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Finishing Runner-Up at the Hazeltine Club Championship Thumbnail

Finishing Runner-Up at the Hazeltine Club Championship

  Dan Johnson, CFP®

At the end of August, I (Dan) competed and finished runner-up in the Hazeltine National Club Championship. You are probably asking: what does this have to do with being posted on The Wealth Group’s blog about personal finance? Don’t worry; I will get there.

Dan showcasing his runner-up trophy.

This event is comprised of the best golfers that belong to Hazeltine, competing for the right to call themselves the “Club Champion”. It is very competitive; there are a number of participants who have played NCAA Division I golf, and some that have also attempted to play golf professionally.

My ride to runner-up was some of the best golf that I have played in a competitive environment, and this finish is my best individual accomplishment in golf to date.

My ability to even compete in an event like this is not something that I have inherently possessed, as though it were a gift. Throughout the different levels of golf I have played competitively (e.g. junior, high school, and collegiate), I have never been one of the top players among my peers. My progression as a golfer has been a steady climb of incrementally improving my game each year.

Now why do I say all of this, and what does it have to do with your personal finances?

I say this because my journey as a competitive golfer parallels the financial journey that our team so often sees with our own clients. Reaching financial independence takes place by proactively choosing to do the right financial behavior when different opportunities and choices are presented to you.

Just as my average golf score gradually has improved through consistent and purposeful practice, so does your financial progression take place.

More often than not when our team initially begins a new client relationship, that client is not able to jump right in to saving an ideal amount for their long-term plan.

That is just fine; we understand that. However, we also know that over time and working together, we will be fine-tuning their ongoing financial behaviors to help them eventually get to that point of strong financial health. 

One exercise that we like to do with our clients is take a moment to celebrate the victories in their financial journey. We take three meaningful categories that each person has complete control over:

  1. How much money they save/invest.

  2. How much debt they pay off.

  3. How much money they give away.

When the client sees these numbers both for the current year and when comparing year one of working together versus current year – the client is often shocked. These numbers really start to add up; especially when these clients choose to make steady improvements on simply saving a bit more or increasing their mortgage payment by a small amount.

Austin and I posed this simple question to a client we recent met with:

“How do you feel like you are doing financially this year?”

The response:

“Not much has changed.”  


Over the past three years, this client has more than doubled their annual long-term investing, continued to increase their mortgage principal payoff year-over-year, and their annual giving has risen by close to 30%.  

Now that is significant!  

So, why did they answer that it feels like not much has changed? This is because they have consistently chosen to do those small next steps financially that often do not feel like much, but when you add it up over time, yields an incredible result.  

As you continue to build-up your good financial behaviors, taking a moment to see the progress you have made can be a very encouraging and motivating exercise. This will help keep your eye on the prize. Furthermore, as you continue taking these next steps that lead to financial independence, our team will be right there with you guiding you through each opportunity that presents itself.  

I encourage you to continue choosing to do the right thing financially, as it is these small decisions that steadily build upon each other in order to help you reach your ultimate goals.  


Because The Wealth Group, Austin B. Colby & Associates is independent of Raymond James, the expressed written opinions above are our own and not necessarily reflective of Raymond James’ opinions.