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post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I haven't actually posted anything here for a while, but everytime I pop in for a little "current affairs" reading, there seems to be some talk of golf, so I thought I'd throw this topic out at ya to provide some exercise for your collective teaching and coaching minds - mostly your coaching minds.

As a golf pro, one of my duties is to employ and train assistant professionals. One of my staff members is attempting his "Playing Ability Test", one of the requirements for becoming an assistant professional. Prospective professionals are required to play 36 holes, with a total score of 152 or better over the two rounds to qualify for CPGA membership.

Yesterday was an awesome day - he posted an even par round of 72, only 2 off the low round of the day and more importantly, in a very solid position entering the second day.

Today was supposed to be day two, but moments before tee time, the round was called off because it had rained heavily overnight and the superintendent felt that the course was too saturated to play. The rescheduled second round will not take place for another two weeks.

Here's a young guy sort of knocking on the door of his destiny, so to speak, downright pumped to get out and play, feeling in "the zone" - all of you golfers know that rare feeling - and all of a sudden, he's told he has to wait for two more weeks to play his second round.

He came back to the course in an understandably "mixed" mood - disappointed mostly, angry, and given that he's 21 years old and full of boyish hormones, he will likely stay on this emotional roller-coaster for the next couple of weeks. Telling him not to think about it would be like duct-taping a banana to your nose and telling you not to look at it.

The number is sitting right there - if he shoots 80 or less, he's in. 80?? This guy could shoot 80 with a rake and a shovel on a normal day - but I've also seen him shoot 92, he hasn't gained the maturity in his game yet to make even a mediocre score like 80 a lock under pressure...his scores this season range from the 60's to the 90's. And now he gets to ponder the situation for a full two weeks...

Part of my responsibility to him as my student is to help in whatever ways I can... but in this case, I'm not sure what I should be doing. When it comes right down to it, golf is the ultimate mind game, and the owner of the mind is solely responsible for the outcomes resulting from his decisions on the golf course. Over the next couple weeks, he's going to play that course a zillion times in his mind - with a zillion different outcomes. How can we keep him from going koo-koo, outside of inducing a coma?
post #2 of 24

Very cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by niceturns
I haven't actually posted anything here for a while, but everytime I pop in for a little "current affairs" reading, there seems to be some talk of golf, so I thought I'd throw this topic out at ya to provide some exercise for your collective teaching and coaching minds - mostly your coaching minds.
Quote:
Originally Posted by niceturns


As a golf pro, one of my duties is to employ and train assistant professionals. One of my staff members is attempting his "Playing Ability Test", one of the requirements for becoming an assistant professional. Prospective professionals are required to play 36 holes, with a total score of 152 or better over the two rounds to qualify for CPGA membership.


Yesterday was an awesome day - he posted an even par round of 72, only 2 off the low round of the day and more importantly, in a very solid position entering the second day.


Today was supposed to be day two, but moments before tee time, the round was called off because it had rained heavily overnight and the superintendent felt that the course was too saturated to play. The rescheduled second round will not take place for another two weeks.


Here's a young guy sort of knocking on the door of his destiny, so to speak, downright pumped to get out and play, feeling in "the zone" - all of you golfers know that rare feeling - and all of a sudden, he's told he has to wait for two more weeks to play his second round.


He came back to the course in an understandably "mixed" mood - disappointed mostly, angry, and given that he's 21 years old and full of boyish hormones, he will likely stay on this emotional roller-coaster for the next couple of weeks. Telling him not to think about it would be like duct-taping a banana to your nose and telling you not to look at it.


The number is sitting right there - if he shoots 80 or less, he's in. 80?? This guy could shoot 80 with a rake and a shovel on a normal day - but I've also seen him shoot 92, he hasn't gained the maturity in his game yet to make even a mediocre score like 80 a lock under pressure...his scores this season range from the 60's to the 90's. And now he gets to ponder the situation for a full two weeks...


Part of my responsibility to him as my student is to help in whatever ways I can... but in this case, I'm not sure what I should be doing. When it comes right down to it, golf is the ultimate mind game, and the owner of the mind is solely responsible for the outcomes resulting from his decisions on the golf course. Over the next couple weeks, he's going to play that course a zillion times in his mind - with a zillion different outcomes. How can we keep him from going koo-koo, outside of inducing a coma?



