May 1, 2019

The Secret is: There is no Secret

My good friend and fellow PGA Professional Ted Eleftheriou, the Director of Golf Program Development for the PGA of America, recently posted the following on LinkedIn:

  • You don’t get better by reading about golf.
  • You don’t get better by thinking about golf.
  • You don’t get better by watching golf.
  • You don’t get better by talking about golf.
  • You don’t get better wishing you could play better golf.

You get better by putting in the necessary amount of deliberate reps in the areas of your game that need it the most while embracing an “open mindset” that you will get better in golf and by of course…playing golf. Sorry to those who thought I had the “secret” to playing better golf. Wait. Actually…that is the secret to playing better golf!

In a past life, Ted and I spent nearly two years teaching the game side by side at MetroWest Golf Club. At the time, he was building the Create Golfers Academy and I was building up the Little Linkster’s Academy. Although separate businesses, Ted and I shared a lot of the same philosophies on teaching and coaching the game. To adults, as well as juniors.

A few Golf Range Magazine issues ago, I made claims that one of the most important things for juniors learning the game was to have an undying passion and love for golf. While that is true, I can’t understate the importance of Ted’s recent message on LinkedIn.

For golfers to improve their game, they must have a plan, a path and work on those things deliberately and diligently. As coaches, we have to encourage and educate them so they know they’ll need to be committed for long stretches in order to see the desired results. To many people, this may indeed sound like that dirty word: Work. As coaches, our job is to show them that it doesn’t have to be work if the process is properly structured.

Make sure you help them develop a plan that allows them to work on areas where they need improvement, but also has elements of fun and competition sprinkled in.

When I was young, growing up in Upstate New York, my golf friends and I would spend every waking moment on and around the golf course. We would spend countless hours picking spots around the practice green to try and get up and down from. We would challenge each other. Even to the point of hitting from knee high rough or out of the pine trees. If that wasn’t hard enough, we would step on each other’s ball for good measure, embedding it into the ground.

When I was older, as an assistant golf professional at Winter Park Country Club, I would challenge the juniors that hung around the course to do the same thing I did as a kid. A favorite shot was a blind 30 shot over the pro shop to the practice green (I don’t encourage this shot if your pro shop has windows). This was fun, disguised as work.

On this topic, my message to junior golfers on this simply: Golf is hard. Golf is fun. But if you want to take it to the next level, have fun working hard at your game.