A Life Lesson From a Masters Champion

I love the game of golf. That doesn’t mean I’m that good at playing, but I love it nonetheless. I love golf so much, I watch it too, and last weekend was my favorite tournament of the year…the Masters…the first of the the four major tournaments on the PGA.


Every year this tournament has it’s own unique drama and storylines and this year was no exception. Two dominated the weekend, especially Sunday.  The first was watching last year’s champion, Jordan Spieth try to defend his title. And until the back 9 on Sunday, most thought he would.

The second story emerged as the final round unfolded. Danny Willett a relatively unknown golfer in North America (though ranked #12 in the world) went from obscurity to world-wide fame in a matter of hours as he overtook Spieth on the back nine to claim the victory. Along with the 1.8 million first prize winnings.

Aside from the great golf and drama of the day, we can take away something else that may be of greater importance. We can learn a valuable life lesson from Danny Willett and it’s this…

“Living out our values brings meaning to life’s greatest experiences.

Newborn son to Masters champion: Danny Willett on 12 days that changed his life

Danny Willett hailed a “ridiculously awesome” 12 days in his life after claiming his first major title with a dramatic victory in the 80th Masters.

Willett’s wife Nicole had been due to give birth to the couple’s first child on Sunday, but Zachariah James Willett arrived on March 29 to allow his father to play in the year’s first major.

The uncertainty meant the 28-year-old was the 89th and last player to register after only arriving at Augusta National on Monday, but took advantage of a dramatic collapse from defending champion Jordan Spieth who then had to present Willett with the famous green jacket.

“It’s just crazy, just surreal,” Willett said after a flawless closing 67 gave him a three shot victory over Spieth and playing partner Lee Westwood. 

“Words can’t really describe the feelings and emotions. I’ve won a couple of golf tournaments around the world, but this is just a different league. It’s a major. It’s the Masters. I’m not quite sure which is better, this day or [the birth of my son] last Tuesday. I always said that I wouldn’t come here if he wasn’t born by now, which stuck. Fortunately enough, he listened to my prayers and he came early.”

“It’s just been the most ridiculously awesome 12 days I guess. Words can’t describe what I’m feeling right now, but words definitely can’t describe how I was feeling last Tuesday when you get to hold something that me and my wife have made. It’s just been incredibly surreal.”

I think Mr. Willett won over a lot of new fans last weekend; not only because of his great play, but because of the personal choices he made.

Did you catch that part of his story? His son was due to be born on April 10, the final day of the Masters tournament. He had decided that if he wasn’t born before the tournament began, he would not enter. As it was, he was the last entry into the Masters because he waited until the last moment before doing so.

If his son had been born prior to the Masters, he would not have played. That meant…

  • He would not have had the experience of playing in one of, if not the premiere golf tournament in the world
  • He would not have won his first major championship
  • He would not have taken home the 1.8 million dollar prize money
  • He would not now be a member of the PGA
  • We would still not know who Danny Willett was; he would still be an unknown golfer from England.

It’s a great story now, but would you be willing to give up the potential of all of that? On the unknown birth date of your first born?

Imagine if Danny Willett came to the USA, played the tournament and won. And imagine if his son was born on his due date…the day he won the Masters, instead of two weeks earlier.

Do you think he would feel the same about the victory? I don’t think so. And I don’t think most of us would think as highly of him as we do now if things played out that way. Why?

Here’s my point. His victory at the Masters meant a great deal to him because he lived by his values.

“Living out our values brings meaning to life’s greatest experiences.”

The opposite is true as well. When we make decisions that violate our values, even the good things in our lives, lose their meaning.

I love the Masters golf tournament. But this year I appreciated it as much for what we saw and were reminded of, off the course as what we saw on it.  Thank you Mr. Willett for living by your values…for honouring your wife and new born child and showing the world what it means to live them out in the right priority.

Some of my own takeaways…

  • Family first. This is actually second on our stated 5 family values in our home.
  • Danny Willett would be just as blessed if he hadn’t played the Masters.
  • Living out our values brings meaning to our life experiences.
  • Living for money and meaning is impossible. Money – meaning = poverty.
  • Choosing to live by our values gives us clarity when making decisions.
  • You can’t replace relationships with money

What do you think?

Are you clear on the values that guide you? I wrote more about this here. Do you consistently live them out? Or do you violate them when put to the test?

Try this:

Out of the following list of (90+) values, circle your top 10-12. Then consider how closely your life lines up with them.

Accomplishment, Affirmation               Determination       Genuineness        Marriage            Respect for life          Success

Diligence                 Good taste            Mentoring          Respect for people   Temperance

Ambition                              Efficiency                Growth                 Nurturing            Risk taking                Tolerance

Authenticity                        Elegance                  Hard work           Obedience            Security                     Tranquility

Beauty                                  Encouragement     Honesty                Orderliness         Self-esteem                Trust

Enlightenment       Humility               Patience               Self-expression         Truth

Career                                  Excellence               Humour                Peace                    Sensitivity                  Winning

Caution                               Excitement              Impact others      Perfection            Servanthood              Worship

Collaboration                    Experiencing           Independence      Performance       Service

Communicating                                                   Influence              Persistence           Sexual fulfillment

Community                       Faithfulness             Inspiring others  Personal power    Silence

Compassion                      Family                       Integrity                Physical vitality   Sincerity

Competence                      Forgiveness              Joy                         Productivity          Solitude

Competition                     Forward thinking    Love                        Purity                    Spiritual growth

Consistency                      Freedom                    Love of Learning Quality                  Stability

Frugality                     Loyalty                   Recognition

Creativity                          Fun                              Making money     Relaxation                       

“Life balance, satisfaction and meaning begin with figuring out what you value most in life and then ordering your life around it.” Chris McCluskey

Are you unsure how to align your values with the life you’re living? Looking to make some changes? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange an initial free 30 minute Discovery Call. Let’s talk.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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