Bulls, Birdies, Bogeys & Bears: Book Review

Bulls, Birdies, Bogeys & Bears: Book Review

Book Review: Bulls, Birdies, Bogeys & Bears by David Merkel, CFA of AlephBlog

This is a clever book with a simple insight.  When good times are expected to continue, golf does well, as a competitive professional sport, as a recreation (it’s expensive), and the markets do well as well.  Vice-versa when bad times are expected to continue.

There is a second insight, in how business gets done on the golf course, as relatively well-off people connect in person over something they enjoy.

The book describes these connections in many ways through history, over different nations, etc.  It spends time on two of the greats of the game, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods, comparing them and the economic environments they lived in.

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This book surprised me… I liked it better than I expected.  That said:


A lot of the correlations he describes could very well be spurious.  When I look at the graphs, I am on the borderline between being convinced and not.  I give him the benefit of the doubt.


This is a well-written and entertaining book, and maybe it would make a good gift for a friend that likes golfing and investing.  Anyway, if you want to, you can buy it here: Bulls, Birdies, Bogeys & Bears: The remarkable & revealing relationship between golf & investment markets.

Full disclosure: The author asked me if I would like a copy and I said yes.

If you enter Amazon through my site, and you buy anything, I get a small commission.  This is my main source of blog revenue.  I prefer this to a “tip jar” because I want you to get something you want, rather than merely giving me a tip.  Book reviews take time, particularly with the reading, which most book reviewers don’t do in full, and I typically do. (When I don’t, I mention that I scanned the book.  Also, I never use the data that the PR flacks send out.)

Most people buying at Amazon do not enter via a referring website.  Thus Amazon builds an extra 1-3% into the prices to all buyers to compensate for the commissions given to the minority that come through referring sites.  Whether you buy at Amazon directly or enter via my site, your prices don’t change.

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David J. Merkel, CFA, FSA — 2010-present, I am working on setting up my own equity asset management shop, tentatively called Aleph Investments. It is possible that I might do a joint venture with someone else if we can do more together than separately. From 2008-2010, I was the Chief Economist and Director of Research of Finacorp Securities. I did a many things for Finacorp, mainly research and analysis on a wide variety of fixed income and equity securities, and trading strategies. Until 2007, I was a senior investment analyst at Hovde Capital, responsible for analysis and valuation of investment opportunities for the FIP funds, particularly of companies in the insurance industry. I also managed the internal profit sharing and charitable endowment monies of the firm. From 2003-2007, I was a leading commentator at the investment website RealMoney.com. Back in 2003, after several years of correspondence, James Cramer invited me to write for the site, and I wrote for RealMoney on equity and bond portfolio management, macroeconomics, derivatives, quantitative strategies, insurance issues, corporate governance, etc. My specialty is looking at the interlinkages in the markets in order to understand individual markets better. I no longer contribute to RealMoney; I scaled it back because my work duties have gotten larger, and I began this blog to develop a distinct voice with a wider distribution. After three-plus year of operation, I believe I have achieved that. Prior to joining Hovde in 2003, I managed corporate bonds for Dwight Asset Management. In 1998, I joined the Mount Washington Investment Group as the Mortgage Bond and Asset Liability manager after working with Provident Mutual, AIG and Pacific Standard Life. My background as a life actuary has given me a different perspective on investing. How do you earn money without taking undue risk? How do you convey ideas about investing while showing a proper level of uncertainty on the likelihood of success? How do the various markets fit together, telling us us a broader story than any single piece? These are the themes that I will deal with in this blog. I hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University. In my spare time, I take care of our eight children with my wonderful wife Ruth.

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