I recently came across a quote that resonated deeply with me:

“You say ‘amateur’ as if it were a dirty word. ‘Amateur’ comes from the Latin word ‘amare’, which means to love. To do things or for the love of it.” – Mozart in the Jungle Series

There is a stigma associated with being a professional as opposed to an amateur. This distinction isn’t limited to athletics but extends to various pursuits. If you don’t approach a task with the same level of seriousness, experience, or dominance, you’re labeled an “amateur.” This sentiment is often expressed with comments like, “that’s an amateur move.”

Having experienced being an amateur and a professional, I’ve come to appreciate the beauty in both. I believe that if you’re a master in a given subject, you possess the heart of an amateur but the mind of a professional.

My journey with golf began because I simply loved the game – the thrill of hitting the purest shot, leisurely walks down the fairway, camaraderie with playing partners, the scenic beauty of a golf course, and the continuous challenge of mastering the game.

Over time, as I set my sights on elevating my game to the professional level, my motivations evolved. Going to the range ceased to be a choice but a requirement to achieve a goal. Experimenting with different shot shapes wasn’t driven by curiosity alone but by the necessity to outperform my competition. It’s not that joy and curiosity were absent, but they weren’t always the primary driving forces. I don’t consider this shift inherently negative; rather, the hard work, discipline, sacrifice, and understanding of my purpose were instrumental in achieving my goals.

Transitioning to the professional level marked a label change, not a change in heart. I had been approaching my game and myself with a professional mindset since I was 14 or 15.

Now, a decade later, having experienced both sides of the spectrum, I equally value each perspectives.

One of my favorite movies, Chariots of Fire, perfectly illustrates the amateur vs. professional dynamic. It narrates the story of two British runners from the 1924 Olympics – Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell. Abrahams, adopting a “win at all costs” approach, hires the best coach of the time. On the other hand, Liddell, a missionary, runs for the sheer love of it, feeling God’s glory as he races. Despite their amateur status, Abrahams treats himself as a professional, while Liddell runs out of joy and as a vehicle to share his purpose. Both achieved Olympic gold in separate races. However, in my opinion, Liddell was a powerful combination of amateur and professional. 

Golf stands out as a remarkable sport where individuals can compete at a high level throughout their lives, whether as amateurs or professionals. Having experienced both sides, I’ve observed that the best performers possess the heart of an amateur and the mindset of a professional, irrespective of their “status.” Their desire to play is rooted in love (amateur), and their preparation systems are designed to pursue mastery (professional).

Looking back, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that it’s not about the label but what resides in our hearts and minds. So, here’s to celebrating amateurs, professionals, and especially those who find a harmonious balance in between.

The Good Stuff

I have played Titleist my whole life, but I must admit that I never truly understood the detailed distinctions between each golf ball model. This fall, I had the privilege of participating in a video project with Titleist,  to educate golfers about the most suitable golf ball for their game. The first video, which compares the Pro V1, Pro V1x, and Pro V1x Left Dash, was released last week. In this video, you will see me explaining the differences in each model. Being a part of this project was an absolute blast. It not only broadened my knowledge of golf balls but also allowed me to refine my on-camera skills. I definitely had the heart of an amateur for this project:)