1. Amount of Useless How-To Books on the Subject:
Anytime I see a large amount of how-to books on any subject it means two things to me: Being successful at the topic isn't easy and most people aren't any good but will still do it anyway.
Do a search for books about investing or trading stocks on Amazon.com (AMZN) and you'll be overwhelmed by the choices. There are investing books for dummies, complete idiots, morons, and people who will without a doubt lose money no matter what they do. There are books for beginners, teenagers, the elderly, and probably ones for small pets and farm animals. But are those authors pros at investing? In other words, do they make the majority of their living investing or trading stocks? When I read the author bio's it's clear to me that these authors are professionals - Professional Authors.
The market for investment books is there. People lose money in the stock market and then start looking for anything with a catch phrase or any book with the implication that once read they will be endowed with investing knowledge that is only disclosed in that one book. If someone had a juicy investment or trading secret why would they tell anyone? If everyone was doing it, it wouldn't work.
Do the same search for golf and you'll find an abundance of material. You'll find everything from fixing your swing to how to master the "mental" game of golf. Sound familiar? It should because there are plenty of books about the "mental" side of investing as well.
Sure, it might help to seek advice on how to play from a professional but most of those books aren't written by the pros. Two books that were on the first page of the search results on Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) were written by Psychologists. Either golf is so hard that it is driving people mental or most of the members on the PGA tour are actual PhD's.
I won't say that every book is useless as there are some good investing and golf books out there. A couple of my favorites on the investing side are: The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, One Up on Wall Street by Peter Lynch, and A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton G. Malkiel. A couple of good golf books that I recommend are: Five Lessons by Ben Hogan and How I Play Golf by Tiger Woods.
2. Everyone Talks About Their Best Shots Months or Years After They Occur
People that I know, usually people at work, all have a golf story where they shot under par here, or at par there, or just over par on this course. They will also have a list of amazing shots that they've hit in their lifetime. It's curious that these things always happen when you're not around. Plus, it isn't until you're playing with them on a course when it comes out, "On this hole about a year ago, I drove it about 275 from the tee and hit an incredible 2nd shot that just rolled into the hole". However, this time around it takes him 5 shots to the green and a sweet four put to hole out.
And it's always those same people who will tell you how much they've made on a stock after it's already doubled but will never tell you what they are going to buy today. I remember telling a particular co-worker about 3D Printing Systems (DDD) back in March 2013. He asked what I was buying and I told him that I liked DDD for the following reasons: The company was expected to release new products in the coming months, their sales and revenue numbers had increased throughout the recent years, they had positive cash flow from operations, and didn't have much debt. He said it was too risky due to the usual metrics that are pointed out, such as the P/E ratio being too high, and would probably buy something else. Throughout the months he asked me on and off how DDD was doing. By the time DDD had more than doubled in November 2013 I heard him spouting off to a co-worker about how great DDD had done this last year and he had bought some, "a long time ago".
This is the same type of person who, when Google (GOOG) was $500 back in June 2011, would tell you that GOOG is overvalued but when once it reached $1000 they've been shareholders from the start. I'm sure you all know someone like that and if you don't then you might just be that person...how can you live with yourself?
3. Tools and Training Aids are Everywhere
There are countless ways to throw your money away on golf training aids. There are swing tempo trainers, wrist guards that will "cure your slice", knee braces that "lock you down", swing jackets, some weird net things that you stand in, aligning rods, and even a bag. Yes, for $25 on Amazon you can buy a bean bag looking cushion that you swing your club into; it's an impact training tool and I'm not joking. That bag has a 4 out of 5 star rating on Amazon. I usually know if I took a good swing by looking at where the ball went but that's just me.
Do a web search for investing/trading aids and you'll have no problem finding companies willing to sell you any type of trading software; some will only cost you about $5,000 to get started. There are trade stations, academies, signals, ect. Most of the companies that sell the systems will let you sit in a webinar of "real-time" trading to see the software in action. If the software is so great, why is this guy working there? Shouldn't he just use the software to make millions instead of trying to get the people in the webinar "Pumped Up"?
Now most brokers have all types of trading tools and software available for free to their clients, and why wouldn't they want to inspire you to trade? After all, the brokers make much of their dough on commissions. The last 10-k for TD Ameritrade (AMTD) listed revenue from commissions to be 42% for the year of 20131. It makes sense for them to spend some money to give you "Advanced" charting tools so that when you run a screen for charts with a Double-Bottom, Untied Shoe, or even Loch Ness then you'll know what to do: Give them about $10 per trade.
1TD Ameritrade 2013 10k Accessed on 1/8/14 from:
Disclosure: I am long DDD, . I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.