Fabulous post, a PGA pro up here asking for advice from ski coaches, love it. How about a trade out


That is an interesting situation. I'm just a 7 HC (I show a 9.3 Index here in Utah - its a tournament thing here ) but have be thinking of going for my PAT as well as I am on V1 Online (for ski racing), why not.


On to your situation. Drugs? Okay, no that won't work.


You know and I know that confidence is the only thing that will get him through it. If he is not confident when he steps up for his first tee shot the day could very well be lost.


I hate saying this to athlete's I work with but to take some pressure off I start with, the day will turn out the way it does. In his case he can go out and take the PAT again in what, 6 months? So it does two things psychologically, takes a bit of pressure off as its not the end of the world if he blows it, it does not define his game forever, yet, he will see that he really wants to focus on the things the will get it done this time.


I’m sure he understands how to manage his game and how important patience is. You’ve taught him all that already. He’s smart enough not to be greedy and compound mistakes as long as he stays patient and keeps his cool. We know that.

So what are those things he can do? Practice? Playing new courses? MONEY GAMES! I have found that money games (not big money, but something at stake) puts most players, regardless of who they are in the tournament pressure zone. I know the PAT is different, its not a tournament, but if goes out there and plays as if he is going for Q-school, Nationwide Tour and he is on the bubble to get up the PGA, he will get used to the pressure and gain confidence.


The money game is just a tool to get a player in pressure. Anybody can score when they feel good, no pressure and putts are falling - right, its the pressure that cause the break down in the swing and then the loss of confidence in each successive swing.


I just took a flyer at this, I hope I didn't overstep the invitation.


With respect coach,


MuscleHead
USSA Cert. Coach
post #3 of 24
Wow, what a tremendous learning experience! I would coach the fellow to approach it as such and try to squeeze all the learning and self-knowledge he can out of the next two weeks for it could form the foundation for the personal sport psychology which he may later generalize to clients, e.g. developing his insight/intuitive smarts vs. book smarts. Teachers without this "into-me-see" can only be second-rate.
post #4 of 24
I'd start by asking him what his plan is for the next round and what his concerns are. Does he want any help? Do you "need" to give him help even if he does not want it?

Does he understand his weaknesses that cause him to be inconsistent? Is it course management? Is it a swing fault? Is it a specific aspect of his game? Can he use his extra time to become a better golfer or does he need to fill the time to keep his mind off the test?

Telling him that emotional control at his age is a tough task probably won't tell him something he does not already know, but it can be the start to a fruitful discussion. Being in the zone is not an everyday thing. There's no guarantee you'll get it two days in a row, once a week or one out of 10. So being in the zone as an advantage gets thrown out as soon as the round is over. What is carried over from the first round is extra strokes. This is an emotional positive that he needs to take into round two and use first off as a confidence booster (you may know this, but you have to TELL YOURSELF this is so). It gives him options to play conservative (knowing he does need 2 great scores) or aggressive (knowing that he can afford a mistake or two as long as he takes his medicine when he makes a mistake). Before he starts round two he needs to consider how his warm up went and what the conditions are and make some decisions about how he plans to use his advantage hole by hole and how much trouble he can afford before he needs to change his strategy.

If he's worried about scoring 90, have him watch/review some of Tiger's "grind" rounds (i.e. ideas for how to get a low score even when things are not working) and then also ask him what he would do in round 2 if he HAD scored 90 in round 1 (i.e. these are things he does not HAVE to do). Having a bad day can happen just as easy as being in the zone. It happens. But having a toolkit that includes a reliable swing, course management skills and good preparation (sleep, warm up, diet, clean clubs, positive mental attitude, etc.) tilts the odds in favor of a zone day over a bad day. Knowing what the toolkit does for you and that you have a good one may be all that one needs to eliminate "mental" from the list of reasons for getting a 90.

