Sunday Snippet: Ken Venturi

“I don’t believe you have to be better than everybody else. I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be.”

You may or may not be all that familiar with Ken Venturi. He isn’t quite as household a name as Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods, but Venturi was a very successful professional golf player in his own right.

Born in San Francisco, Kenneth Venturi rocketed onto the golf scene in 1956 when he finished second in the Masters tournament after leading from the first round. Keeping in mind that he was still an amateur at the time. He went on to gain 14 victories on the PGA Tour and the crown of PGA Player of Year in 1964, the same year where he was named as the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. After retiring in 1967, Venturi went on to a very successful 35-year career as a color commentator for CBS Sports.

You can take the time to read Getting Up & Down to get a better sense of his over 50-year career in golf, but the quote above really captures his philosophy both on and off the course. It really is important to wake up each morning with the goal of being a better version of yourself than you were yesterday.

Yes, professional sports is an inherently competitive endeavor and you will be necessarily comparing yourself to your contemporaries. At the same time, you have to recognize the quandary of comparing yourself to others and transcend it. You don’t necessarily have to be better than all your peers; you just have to be the best you that you can be. Even Kurt Cobain of Nirvana knew that.

For those of you who are interested in avoiding slices and bogeys, you may want to check out Stroke Savers. Ken Venturi authored that book, collecting a number of valuable golf tips from his popular “Stroke Saver” feature from CBS Sports’ golf telecasts. From more distance to getting around the greens, he’s got some advice to shave a few strokes off your game.

Now get out there and beat your personal best. Again and again.