2016 PGA Champion Jimmy Walker on teamwork, risk-taking and elevating your game to the next level—in business and on the golf course
In golf and in life, winners find a way to succeed. Professional golfer and Burns & Wilcox brand ambassador Jimmy Walker, winner of the 2016 PGA Championship, has been one of the tour’s most consistent performers. How does he go about getting the best out of himself? What are his keys to staying a step ahead in a highly competitive field? Read on as Walker explains what it takes to turn a champion’s mindset and winning habits into world-class results.
Insurance Market Source (IMS): What drives you to succeed?
Jimmy Walker (JW): My family—my wife, Erin, and my boys, McLain and Beckett. I was so happy that they were all there at the PGA Championship tournament this summer.
IMS: How important is a competitive spirit when you are in a high-pressure match?
JW: It’s very important. It’s what makes you want to practice until late at night or work out early in the morning. It drives me to compete against the best players in the world.
IMS: What does winning the PGA Championship mean to you?
JW: It’s amazing and an honor. Ever since a young age, I have dreamt about winning a major championship one day. Giving myself a chance to win and making the putt on the last hole to beat Jason (Day) by one stroke is what I have been working for my entire career.
IMS: What advice would you give to young golfers who look up to you and watch you play?
JW: Have fun with it. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Putting more pressure on yourself will not help you get better.
IMS: When you are on the course, how do you evaluate risk? What kind of player are you?
JW: Golf is very much risk versus reward. I tend to take risks off the tee, but then play safer on my second shots and around the greens because I can rely on my putting. It is more about being confident in which one you choose. Without confidence, you will not hit a good shot. On the PGA Tour, you definitely have to take some risks during the tournaments because of how good everyone else is. They will take the risks that you don’t and sometimes beat you because of it.
Without confidence, you will not hit a good shot…You definitely have to take some risks during the tournaments because of how good everyone else is. – Jimmy Walker, 2016 PGA Champion
IMS: On the course, how much do you depend on your caddy for advice and to manage risk or help you decide what chances you take?
JW: Andy (Sanders) and I are definitely a team out there. At the end of the day, it is my decision on what choice to make; however, having someone I trust in my ear really helps me make those tough decisions.
IMS: Over your career, what was the most challenging moment for you on the PGA Tour?
JW: Dealing with the pressure—either to keep your card, win a tournament or play for your country at the Ryder Cup. It’s amazing how pressure can dictate the outcome, but that is why practice means so much.
IMS: How important is it to have a great team of advisors and coaches?
JW: Having a team around you that believes in you and always has your back can make a huge difference. You want to be confident in everyone around you.
IMS: What is the most memorable moment from your 15-year career?
JW: That is a tough question. It’s a toss-up between winning for the first time on tour and playing in my first Ryder Cup.
IMS: What is the best piece of advice you have received during your career?
JW: Enjoy the challenge of getting better. It takes a lot of effort and time. You can’t be afraid to fail.
The Jimmy Walker File
James “Jimmy” Walker learned the game of golf from his father, who was a scratch golfer. He met his wife, Erin, at a tour event in 2004, where she was a tournament volunteer.
His professional résumé includes an impressive six PGA Tour victories in the past two years, among them the 2016 PGA Championship.
Favorite club: Putter
Lowest round: 59
Favorite golf course: Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades, CA
Go-to snack: Bananas or trail mix
Hobbies: Astrophotography (Jimmy’s photos have been selected as NASA’s astronomy photos of the day)
Vehicle of choice: Ford F150
Sport he’d play if it weren’t for golf: Baseball