LUV and Golf

Herb Kelleher passed away recently …a couple days after New Year’s Day.

Kelleher (Herb to all who knew and met him) was the beloved co-founder and former CEO of Southwest Airlines.

If you have ever flown on a Southwest flight, you have experienced an organizational culture shaped by Herb’s philosophies and leadership.

He was known as a driven, charismatic and high-energy leader, and one who – more than anything else  – cultivated an organization in which love and respect (for each other AND for the customer) were foundational to how it operated.

For Southwest employees, love is in their DNA. They are based at Love Field in Dallas, TX. Their stock ticker symbol is LUV. And they relish saying things like: “LUV is in the air” in their marketing and corporate messaging.

And from my perspective, most of the time it seems that they truly walk the talk. (I only say “most of the time” because 99% of the time isn’t “Always.”)

So what does this have to do with golf?

The same formula that Southwest uses for high-performance and success is available to you.

When you travel on Southwest, one thing you may notice is that the employees seem to have a lot of fun. They are joyful, creative, playful…and it translates for most travelers into a great flight experience.

Kelleher’s paradigm of LOVE is what drives the culture of playfulness and fun – and which has created one of the best-performing airlines in the industry.

If you want to perform at your best on the golf course, you’d do well to consider that cultivating LOVE on the course can be an AMAZINGLY successful strategy.

What does that look like?

  • How about being intentional about sending warm and loving intentions (aloud, or not) toward the people in your playing group? And yes, even toward your competitors.
  • How about treating yourself a little better?
  • How about an inner dialogue that is supportive and loving toward yourself and others…and not the opposite?

I’ve written about this and spoken about this in depth many times at our schools. The science and research is clear: Operating from a perspective of LOVE  cultivates the kind of confidence, focus and inner calm that produces our best golf.

More important, it can also short-circuit your brain’s built-in threat response that causes missed 4-footers on the 18thhole…as well as other choking moments.

So, as you continue to either play some rounds in the warmth and sunshine of the South or Southwest, or prepare to play when the sun comes back out in the North – remember that you have a very powerful mindset option from which to operate on the course.

LUV may be in the air. But you can make sure that LOVE – and great play – is also on the course!

With Love,



(If you fly Southwest regularly, be sure to keep an eye out for Single Plane Swing golfer and GGA Community member Captain Fuller McNutt. He usually sits in the front left seat!)


Paul Monahan, PCC is a Peak-Performance coach, member of the International Coach Federation and a certified COR.E Performance Dynamicsä  Specialist. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife Paula and is the proud dad to three young men.

Paul Monahan

Paul Monahan

Paul Monahan is an International Coach Federation (ICF) - credentialed coach working in the arena of human potential. Paul’s clients are leaders, executives, athletes and musicians who are serious about transforming how they perform in critical moments. His experiences in leadership and development over a highly-successful 25-year corporate career have created powerful context and understanding for the leaders and executives he coaches. Additionally, his passions and experiences in sports and music have uniquely positioned Paul to profoundly impact his clients in those areas as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *