Intro to Coaching a High School Golf Team - Part Two of a Series
Enthusiasm is Contagious
As I mentioned in the first part of this series, most high school students, especially those in the northeast aren't breaking down their Athletic Director's office door to join the golf team. Building up participation in THIS sport takes work on the coaches part. Much of that responsibility can be shared with the kids themselves. Designated captains should be the eyes and ears of the coach on a daily basis. They should be talking up the program and the benefits that they are getting from it. As the title of this section states, this enthusiasm can be and most often is, contagious. The more kids involved in the program, the more other kids, especially those on the shelf, wavering back and forth, will be inclined to say "what the heck", why not? My attitude is that if a kid gives it a chance, he or she will be very inclined to stay. The student will improve and hopefully the enjoyment he or she derives from the game and the lessons learned as a result, will sell him or her for life. If the kid never breaks 60 for 9 holes, but tells me five years later that he is still playing, maybe not as often as he may like, but at least he is playing, then I know I did my job as a golf pro and as a coach, as a mentor.
Developing personal relationships with these kids is important. Getting to know their families and involving yourself in their other school activities is vital. The times dictate that keeping families in the loop is a must. Total transparency is a simple way to ensure that all your efforts are viewed for what they are, genuine attempts to promote the game of golf, increase participation at the high school level, encourage dedication and improvement by all participants and create an asset for your school. Be a friend to your players and the relationships will carry over to the golf course. You will see your influence, as minor as it may be actually become part of them and when they succeed, you feel good, even for that small part you may have played. In an age when every kid gets a trophy and having fun has superseded winning, harping solely on the competitive aspect of the sport will push them away. There must be a combination of learning, fun, athleticism, and socialization involved. This combination has proven effective for me. You can't be fake it though. If you're just in it for the wins and the banners on the gymnasium wall, let them know that. Dedicate yourself to those victories. As far as I'm concerned, you may be better off coaching football. Though you never know. Maybe your approach will be as effective for you as mine has been for me.
Today is one example of a positive day for our golf program. There is a new indoor golf range with state of the art golf simulators a half hour from school. I met three of our lady golfers there and had a productive one hour session. As positive as the swing improvement session was, the simple communication about school and life was as productive and necessary. So after an hour of practice, we discussed our team's spring schedule and made arrangements to meet several more times before the team's official spring practices commence. After leaving there I made a simple call to one of my top male players to plant the seed for next week's practice session. So, there weren't many of our two dozens golfers present today, but for those who did attend and the others who will hear about it at school on Monday, it's a big win. Forging these relationships is vital to building a genuine, effective group of any kind. This is how I've built our golf program. By lighting the fire under a few vocal students, you are marketing your golf program to the whole school.