Interview: Life Lessons from “Inside, Outside, and On The Ropes” with Author & Professional Golfer Keith Gockenbach

Have you ever wondered what life would be like as a professional golfer or are you pursuing a dream of starting a business or just a dream in general? We all know how tough that is and staying focused on the goal is a full-time job in itself. Author and professional golfer, Keith Gockenbach joined me recently to discuss his new book "Inside, Outside, and On The Ropes", which he wrote about his journey pursuing his goal of playing on the highly coveted Champions Tour- the PGA Tour (Professional Golf Association) for those 50 and up, and to discuss how we can all apply the life lessons he shares throughout the book. 


  Keith Gockenbach InsideTheRopesGolf.comProfessional Golfer and Author Keith Gockenbach. Image courtesy of


Candace Rose: Can you tell us about your book "Inside, Outside, and On The Ropes"?

Keith Gockenbach: "Yes, it's really a book about myself and my five year journey I had trying to earn membership on the Champions tour, which is golfs tour for players over 50 years old. So it starts with kind of my journey to making the decision to actually try, and then goes all the way through my sixth attempt to Q school- the qualifying school that earns you membership into the Champions tour. It's got stories along the way, and then kind of my story as far as my moments of success and then my moments of failure as well."


Candace Rose: What inspired you to write about your journey?

Keith Gockenbach: "You know it got to the point where I tried a little over five years and it was time to really stop and get back to doing something else. But there's something about golf that's pretty addicting, so I felt like I ought to write this stuff down and maybe get it out of my system and it ended up being a book."


Candace Rose: How would you say golf has shaped your life?

Keith Gockenbach: "Well, I think golf teaches you a lot of values from a very young age. I started when I was 11 and I think one of the best things for me was that I got to play with a lot of adults when I was a teenager and had interactions with adults that I wouldn't have had otherwise. I mean my parents were great, but I think it's nice that when you're a teenager to see how other people approach problems, approach life. I played in a regular group on a Thursday at our home course with a banker, a local businessman and a local oilfield driller. We had our own group and I learned a lot of values from folks and I think that's one thing golf does teach you is things like honesty and integrity and how to deal with bad breaks, as well as good breaks."


Candace Rose: Was playing golf professionally something you always aspired to do?

Keith Gockenbach: "I did want to but I think I actually got better as I got a little older. I think I probably played my best golf actually as a senior when I had a little bit more time to play. I went to school as an engineer which took a lot of time away from the golf course in the afternoons, so I think it'd always been in the back of my mind but I really wasn't good enough in high school to turn pro and really try at the time."


Candace Rose: Golf is such a mental game; I love what you said in the book about how "making a putt for par on the first hole can jumpstart a good round and it creates more confidence than an opening birdie because you've made a mistake and come out of it okay". What advice do you have for those who've made early mistakes in their businesses to not lose confidence and not lose sight of their goal?

Keith Gockenbach: "Well, I think just having that goal in front of you and realizing that it's not a one time goal that you're working your way toward. In most cases you're trying to build a career and that's going to have ups and downs. You can look at any successful person and they'll tell you they were successful because they kept trying and because maybe they failed so many times. I still remember Edison's quote about the light bulb- he said people asked him 'how'd you learn how to make a light bulb'? And he said ''Well, I learned 1,000 ways not to make a light bulb before I figured out the one way to make one'. I think it is about perseverance and it's about having a passion about what you do and then having the patience to wait for those things all to come together."


Book cover, Inside, Outside, and On The Ropes Keith Gockenbach, Fred Funk"Inside, Outside, and On The Ropes: Life Lessons from Q-School & The Majors", By Keith Gockenbach. Foreword by Fred Funk. Image courtesy of


Candace Rose: Do you have any advice for those who might just be getting started? You mentioned (in the book) the importance of "being aggressive" and "you have to show up". How do you get that fire and that drive to do so?

Keith Gockenbach: "Well, I think you have to look at what it is your ultimate goal is. For me it was getting on the tour and I loved the times I got to play in actual tour events. I played in two majors. Those were the times I loved, but those times were few and far between until you actually do make it. So one thing you have to do is look at a career and say 'well, what are all the things you have to do to get there'? I'm certainly not a dancer or a ballerina, but I think the people who want to be a ballerina or a dancer, they want to get on stage in front of people, but there's a whole lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that's not that much fun. There's a lot of physical exercise and working with people that you may not really care for until you really get out on stage. So I think my biggest piece of advice is if you don't like the process of getting there, then you probably shouldn't start. There's a lot of things involved in the process of becoming whatever you want to become that you better like those things as much or more than what you're trying to aspire to do."


Candace Rose: You offer 22 lessons in the book with one in particular being "chasing a dream is a job and not a hobby". What can we do to ensure that what we're aspiring to do is not a hobby and we're making it a job?

Keith Gockenbach: "Well, I think you can just look at the measure of time you're spending on it. Are you really spending 8 to 10 hours a day, 5 or 6 days a week? Because that's what you spend on a job. When I loved playing golf as an amateur, I'd go out and play golf maybe five or six times a week, but five or six times, times five hour rounds that's 25 or 30 hours. That's not a full-time job, and so it's all the practice and all the mental exercises and all the planning that goes into it that makes it turn into a full-time job. And it's those extra things that make the difference between really being an amateur and being a professional."


Candace Rose: Are you still pursuing golf professionally?

Keith Gockenbach: "I'm still a professional and I'll play in a few events but I'm not doing it full-time now. I think your question about 'why write the book'? It was kind of to put an end to that phase of my life if you will. To say I've tried that, here's what it was like and here's what I learned from it, but it's time to move on to something else."


For more information on author and professional golfer Keith Gockenbach or to purchase "Inside, Outside, and On The Ropes" please visit: Inside The Ropes Golf

Follow Keith Gockenbach on Twitter:

Like Inside The Ropes Golf on Facebook:



  1. April 24, 2012 / 8:35 pm

    you always ask teh best questions – going to read this book for sure!

  2. April 24, 2012 / 10:27 pm

    Thanks Cindy! It’s a great book, I know you’ll love it!

Leave a Reply

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