It sounds like this young man should know that he has the game to pass this test. Show up, do what you know how to do and you are done. Because his average game will get the job done, all he has to do is "play" to "win" (as opposed to "playing to win". If the number one goal is to have a good time no matter what, then the rest of the goals come a lot easier.
post #5 of 24
niceturns,

Your story reminds me of the day I passed my PAT. Another player and I had both shot 75 in the first round which was two below the passing average. In the second round (which in the Colorado section is the same day) the other guy kept blowing driver into oblivion ultimately missed by about four strokes. As much as I wanted to but knew I couldn't, I had an overwhelming urge to tell his caddy to break the driver in two early in that round. Fairway, green two putt and go home with pass written beside your name-that is all it is about on PAT day. After over 10 hours on the course when that final putt rolled in I was too exhausted to say anything. All I wanted to do was go home and go to bed.

Not knowing your staff members mental make up here are a couple of thoughts:

One of the things I did with some kids trying out for the high school team was to play a round with them and every time they hit a good shot I would pick the ball and throw in the crap and tell them play it from there and still make par. It helped them develop the skill of focusing on gettting the job done no matter where they put the ball and if they found the crap in try outs-hey I've been here before-no big deal.

Corollary to that he needs to focus is thought process on just the one shot he has to hit now. Every other shot was irrelavent. I know when I passed that day I knew exactly where I stood in relation to passing-it took an extreme effort to put success out of my mind and just focus on fairway, green and two putt.

Maybe you just bury him with so much other work he doesn't have time to dwell on the final round.

Are you going with him to the final round or does he have a caddy that you can work with on what to do if he gets too pschyed?

The BIG thing is that he is better than half way home with a nice cushion. And as much as he wants to put it to bed with that 72 in the first round he has met the criteria to enroll in the PGM (PAT target score/2) with the condition of fully passing the PAT before his Level 3 checkpoint. I hope he realizes that. Port St Lucie awaits!!!

I'm sure that in a few weeks you'll be able to say to him just as my head pro said to me the day I passed-"Welcome to the profession!"
post #6 of 24
VERY interesting stuff.

the dude is 21, can crack 70, but still occasionally boosts it in the 90s?

something very wrong with his emotional makeup, not likely just youth, more likely he has ADD or ADHD or something similar.

the skill to crack 70 more than 2x or so is not something that comes and goes and visits the youth as a gift of youth. it shows a developed golfer who has the ability to manage both his swing and the course.

a single digit HDCP dude shooting above 90 with some regularity shows more than immaturity. it shows there's some sort of emotional rollercoaster that is extreme and beyond the norm.

or at least that's how I see it.

I was a 7 HDCP while in college, blew up and shot 92 in a tourney in Ligonier PA when there were classic squalls coming through, 20mph winds, slanting rain, 48 degrees. the situations were tough, I wasn't tough in them. there went my game.

but for the most part, when I became able to crack 80, I found it very hard to blow up above 90 unless the circumstances were extremely dire.

as one who has bouts of emotional difficulty and has seen his mental prowess cycle from bold to timid and uncertain,

I would suggest that this young guy might have something going on in his noggin that is more than just a question of maturity and its companion, confidence.
post #7 of 24
Perhap the golfer is not ready to be a pga teaching professional. I would not want instruction from a pro who can't control his own game, or his emotions. How would that help me?
post #8 of 24
Failing a test is a sure fire way to highlight a problem. But the test is only a step in the process towards becoming a PGA pro. If teaching pros do not have to work to resolve their own problems, then they are lacking something that is a key component of effective teaching: the understanding that all problems are not just easily resolved by doing something different. The man is ready for his test.

I know plenty of things to I need to do to improve my own golf game. Doing them is another matter. I know plenty of ski pros that know what their ski problems are. Some of them even know how to fix their own problems. But actually getting those problems fixed is much harder. But most of us also have problems that we either don't know we have or we don't understand how serious they are. Taking tests can be a great (albeit brutal) way to learn what we don't know.

