When the word “coach” comes up, it isn’t immediately assumed that you are speaking about something golf related. You instead think of the greats of team sports like Vince Lombardi, Herb Brooks, Joe Gibbs, or Scotty Bowman. But in golf, the real truth is that coaching is as important now as it has ever been, and players need to embrace the relationship with a coach if they want to achieve their goals. So that leads to the obvious question: what does a coach in golf do exactly?
First, I’m looking for a commitment to getting better from my player. Commitment to practicing the right way and staying patient with the process of improvement is critical. Examine how you do things in your life and you will find a pattern of “step-by-step” improvement to get where you are in your job, learning a language, getting results in the gym, or even in parenting. Yet when my students put a golf club in their hand, that level of patience and commitment to the PROCESS begins to evaporate. So be ready to be committed to what we are doing as a team if you want to get better and be ready to stick to the plan.
Once I have that commitment from my player then it is my job to really dig in and find out what their dreams are as it relates to golf. Certainly we have to temper them, as a 25-handicap player saying “I want to play on the PGA Tour” is looking perhaps a bit too far down the line. But I do want them to think big in the context of their own games and lives. Do you shoot 100 right now and want to break 90? That is a very achievable goal with some good coaching and commitment by the player. We can make that happen! Then, once we reach our goal, we can sit down and determine our next step. Above all else, don’t get scared by the whole prospect of commitment; we are going to have a lot of fun during this process. Learning to enjoy it, laughing a lot, and just plain enjoying the game will make this a fun journey for us both. In the end, the final destination will be well worth the time spent.
As a coach, I need to do my part. That starts with assessing your game from many angles. I will test your current skills using my TrackMan radar, which allows me to quantify how good your overall ball striking is and gives us an advantage that no other coach and player have in this area. Then I will put you through some basic short game tests to determine proficiency in putting, chipping, pitching, and bunker play. Can you hit the basic shots necessary to score well? That is the real backbone of what we are doing here: this isn’t about just SWING, it’s about SCORING, and at the end of the day that is what golf is about. Hyper-focusing on your swing only leads to a better swing, not necessarily better scores. My promise as a coach is to set a plan out for you that is going to cover all areas equally, including the mental game that encompasses a good routine and leaving bad shots behind.
Part of this journey also involves some honesty as well, as many of the students who come and see me have a different or biased opinion of their games, and when they are truly assessed in an accurate manner the truth sometimes hurts. Don’t worry about it! This is a necessary portion of the process of getting better and playing the golf of your dreams, so give yourself up to it and be honest. In the end, that “true baseline” will give us a better starting point for getting to our goal.
So what exactly happens next? We have agreed on a goal, you are committed (meaning you will PRACTICE regularly and properly), and we have assessed your skills and know exactly where we stand. Now I will go to work on the main areas in your game that are hurting your scores. It won’t be about the golf swing if I feel you can put the ball in play most every time and generally make center contact with the golf ball. Instead, we may go right to your short game, which is easily the most neglected area for most people due to time and lack of facilities. In general, many of the students that come and see me can put the ball in play well enough to score better than they do, but they lack the ability to get the ball in the hole, which is always the main goal!
So if you are tired of the same golf game every year and never getting better. Take a look at other things you do well in life and apply that same type of commitment to your golf game. Partnered up with a qualified coach who has all of the tools (and some others don’t, like TrackMan), and a committed attitude, you just might reach heights you never thought possible. I’m ready – are you?