Harvey Penick was the golf coach at the University of Texas from 1931 to 1963 and the golf mentor for some of the greats: Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Kathy Whitworth, Betsy Rawls, and Mickey Wright. They returned to Penick even after years on the pro golfers’ circuit to seek his help with their putting, chipping and driving.
Like any good coach, Penick was a careful observer who learned how to golf from watching others. In fact, for decades Penick scribbled his random observations about golf into a notebook. One day he mentioned these golf diaries to a writer named Bud Shrake. Shrake saw the publishing potential in Penick’s notebooks and collaborated with him on a book published in 1992 under the title Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf. The Little Red Book sold more than a million copies, becoming 75th on Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 Sports Books of All Time. Penick was eighty-seven years old.
Most older people haven’t written a Little Red Book, but like Penick observing golfers, they’ve observed life and learned important things the hard way. A wise person takes seriously the wisdom of older people.