One of the coolest parts about taking clinics with examiners and demo team people is that they know so many different ways to get from point A to point B skills wise. If you're having trouble following one path, they can usually suggest a different path that will work better for you. And there's a good chance that at least one of those paths in their quiver was one that they personally took. Recognizing a need for and successfully initiating a new approach is a hallmark of a great pro. Acquiring this capability often starts with personal experience.
post #9 of 24
Nice turns,

This situation is very similar to racing DH. You're all keyed up and mentally prepared to jump in the starting gate and launch an aggressive, on the edge of survival plunge down an icy slope at 80mph,,, and the weather turns. The race is postponed till tomorrow and you're left drained from the effects of unreleased adrenaline, and then have to find a way to work back up to the same preparatory peak in 24 hours. Many can't do it.

But,,, there within the dilemma lies the pot of gold. It's all mental perspective. The way I dealt with environmental/pychological adversity as an athlete (and how I helped my athletes to deal with it) was by stepping away from it and seeing it as the opportunity it is.

No matter what the situation of stress, be it postponement, miserable weather, poor visibility, challenging snow conditions, whatever,,,, understanding that all the other competitors are feeling the same apprehensions, disappointments, and de-motivations as a result of the adverse situation can represent an exciting opportunity for the competitor who understands that if he can overcome the natural tendency to frown he will have acquired a competitive edge over his down in the mouth peers.

Just the simple mental process of coming to that realization can prove to be extremely motivating.
post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by firstracks
Perhap the golfer is not ready to be a pga teaching professional. I would not want instruction from a pro who can't control his own game, or his emotions. How would that help me?
I think you sell people short if you assume the only person suitable to teach you is a PERFECT HUMAN.

I think it also smells a bit of high arrogance.

but I don't know you and I'm just guessing based on the above post.

MANY MANY great teaching pros have been people who don't have the greatest game around. knowing the swing, detecting the problems, and suggesting fixes that work for a particular person, those are the keys to quality instruction.

having temper flare-ups doesn't make one unfit for teaching. for pete's sake, what kind of utopia do you live in? I want to come visit. perfection is the greatest thing going, and if you have it in your immediate circle, I'm ready to come squat on your ground and poach your perfection.
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzostrike
I think you sell people short if you assume the only person suitable to teach you is a PERFECT HUMAN.

I think it also smells a bit of high arrogance.

but I don't know you and I'm just guessing based on the above post.

MANY MANY great teaching pros have been people who don't have the greatest game around. knowing the swing, detecting the problems, and suggesting fixes that work for a particular person, those are the keys to quality instruction.

having temper flare-ups doesn't make one unfit for teaching. for pete's sake, what kind of utopia do you live in? I want to come visit. perfection is the greatest thing going, and if you have it in your immediate circle, I'm ready to come squat on your ground and poach your perfection.
agreed - Brad Gilbert sure worked for Agassi for a while. Certainly if this guy can overcome what is described then the point is moot I guess.

No perfection here I assure you. I can't putt for beans.
post #12 of 24
Firsttracks, on the putting, one of the best practice drills I have come across is to set up the putt and then shut my eyes to stroke. It keeps my head still. (It's amazing how consistent my putting is with my eyes closed, but the drill doesn't work when you're playing for score--something about trust and relaxation, I'm sure.)

The Scots, a dour and pessimistic race, invented golf to prove the imperfection of man.
post #13 of 24

One step in a journey

Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty
But the test is only a step in the process towards becoming a PGA pro.
Indeed!

For the information of those not familiar with the PGA's program here is a brief recap.

The Playing Ability Test (PAT) is the first step in a journey on the way to membership in the PGA. The goal of the PAT is to test the competency of a candidates golf game. It has nothing to do with your teaching ability or business acumen. It is the price of entry. Candidates will play 36 holes either in one day or over two day-it depends on the individual sections practice-and meet or beat a target score which is two times the course rating (what a 0 handicap golfer would be expected to shoot) plus 15 strokes. Depending on the course this two round target generally ranges from 150 to 155. Sound easy but usually only about 20% pass. Trust me I spent time on the PAT "tour" trying to pass.

After passing the PAT the candidate may enroll in the PGA's Professional Golf Management Program which involves three stages. At this point you are considered an apprentice. In each stage you will have an extensive number of self study programs and work assignments to complete which must be documented in a large binder (known as a work kit) which must be approved first by your Head Professional and then the PGA's education staff in Florida. These assigments range from the golf swing to business management.

