Are good golfers also good investors? A pro in both the game and the market draws out the parallels between golf and investing in the market.

More than perhaps any other sport, golf requires certain character attributes that go beyond mere athletic performance. Without traits like emotion management, positive temperament and an ability to make clearheaded strategic decisions, a golfer might as well be swinging a hockey stick.

These same attributes—among others—also define successful investors. Traits like patience, focus and persistence could just as easily apply to a savvy investor as it could to a professional golfer.

Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Advisor Dick Connolly knows the similarities all too well—he’s been excelling at both for decades. Connolly began caddying, golfing, and groundskeeping as boy and later played high-level tournaments in his teens and in college.

And on the financial side, Connolly has been recognized by Barron’s as one of the nation’s top financial advisors, a job he loves with the zeal of a professional athlete. So when we asked Connolly how hitting the links is like investing, he didn’t whiff.  He narrowed it down to 7 key tips:

Focus on the Target

As you swing your club, you need to fix your mind on where you want the ball to land. The same is true when you pick a stock or build a portfolio. Both investing and golf require patience—because even the pros only hit an ace every few thousand shots.

“If you hit a bad shot or two and you lose your patience, it’s over. The same is true in investing,” Connolly said. “Let’s assume you like a stock and you buy it. You’re not buying it for tomorrow, you’re buying for the long term. If you buy and it goes down, you may consider buying more. Unless something’s changed at the company, you should stay with the stock. That requires patience.”

 

Traits like patience, focus and persistence could just as easily apply to a savvy investor as it could to a professional golfer.

Be Bold, but Not Reckless

What separates courage from folly? That depends on your situation in the tournament—or in life. Just as a player in a close game needs to putt more cautiously than a player with a seven-stroke lead, an investor with a short time horizon must choose more conservatively. “Young people can make a mistake in the market and make it back. Somebody in their 70s, if they make a bad mistake, they may not have time to make it back,” Connolly said.

Choose Your Angle of Attack

While focusing on the target is important, you can’t wish the ball across the fairway. You’ve got to choose the right tools and strategy to get you to the goal.

“Decide how you want to attack the hole: Which side of the fairway you want to be on, which side of the green you want to be on when you’re hitting your second shot. It’s the same thing with investing. You don’t have all your money in just one sector or asset class. You diversify. The angle of attack is: What percentage do you want to have in each category?” Connolly said.