Saturday, January 28, 2012

An Homage to the Young Pros I Know

Golf is a game to be played.  I know I have blogged about this in the past, but I have had the opportunity to listen and learn from talented, young players.  They talk about losing and finding the joy of the game. They speak of the journey through the levels of success as sometimes torturous and pressure filled.  These are players who have had great success in the process of moving from junior golf to professional golf, yet they rarely see that as an accolade.  These players are working hard to reach their goals, which are lofty.  They work tirelessly until their goals are reached and they are certain they will get there. My role as a coach is to help them find joy in the process, see small successes along the way as important indicators and remind them of their gifts as players and as people.  My other role as a coach is to help them deal with obstacles they encounter, whether real or perceived.

Coaching isn't all about technique, mechanics and course management.  A lot of what we do or should do on a daily basis is help our players with their perspective of who they are, what they do and why they do it.  We need to support our player's emotional intelligence, both in and out of golf.  What is emotional intelligence?    If every serious player could sit down and answer the following questions it would be very helpful to their understanding of their relationship to the game of golf.  Here are the questions:
  1. What are the three most important things you can tell me about who you are?  (Do you bring them with you to the golf course?)
  2. What do you love to do?  If golf was one of the answers, make sure you include two others.
  3. Why do you play golf?  Give me three reasons?  Remember when things get tough.
  4. Who do you influence on a daily basis?  Who influences you on a daily basis?
  5. Why do you consider your closest friends special?  What is it about you that they appreciate?
  6. What would you consider to be the most important core value to you?  (Your core values say a lot about who you are and guide you in your decision making on and off the course).
  7. How important are other people's opinion of you?  Who's opinion matters most?  Who's opinion can you control?
  8. When you picture yourself in five years, what will life be like?
  9. What do you consider the definition of success to be?  Have you felt it?
  10. Is golf the most important thing in life?  If not, where does it rank?  Be honest!
Everyone I coach is unique.  No two people are motivated by the same things, have the same approach to the game, to their practice or to competition.  There is no right or wrong way to reach success or even define success.  However, the one common factor that seems to be needed to play the game at the highest level is a passion for the game.  Passion is a strong emotional tie to the game.  Even that passion is unique to each player.  Some players believe the key is preparation while some play with as much freedom as possible.  As a coach, I need to be able to help each person know what makes her tick and find ways to tap into that strategy or emotion when questions arise.

Players get lost.  By that I mean, no matter what the talent level or the dedication, things can get in the way of greatness.  For some, it is injuries, while for others it is personal problems.  There are a million reasons to get off track and something as simple as a swing change can do it.  If a golfer knows who she is and what is important to her, she can more easily right the ship and continue to make progress toward her goals.  However, if she doesn't understand why she is playing the game or why success is important to her or even what she would call success, she will have a tough time finding the will to continue to put forth the effort and attitude needed to beat top level players.

When you get to the course early, you will catch a lot of beautiful sunrises!


The path to success in golf must be among the toughest in all of sports.  The "tour" is a tough club to join.  The travel is endless.  There is no guaranteed salary.  There are no teammates to hold you up when you get down.  You are measured daily against par and your fellow competitors.  With all of the challenges you must face to reach the highest competition in golf, it is important to figure out how to enjoy the journey.  To face results as the only factor of success will make the beautiful sunrises meaningless.  To see your playing partners as only competitors will diminish the camaraderie you will feel with your fellow pros.  To see practice as a means to an end will take away the satisfaction of a hard day's work.  The true joy of golf lies in being totally absorbed in what you do at any given moment, no matter what your level of play.

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