Convergence Towards Your Best Year as a PGA Professional, Part IV: Justice

We are nearly three full years into a “post-pandemic” world. New areas of our experience are available to us, but at the same time there are some things we miss from that “pre-pandemic” world. Either way, we can go past today and we can’t go back in time, so let’s think more about “making the most” out of today based on convergence. Hopefully, we can find that pathway to your “best year (yet) as a PGA Professional,” by continually chasing the stoic principles that help us deliver consistently where it’s needed. For context, please refer back to these three articles for reference as we continue to build on the foundation of Convergence: Overview (Article 1), Convergence: Courage (Article 2) and Convergence: Moderation (Article 3).

Let’s remember that we have defined Convergence as: “the act of converging and especially moving toward union or uniformity and consistency.” Convergence in our three phases (mental, physical and spiritual) with alignment (vs separation), leads to being more “at peace” with ourselves. Like John Wooden’s “Pyramid of Excellence” when these three phases are stacked up well, they create a “more powerful, more effective whole, than what the three separate parts ever could.”

Hinge #3: The 3rd of the four “cardinal virtues” or characteristics of a Stoic. These four characteristics are what being a Stoic hinges on. They are:

  • Courage
  • Moderation (Temperance)
  • Justice
  • Wisdom

In our last article, we considered: Moderation. In this version, we will consider Justice.

In the post-pandemic world, it would seem the word “justice” has taken on significantly more in terms of meaning for many. You might think of justice to refer to a legal situation, or when someone “gets what they deserve” or things are balanced out (e.g. in terms of fairness or similar). Others may add “social” to the word to refer again to fairness, equality or similar in their perspective based on what they know or understand.

For Stoics, the “virtue of Justice” meant so much more, and yet it was actually more simple. For those like Marcus Aurelius, it’s been said that “justice is our duty to our fellow man, and to our society. It’s the morality behind how we act, specifically in relation to our community and the people within it.” (Amor Fati, In terms of context, it is important to understand this is a “self-imposed duty” or standard placed upon oneself, and it is not the same as a “compelled duty” where a law, ordinance or statute requires it. (Picture how a sincere apology feels, and is understood vs a compelled sorry that a parent requires of a four-year-old at daycare…the phrase “I’m sorry” is said in both cases, but one is genuine and the other is far from it.)

Ryan Holiday, lead writer for The Daily Stoic wrote that the other three Stoic cardos “pale in comparison to what the Stoics worshiped most highly: Doing the right thing.

There is no Stoic virtue more important than justice, because it influences all the others. Marcus Aurelius himself said that justice is “the source of all the other virtues.” Stoics throughout history have pushed and advocated for justice, oftentimes at great personal risk and with great courage, in order to do great things and defend the people and ideas that they loved…George Washington and Thomas Jefferson formed a new nation—one which would seek, however imperfectly, to fight for democracy and justice—largely inspired by the philosophy of Cato and those other Stoics…Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a translator of Epictetus, led a black regiment of troops in the US Civil War…Beatrice Webb, who helped to found the London School of Economics and who first conceptualized the idea of collective bargaining, regularly re-read Marcus Aurelius….Qualities of one’s character and/or virtues can be much like wine. It’s not about the wine, the character or the virtue, it’s about the intensity (or the degree to which it manifests itself in one’s life, relationships, etc.)”

Ryan Holiday

In the golf industry, we generally don’t have to operate at “great personal risk and with great courage, in order to do great things.” But, there are times that still need or require a courageous PGA Professional who will enforce the rules and do so with professionalism, or have that difficult conversation with a staffer or a customer. To do so, requires intentionality or action, as doing nothing (aka “sweeping it under the rug”) will make it “go away” but only temporarily.

Generally, to have these conversations requires us to go to our well of “emotional intelligence” that is built from experiences, mentors and similar. Every one of these conversations are an opportunity to grow in wisdom, which some would say is the “application of knowledge and experience” in such a way that it guides our thoughts, actions and our words when speaking with others.

Donald J. Robertson on wrote this: “Everything a Stoic does should contribute, in some small way, to benefiting humanity, or at least not do the opposite. We might describe this as “Stoic philanthropy” or brotherly love.” (Sounds like a PGA Professional to me.)

Robertson continues with an important area that I’ve written about before: The Locus of Control. The fact is, we can’t control others, even if/when they are subordinate to us. They are in direct control of their own thoughts, actions and words. In this context, the concept of seeking to help others is really “Fate permitting.”

Robertson writes that, “Cicero explained this through the famous metaphor of the archer. He can take aim at a target and fire his arrow skilfully but once it has flown from the bow, whether or not it hits the target is in the hands of fate. He takes aim to the best of his ability but accepts that the target could move, for instance, and accepts either success or failure with emotional equanimity.” In other words, we can be the best golf coach but at the end of the day, the student (lesson taker) is ultimately responsible for their improvement or not. We can be a great mentor to someone, but ultimately, it is up to them to learn “the easy lessons” we’ve tried to teach them or “learn the hard way.”

Finally, as managers, coaches and similar at golf facilities, living out the Stoic virtue of Justice can also look like that word so many of us use, fully understand, and yet have a hard time putting its meaning into words: professionalism. Like justice, when positioned alongside the caveat “Fate permitting,” professionalism requires us to use our judgment (based on experience, knowledge and wisdom) to not only do the right thing ourselves, but lead those we serve (customers, members, fellow teammates) with logic and reason to find or determine the most appropriate course of action. And, as we do so, we seek to maintain two central qualities in justice: kindness and fairness.


  • When giving a ruling, when enforcing a dress code or some other policy, we do so with kindness and/or gentleness. We seek to correct the behavior versus embarrass or humiliate the person in the wrong.
  • Correction with constructive commentary is very different than a desire to harm or humiliate.
  • We believe the best – until proven otherwise.
  • Robertson said it best, “We help others, even our “enemies”, by educating them and bringing them closer to wisdom…we must exercise judgment to rationally determine in each case the difference between having enough…and having too much.”


  • As with kindness, we want our customers/members to have as much fun as they can, but not at the expense of staff or other customers/members.
  • Sometimes, to get this fairness, we will be required to “defend the field” or “defend the membership” or similar.
  • Professionalism is born out of respect primarily and a lack of fairness and/or a lack of equitable enforcement of policies, rules and procedures is the fastest way to tear down the respect others have for us and/or operation.
  • In some ways, it would seem that being a PGA Professional and/or a CMAA professional gives us both a platform and a responsibility to “do the right thing” and work to create environments where all golfers, all staff and everyone in our “golf community” can thrive, get better, gain connections and similar. (It is a big responsibility, but a meaningful one to be sure.)

As with the previous topics on moderation and courage, I would love to hear any thoughts you have on how these concepts apply to your work and career. Please feel free to email or call me at my contact information below.

Monte Koch, PGA Certified Professional, CEIP
PGA Career Consultant | PGA of America Career Services
[email protected]

PGA of America
Business, Operations & Career Coach in the Pacific NW and Rocky Mountain PGA Sections
Lea Hill, WA

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