After the PGA approves your work kit you sign-up to go to Florida to be tested on the assignments you just completed. The apprentice will take anywhere from 8 to 11 tests in Florida-pass them all or you get sent home-with no refund. You pay about $1,600 for this priviledge-each time. After passing the tests in Level 1 and 2 (not in any way corresponding to PSIA cert levels) you spend a few days in pre seminars reviewing your upcoming assignments prior to returning home. About 44% of those who pass the PAT drop out at or shortly after the Level 1 checkpoint.

I still vividly remember sitting outside the testing room waiting for the scores to be posted and just watching the stress on a lot of peoples faces. Potentially your career is on the line.

At your final checkpoint after you pass the tests you have two final hurdles to graduation- a presentation to your peers on an industry challenge and your response as well as a "mock" job interview for one of 12 golf positions. Both are pass/fail.

From enrollment date you have exactly two years to complete each Level, a total of 6 years in all.

Graduate and then if you have accumulated enough service credits, based on formal education and work experience you will be elected a Class A member of the PGA. The final cost to an apprentice is about $6,000. Not cheap.

From there a myriad of career paths in the golf industry are available to you. Teaching is only one.
post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the interesting input gang. A few notes of interest...

We happen to be going for the Canadian PGA card here, the process is very similar to that of the PGA of America, but differs slightly. Without going into a lot of useless detail, it's basically the same egg, just cooked differently...

nolo has nailed it, with her comment about this being an opportunity to gain the real personal experience that will one day make this fine player into either a finer player, a fine teacher, or if he chooses, both. Her comments reveal that teaching greatness transcends the particular sport being discussed.

The test is about learning to control one's game, and one's emotions. I believe there IS a secret to golf, and it is here where it lies. Control of the emotions is in itself control of the game.

For many golfers, it's not that we CAN'T control our emotions... we CHOOSE not to control our emotions by indulging ourselves of the most immediate reactions that follow our shots - slamming our club into the ground, swearing, calling ourselves names... Instead of practicing this aspect of the game, we choose instead to go to the range and hit balls. This is called EXERCISE and it should not be confused with PRACTICE.

One of the things we work on with our guys is a post-shot routine. You've all heard of a pre-shot routine, and if you play golf you probably use some sort of one in your own play.

We talk about the other end - what you do after you hit a shot is more important than what you do before. Golf is played one shot at a time, and once the shot is over - it's over. No amount of emotion, swearing, pouting, negative self-talk, etc will change the result. We encourage our guys to use a post-shot routine - after every swing, hold the finish for a silent count of three; this instead of the undisciplined CHOICE of immediately indulging our negative reactions. You may find that after holding your finish for a count of three, the reaction you wished to make immediately following a shot may not seem as necessary anymore. To use a computer analogy, you simply close that window and walk to the next shot ready to open a new window - a new shot with all kinds of new possibilities you may not have considered if you were occupied with finding new nasty names to call yourself, or dragging your club down the cart path.

Bed time... thanks for the chat.
post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 

Oh yeah... special note for gonzo

He is capable of shooting in the 90's, but he doesn't do it with regularity. The guy does great work for me in the shop, so we can rule out the ADD stuff...

We can sum a lot of the variation in scores in three words... GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS!!!

Honestly, I don't know how he keeps his stories straight...
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by niceturns

The test is about learning to control one's game, and one's emotions. I believe there IS a secret to golf, and it is here where it lies. Control of the emotions is in itself control of the game.

For many golfers, it's not that we CAN'T control our emotions... we CHOOSE not to control our emotions by indulging ourselves of the most immediate reactions that follow our shots - slamming our club into the ground, swearing, calling ourselves names... Instead of practicing this aspect of the game, we choose instead to go to the range and hit balls. This is called EXERCISE and it should not be confused with PRACTICE.

One of the things we work on with our guys is a post-shot routine. You've all heard of a pre-shot routine, and if you play golf you probably use some sort of one in your own play.

