Rickie Fowler’s breakthrough win at the Rocket Mortgage Classic taught us a great lesson. Sometimes there’s more to life than golf, even for the guys who play for a living.
It had been a long four years since Fowler last won on Tour. In that time his world ranking, and his confidence one presumes, plummeted. The once-rising star was sliding into irrelevance on the PGA Tour.
Despite his lackluster play in that period, he remained one of the most popular players among his competitors and fans. We just couldn’t give up on Rickie. His easygoing, California-kid demeanor and sartorial flair made him an easy guy to root for.
Thankfully, Rickie didn’t give up on himself, either.
The bottom hit when Sir Nick Faldo sent this tweet out after failing to qualify for the 2021 Masters.
To that point, Rickie Fowler hadn’t missed a Major since 2010.
It was a stunning fall from the top of the game as just two years earlier he’d won The Player’s Championship and seemed poised for a Major title run.
Sir Nick dutifully apologized and Rickie took it all in stride – no public lashing out, no pouting. Instead, from the results we have seen this season, Rickie Fowler dug deep and pulled himself out of a slump that would have crushed most mortals.
Butch Harmon deserves much credit for helping Rickie tweak his swing and find confidence again. But the secret to Rickie Fowler’s success was more profound than adjusting the takeaway or turning through impact.
In the last couple of years, Rickie realized life was more important than golf. In doing so, he freed himself from the yoke of expectations, sponsor pressures, disappointed fans, and whatever personal golf demons had come to roost in his mind.
Upon winning the Rocket Mortgage, Rickie had this to say, “At the end of the day, getting to hold her, hang with Maya and my wife, yeah, winning’s great, but there’s a lot more to life than that.”
It would take a lifetime of self-reflection for most professional athletes to be thinking that in their moment of triumph.
And it told us volumes about Rickie Fowler the husband, father, and golfer.
This season has already been a resounding success for Fowler. He still has The Open and the Ryder Cup ahead as opportunities to make it his best.
Through four years of struggles on the course, Rickie Fowler discovered that contentment in life isn’t found on a scoreboard. In doing so, he found the grace, patience, and will to play the game he loves with true love in his heart.
It’s a beautiful thing to watch. And it’s the best lesson any golfer can learn.
Whether you are trying to break a four-year slump on the PGA Tour or just hoping to break 90 this weekend with your buddies, perspective and playing with joy are powerful tools to carry with you.
That’s a lesson we can all carry in our bags.