By Tony Clark

GolfWRX Contributor

Tony Clark is a former professional golfer and CEO of Clark Management Group, owners of the PlaneSWING Golf Training System. Tony divides his time between his businesses in England and Windermere, Fla.

I’ve met Ian Poulter, albeit briefly, as a result of being a member at Woburn where he is the playing professional and ambassador.

The aura of confidence and single-mindedness he displays means Ian might not appeal to everyone but I like him.

That opinion is shaped by my limited knowledge of his background, the work I know he does for junior golf and charities and conversations I’ve had with people that know him far better than me.

By contrast, I’ve also endured BS about Ian from people who display nothing but envy. You know who you are!

Poulter is 36-years-old. He turned professional 20 years ago when his handicap was four and he was a good club golfer but, arguably, nothing special.

But Poulter had a dream: to make a success of his life and prove his teachers wrong.

“All my life I’ve been told I’d never amount to anything,” he said. “That was always the message from my teachers at school. I wanted to be a footballer but that didn’t work out either. But, yeah, I just love proving people wrong. It gives me the motivation to succeed.”

Teachers take note — you make or break our leaders of tomorrow.

With no amateur career to speak of Poulter pursued his dream of being a successful tour pro.  He was an assistant professional at Chesfield Downs, a modest club where, it seems, he received little encouragement.

I’m sure Poulter’s self-belief wasn’t unshakable — we all have bad days. But it was undoubtedly stronger than most – as he has proved so spectacularly.

Now, when kids and adults alike look at Poulter, what do they see?

That’s for them to answer. What I see is a self-made man in the truest sense of the word.

Not only has Poulter worked his butt off to get his game to a level where he competes with the best in one of the most competitive sports in the world, he’s done so with a metaphorical foot on his head trying to keep him down.

His persona is not an accident in my view. He’s made some excellent strategic marketing decisions that ensure he remains at the forefront of golfing news.

People ridiculed the remark he made about his ability (there’s that collective metaphorical foot again) when he told Golf World (UK) in March 2008:

“Don’t get me wrong, I really respect every professional golfer, but I know I haven’t played to my full potential and when that happens, it will be just me and Tiger.”

Was it hype or did he mean it? I hope it was both!

So after 12 years we’ve seen Poulter the golfer, marketer and, through his junior golf and charitable works, the philanthropist.

Always a snappy and trendy dresser, Poulter created IJP Design several years ago and launched a clothing range every bit as controversial, and to a great extent retro, as he is. Enter Poulter the entrepreneur.

All of which makes him appear a magical blend of Doug Sanders, Richard Branson, Donald Trump and Paul Getty.

Add to this the fact that Poulter actually has a wonderful family, spending as much time as he can with his wife and their FOUR children. Enter Ian Poulter the family man.

Undoubtedly, Poulter has a great team around him. No one person could manage everything that goes on his life. So we can now add ‘time management’ and ‘delegation’ to his skill set. Stand up Ian Poulter the CEO!

Furthermore, while Poulter was one of Europe’s 12 sporting heroes in the Ryder Cup at Medinah, he was acknowledged by his teammates as the Leader — someone who thrives on pressure; the aggressive home supporters unwittingly his driving force. Someone should have warned them not to put a metaphorical foot on his head!

So when you think you can’t, think of Ian Poulter.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum. 

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Golfer for 40 years. A former golf pro, I just love the game and what it means to so many people. Enjoyed working with some incredible people in a range of industries. Passionate about helping others toward rapid and sustained improvement. Married to Dianne for more than 30 years with two wonderful (I mean it) grown kids. I've been lucky in life and appreciate every bit of it. The bad times have been expensive, hurtful and thankfully short and I'm blessed with more amazing friends than anyone deserves! Keen supporter of Golf Supports Our Troops and SMGA, both helping injured US service men and women rehabilitate and discover our great game. Committed Everton (est 1878) Fan. The UK's most genuine Premier League Football (soccer!!) Club. Live in Windermere, Fla., and UK.


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  1. Great article about a great guy.
    Thanks to Tony Clark for pointing out not just Golf successes, but retro style!, family and Philanthropy. And the power of Delegation and Self Belief ! Michael G, so many of those whining 8 year olds sell the goods on Ebay a day later…………

  2. if you judged every golfer (or elite athlete from ANY sport for that Matter) on whether they have not signed an autograph for someone before, Im afraid you would be sadly dissapointed, and find that signing a “black hat” does not define a person or make them a fraud.

  3. Gutsy performance, but this guy is a turd. I watched him literally walk past an 8 year old autograph TWICE at the Barclays a few years back because the hat he was being asked to sign was black. The kid didn’t care, and was crestfallen when this idiot walked past him a second time. A complete fraud…

  4. Congratulations on a truly great article. Ian deserves to be celebrated. He does it time and time again mostly when the pressure is at it’s most intense. I remember in Wales Monty was criticized for picking him and he went on to be the highest points winner that year too. In fact one of the most memorable momenst of the 2010 Ryder Cup was when the crowd sang there’s only two Molinaris and the reason they sang that was because 5 minutes earlier the crowd was acknowledging that there is only one Ian Poulter. I will indeed think of Ian if I ever doubt that I can achieve anything.