My High School Golf Team with a Machiavellian Twist

As an avid golfer in high school, I spent most of my days practicing and playing competitive golf. I started out freshmen year with a serious approach for the game, but knew I needed the right mentors to take my game to that “next level”.

Niccolò Machiavelli author of The Prince

Fortunately, I was on a team with a great group of players and coaches you embodied Machiavellian principles that allowed my teammates and myself to excel in competition.

 

 

 

In his book The Prince, Machiavelli talks about how to acquire new states (new golf team members), how to deal with internal insurrection (conflicts on the golf team), and how to maintain a strong military (golf team members). My coach would be referenced as “the prince” and would try to make sure that his people (players) would respect him in all facets of coaching. He new that if his players did not feel he was providing them with the necessary knowledge to improve at golfing then he would be ousted or abdicated from his throne. Machiavelli believed that the best way to maintain power was to get the players on your side, and my coach felt the same way. He was always very willing to put aside time to help his players improve their weaknesses and become better thinkers during competitive rounds. He would often buy us golf equipment and apparel to show us that he truly cared about us. In addition, he would invite us out to play at his home course for free. He felt that if he provided us with the resources to excel that we would look favorably upon him and his decisions, which as a team we always did.

Mike Weir and his Machiavellian style caddy/coach during a golf tournament

Not only did Machiavelli embrace the tactical strategy of providing for the people, he also advocated the use of cruelty as long as it did not compromise the long-term goodwill of the individuals. In a way my coach utilized this principle through extensive conditioning that tested body and mind, and gave us all a sense what it takes to be at the top.

My coach also thought that a number of our players had “prowess”, a term Machiavelli uses in regards to an individual’s talents. The four years that I was on my high school golf team we always had at least two players that demonstrated “prowess” regularly throughout the golf season, which was a true testament to the challenging regiments we as players had to endure.

When I finally played my last high school tournament, it was very sad to leave a program that influenced me a such a positive manner. I took away numerous valuable Machiavellian principles that I plan to utilize in a coaching position in the future.

 

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4 comments

  1. brendangaughan · December 8, 2014

    In my opinion, this was the most well thought out and course relevant blog I have read so far. I am quite impressed how you were able to relate Machiavelli’s principles and teachings directly into your relationship with your coach and teammates. I would also like to commend you that there was not one instance where I was lost or unclear of the message you were trying to get at. Each and every time you compare your high school golf experiences and Machiavelli’s teachings, it was clear, precise, and straight to the point on HOW the relationship is valid and WHY we should care about it. One section of this blog I was very interested in reading (and honestly would like to know more about) was when you discuss Machiavelli’s opinion of how to deal with internal insurrection, or in what you related it to, conflicts on the golf team. I would like to hear more about these conflicts, and how you and your teammates dealt with this internal insurrection. Many athletes are familiar with how detrimental internal problems, miscommunication, and lack of dedication is for a team; and it is crucial that the teammates try and fix those problems/weaknesses before it is too late. I am very interested in what internal insurrections you and your team experienced and how you overcame the adversity.

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  2. joshblum2014 · December 8, 2014

    I do like the comparison you made between Machiavelli and your golf coach; however, I didn’t understand how you could oust your coach like you suggested. It is possible, but I played varsity sports in high school and the coach, if enough parents complained, got fired, but only at the end of the season.

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  3. jackozicz · December 8, 2014

    I was also confused at how you could overthrow your coach. It was a cool idea, but you were both the army and the players? I also would like to have seen more comparisons between Machiavelli’s teachings and your coach. Does he never take advice when he’s not asking for it? Does he hire assistants that butter him up? I think the post as a whole was a good idea.

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  4. aricerq · December 9, 2014

    A little confused about the other comments, but I have a feeling they were referencing something that has since been deleted about the overthrow of your coach. Anyway, I thought you drew an interesting and creative comparison between your golf team and Machiavelli’s philosophies. I’m not entirely sure if its exactly the same thing, but there are certainly similarities. Honestly, still dying to know more about this overthrowing of the coach.

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