We talk about the other end - what you do after you hit a shot is more important than what you do before. Golf is played one shot at a time, and once the shot is over - it's over. No amount of emotion, swearing, pouting, negative self-talk, etc will change the result. We encourage our guys to use a post-shot routine - after every swing, hold the finish for a silent count of three; this instead of the undisciplined CHOICE of immediately indulging our negative reactions. You may find that after holding your finish for a count of three, the reaction you wished to make immediately following a shot may not seem as necessary anymore. To use a computer analogy, you simply close that window and walk to the next shot ready to open a new window - a new shot with all kinds of new possibilities you may not have considered if you were occupied with finding new nasty names to call yourself, or dragging your club down the cart path.
This is good stuff. Me - I just completely had to rebuild my swing(see the gender post) so, in a nutshell....the worry is if I use my previous ball position in my stance it is likely I will close the clubface at impact and pull the ball left. So I hit the ball solid and pull it left, does anger serve a purpose? Obviously not, yet even at age of 50 anger was getting in the way.

Makes much more sense to review and fix the ball position, reload and rip(reload because the pull often results in OB) Yesterday, par 3 149yds...7 iron pull right ob. Step back, review ball position. Realize and assess that swing was solid(pin high offline) and the only fix required is ball position (move back about 2 inches in stance) Preshot routine, step in...pull the trigger again. Result? 5 foot putt slammed home for a sweet 4 about 2 minutes later. Yep this is good stuff. Makes a lot more sense than hitting 3 more balls OB and not solving the problem. Thanks Niceturns....I 'm gonna put it all together now.

Regarding the point made in above post on Brad Gilbert( a not the best player who made the best coach) his "ugly " tennis book changed my tennis game(and my coaching of tennis) forever....brilliant...one of the best sports instruction books ever written IMO and a must read for any athletic coach.
post #17 of 24

How well does he know the course?

As a six handicap I know that how well I play on any course is a function of how well I know it. How well does know the course he'll play at? If he knows it well, then he can probably know it better. My advice would be to have him play it as often as he can and to get to know every nook and cranny out there.

On another matter, Nolo said
Quote:
one of the best practice drills I have come across is to set up the putt and then shut my eyes to stroke. It keeps my head still. (It's amazing how consistent my putting is with my eyes closed, but the drill doesn't work when you're playing for score--something about trust and relaxation, I'm sure.)
That's the drill I used to break through my 10.0 plateau. I did it indoors over the winter. I could hit another ball 65% of the time with my eyes closed from 10feet. It helped eliminate one of the three variables in putting, that is, actually hitting it in the intended directions.

BTW, after going through this apprentis procedure, how much does a new assistant pro at a club earn?

Bob
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by niceturns
He is capable of shooting in the 90's, but he doesn't do it with regularity. The guy does great work for me in the shop, so we can rule out the ADD stuff...

We can sum a lot of the variation in scores in three words... GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS!!!

Honestly, I don't know how he keeps his stories straight...
understood on the girls.

as to the ADD, a person can function pretty well at a lot of things and still suffer from ADD or ADHD. in fact, one can go to law school and become a successful attorney, and then transition to in-house counsel for a decent-sized business.

but you're probably right, the girls do distract. I refused to date any women while in law school for that very reason.
post #19 of 24
Quote:
I refused to date any women while in law school
If this isn't a set-up to a great punch line, I don't know what is.
post #20 of 24
what? why are you holding back? the invitation remains open. as is the door.

please step through.

(with the punchline, that is)

(or with a nice young lady to meet me, now that I'm not in law school)
post #21 of 24
Thread Starter 

Update

Success - we got 'er done. It's all in the caddie.
post #22 of 24
Nizeturns, Hooray!!!

Gonz, the punchline is, "Then who did you date?"
post #23 of 24

Yeah!

Quote:
Originally Posted by niceturns
Success - we got 'er done. It's all in the caddie.
Nice work!! It has to be attributed to his caddy.

Hopefully you made him sign a contract giving you 10% of career earnings!!! Oh yeah, an assistant pro in the offing-let me see 10% of 0 is-well tear up the contract.

What are his next steps in the Canadian PGA program-just curious how it differs from our program down south.
post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo
Nizeturns, Hooray!!!

Gonz, the punchline is, "Then who did you date?"
girls. of legal age, that is.
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