Intro to Coaching a High School Golf Team
Part One of a Series
As a PGA Golf Professional, my main objective is to grow the game of golf, to introduce it to non-golfers and to increase the skills and enjoyment of established players. The task, and a task it is, in coaching high school golfers is in the motivating. In my 5+ years of coaching 14-18 year olds, I have seen that getting them to devote any undivided attention to the game is quite improbable. But, as a few of my students have proven over the years, this endeavor is not impossible? I took over a program that consisted of four boys and a girl. Two years later, we had 17 kids, and a division championship. A year after that we established a girls team and now we have 25 kids in the program, between the boys and girls teams. Based on the students I have coached, I have categorized my student athletes into four categories.
1) socialites - kids who generally do not play other sports and join the golf team to say they played a sport. Many of the kids in this category play because their friends do. As a golf professional, I do not make cuts and welcome everyone to enjoy the game. You never know who may just discover a game they'll play for the rest of their lives.
2) dreamers - little talent but a desire to learn and a respect for the game. I will spend as much time with these kids as they want. Improvement is a challenge, but the enjoyment they attain from their time on the team makes it all worthwhile.
3) talent but no heart - great potential, but either lazy or disinterested. This is the biggest challenge on my docket. With some heart, time spent and real practice, these kids could play at the next level. With their desire, it is impossible.
4) talent, heart and a bright future - There have been three players to play for me to have the talent to play college golf. One opted for soccer, one for his studies and the other has transferred to community college and is considering the PGA Professional Golf Management Program. Depending on the region of the country in which you reside, the number that fall into this category can fluctuate greatly.
Having worked as hard as I did to attain my PGA status, I know just what it takes to get to one of golf's highest levels. It is this knowledge that I want to instill into my players. Some value this experienced mentorship, and others couldn't care less. The key in this ultimate endeavor is to simply not give up. The golf season for my girls is eight weeks in the spring and for my boys, eight weeks in the fall. The key to a successful high school golf program is to engage your student athletes year round. Communicate with them about the game as often as possible. Keep it fresh in their minds. Talk rules,etiquette, equipment or tournaments on television. Don't let them think that it is a topic for two months per year. It may take a dozen texts or emails or social media posts to organize a one hour January practice at an indoor golf range, but for the few kids that show up, it's priceless. Don't expect overwhelming response from most of the kids, but do hope that the enthusiasm of the few that really care is contagious. If you really want to grow a golf team into a high school golf program, then you have to do all you can to ensure that your heart and desire carries over to your players.