For the love of the game
By Brendon Elliott, PGA
What drives a golfer to be their best? What factors separate those that overcome rough patches from those who do not? I could easily list off some standard answers such as hard work, determination, an undying self-belief and several other traits that would indeed be valid. With youth golfers, however, there is one thing that is the differentiator.
So, what is this magic dust? It’s simply a passion and love for the game. By definition, passion is: A strong and barely controllable emotion.
Love can be defined in so many different ways, but for the sake of this article we’ll go with: Love encompasses a variety of strong and positive emotional and mental states, ranging from the most sublime virtue or good habit, to the deepest interpersonal affection and the simplest joy.
As a coach working with youth golfers, as well as the one guiding their parents in the process, I try to emphasize love and fun as the main themes that guide our long-term game plan. This model holds true for golfers at any level, and is even truer for the ultra-competitive player.
A great work ethic, determination, preparation, a charted and concentrated practice routine are all part of the equation. But no sane person would continue for an extended period of time doing something that they don’t love and don’t enjoy doing.
Several of my students have struggled with this concept at one point or another. It’s easy to let the results of a round or the length of time needed to perfect a new move take over one’s feelings towards the game. It can almost feel like an unrewarding job or a burden. To combat this, I try to help players look at the big picture. It’s a game, and one that most of the time sparks a passion like no other. This mentality helps make bumps in the road that much easier to get over and leave in the past.
As we coach junior golfers, we need to be actively aware of the emotional state of the player. Furthermore, we need to be conscious of our own emotional state, as well as that of the parents or adults involved in the process. We must keep the love and passion for the game at the forefront and always make sure the child is having fun! This is non-negotiable.