In The Loop – June 7, 2024

Many people ask what lobbyists do once the legislature adjourns. They watch trends, follow up on unresolved issues, reconnect with clients, gather Intel on upcoming campaigns, and continue strategizing for results.

With the Travelers Championship Golf Tournament approaching (June 17-23 ) at the TPC Golf Course in Cromwell, CT, I started to think about similarities between golf professionals and political candidates. Both assess risks and opportunities, whether on the golf course or in the political arena. At first glance, golf and campaigning seem worlds apart, but both require strategy, precision, and endurance.

Strategic Planning

Golf and campaigning demand detailed strategy. Golfers navigate obstacles on the course, and candidates plan every move, from targeting voters to managing calendars and ads. Jack Nicklaus, a golf legend, said, “Success depends almost entirely on how effectively you learn to manage the game’s two ultimate adversaries: the course and yourself.” This applies to campaigns as candidates manage public perception and stay focused under pressure. For instance, Republican Glenn Youngkin’s focus on local education issues was crucial in his 2023 gubernatorial victory in a pretty much democratic Virginia.

Precision and Adaptability

Golfers must account for variables like wind and slope, just as candidates use data analytics to tailor messages to key demographics. The National Golf Foundation reports that the average golfer spends 15 hours per month practicing -not talking about the PROs soon to appear in Cromwell! Similarly, campaigns invest heavily in targeted advertising and voter outreach, as seen in the NY State 14th district congressional election where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used micro-targeting techniques on social media to engage young voters in the 2024 Democratic primary.

Endurance and Persistence

Both golf and campaigning require endurance. A standard round of golf takes up to four hours (okay for most of us 5 -6 hours), while campaigning can last over a year. Arnold Palmer said, “Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated,” which also describes campaigning. President Biden’s 2020 campaign persisted through setbacks and virtual events to win a very challenging controversial election.

Community and Networking

Building relationships is crucial in both golf and campaigning. Golf often serves as a networking tool, and successful campaigns depend on strong support networks to create strong grassroots and coalitions of diversity of support. In the recent Chicago mayoral race, former educator and Cook County Council board member Democratic candidate, Brandon Johnson focuses on a strong grassroots approach and community engagement strategy to secure a surprising victory.

See there is a connections between golf and campaigning – they do share a lot of similarities of strategy, precision, endurance, and networking. The perfect balance of planning, adaptability, persistence, and the ability to build and maintain relationships is key to both “games”. The strategic similarities between the green and the campaign trail where the intricate blend of art and science is essential for the “win.”

My question for you is – why can we name professional athletes who try their luck with political campaigning (remember the golfers, basketball players, football players, and even WWE wrestlers) but can you name any well know semi or professional golfer who caught the bug and dipped their toes into a campaign? Doesn’t it seem like a perfect training ground for the next set of potential candidates for public office?

Maybe we’ll see you on the golf course soon. READ THE FULL IN THE LOOP HERE

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