Have you heard about Ted Kemp? He recently beat odds of 67 million-to-one by hitting a hole-in-one twice in the same round. In fact, he did it on back-to-back par-3 holes, at the Muscatine, Iowa, municipal golf course.

Upon hearing this story, I considered pointing out that despite long odds, sometimes the unimaginable comes true -- so it's always worth trying. For example, attempting to accumulate a gargantuan nest egg for retirement by saving aggressively and investing effectively isn't a bad idea.

But that doesn't seem like the biggest lesson here. Let's face it -- those are long odds. That's like buying lottery tickets, hoping you'll win the jackpot. Sure, it might happen, and sure, it doesn't hurt to buy a ticket now and then for fun, but to put any more hope or money into it is folly.

Taking victory in stride
Instead, think about this lesson: Despite his remarkable achievement, Mr. Kemp still ended up with a score of 78. He's still a golfer with a respectable handicap of 12. But he's not yet PGA material, and his life isn't likely to be transformed by this event. It's merely icing on the cake of his golf pastime.

In investing, you might be aiming to score a seven-bagger with an investment in some exciting young company -- it might happen, and it might not. You might invest in a bunch of dynamic Rule-Breaking companies -- seeking the highest possible returns. But this won't necessarily be enough to put you on Easy Street -- at least not quickly.

Mr. Kemp has gained more respect and perhaps more confidence. He probably had considerable talent in order to hit two holes-in-one. If he keeps at it, he may well improve his game even more.

Meanwhile, you too might rack up some amazing achievements in investing. But they're likely to happen over the long haul -- that's how most multi-baggers materialize. Look at these performances, for example:



Time period

Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX)


14 years (mid-1992 to 2006)

Hansen Natural (Nasdaq: HANS)


12 years (late 1995 to 2007)

Nike (NYSE: NKE)


21 years (late 1987 to mid-2008)

Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN)


10 years (mid-1997 to late 2007)

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL)


22 years (mid-1985 to late 2007)

Of course, most high-flyers don't go up in a straight line, and some of the above have swooned lately, but early investors have still done well, and late investors might still do well. It's all about choosing companies carefully and hanging on as long as you keep your conviction.