So here I am lying two about 165 yards from the pin on my home turf at the Inverrary Country Club East course in Florida. This is the original site of the Jackie Gleason Classic, which evolved into the present PGA Tour Event Honda Classic. No, I am not on tour. Think I would be writing this if I was?

My playing partner, Ron, a good friend and a CPA/financial planner, is advising me. Why not? A four handicapper should always be counseling a pure hacker.

"Try a five wood," he says.

"Not a three iron?"

"No, a five wood. I see how you hit."

Such tact. It seems the perfect time to ask him about investments. "I guess I should be taking stock of my portfolio," I tell him.

Ron looks up at the bright blue sky and then down at me while I wrestle with removing the mitten from the club head.

"Listen," he says. "If you were some 30 years younger and saving for retirement, it would be better for you to allocate a larger part of your portfolio to stock funds which still have the greatest potential for long-term growth."

That's pretty much correct, although you wouldn’t know it recently. Stocks produced an average annual return of 12.94 percent during the 10-years from 1991 through 2001. Of course, if you had taken your money out of the stock market and missed just the best 10 days during that period, your average return would have dropped to 8.18 percent.

"However," as Ron continued, "if you're in your peak earnings years (namely 40s and 50s), then you want to reduce the stock allocation and increase your holdings of lower-risk assets, such as bond and money market funds."

By now, I had the club in hand and was approaching the ball. It seemed like a straight shot up the fairway although I did see a little beachhead to the right, to the left, and just before the green. Ron chattered on.

"Of course, if you're near retirement, you may want to be a little more conservative although I still recommend some stocks just as a hedge against inflation."

I addressed the ball, took a practice swing, and then settled in for the kill.

"Beware of any herd mentality," Ron shouted in my ear, forgetting the rules of course etiquette. "Investing aggressively in funds with the most impressive recent performance might just distract you from a carefully crafted strategy for the long haul. Besides, you could also end up buying shares at inflated price levels." Just what I did last week.

I saw Ron's face on the ball and brought the club back slowly, counting one-two-three on the back swing. I kept looking at his owlish face on the Titleist and then counted one-two-three on the down swing. Thwack! Off it went. Ron sailed out and caught the tip of the green and stayed there. A slight breeze would easily drop it into the trap. It didn't move.

I turned to my partner. He was grinning.

"See, I told you. Just listen to me."

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