBC News app makes no mention of this whatsoever. A new fact is a new fact, it’s news. It seems that the BBC don’t like this reality.


A year in investment is like a long Par 5

As we stand on the 1st tee it’s imperative we focus on the spot on the fairway we are aiming for. Of course we are aware of all the hazards around us, but we have assessed them all and understand the threat they pose to our chosen outcome. Just concentrate on our chosen outcome and rely on our skill and judgement to deliver something close. There is always room either side of perfection.

We need a further two shots from even ground on the fairway to deliver us to the green and in a position to 2 put to make our par. We need to keep the ball on the straight and narrow to stand a chance. All along the fairway lie psychological traps to stop us from achieving this goal. Having to take a shot from the rough, from behind a tree or from within a bunker probably means you won’t finish the hole in 5 shots.

The scorecard

Today is the 6th January, it is the final day of our investment quarter. It takes a little time for unit prices to update and for us to present your valuations to you. We will have collated all of the data by next Friday. Early indications show that last year we all had a consistent round. We all made some money. We beat all those who let the media lead them. Those amongst us who took the most risks on the most difficult holes once again did the best. We now move on to another round, we must put the past round behind us, keep our ball in play and focus on the pin. Here’s to 2017.

Who want’s to play golf with us?

Last year we supported a golf day for charity at the beautiful Warwickshire Golf Course. This year we will be doing the same. Please join us. The more the merrier! It’s a good opportunity to meet like-minded clients and support a good cause. Once again we will pay for golf rounds, all you have to do is get yourself there and back. Many of us will be staying in Warwick for a day or two, so please come along and maybe make a weekend out of it.

The 353 golf day 9th June.
For more details please add a comment or speak to Lesley.

newest oldest most voted
Notify of

Thanks for the entertaining blog. It is very easy to get scared by whatever constitutes “news” these days. I always recall a wise man once said “at times like these it’s important to remember there have always been times like these”. Keeping the game simple is the best way to do well.

Val Hanrahan
Val Hanrahan

Val, Barrie and I have already booked our accommodation at the new hotel!
Thank you.

Keith Jones
Keith Jones

Spoiling a good walk for charity seems OK but I don’t do Golf sadly! Hope everyone has a great time and here’s to eye on the ball finance for the New Year

Dick Calver
Dick Calver

Good day Howard and Lesley.
It was such a surprise to see you and the family on the path above Grasmere.
Good to see you having a bit of down time and relaxing. Sorry your party could not find a seat in the Badger Bar, our party had a fine lunch but missed you!!!
Best wishes to all at HJS and thanks for all the hard work you and the team have put in over the last year.
Happy New Year,
Dick & Angie

Julie Brook
Julie Brook

Happy New Year Howard and Lesley and all in the office there!
Love the blog and so true about news and reality! I read a news headline a few days ago that predicted the FTSE could break through 9000 in 2017. Well we will see won’t we?
Not a golf fan I am afraid… I find tennis more appealing however I hope you enjoy the golf day and a great 2017!
Thank you and the team for all your hard work, Julie and Geoff