First name terms – The Portugal News

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By Neil Connolly,
in Sport ·
23-10-2020 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

It’s a really interesting job that I have, when I say “job” it really is in the loosest sense of the word.

I haven’t really ever worked outside of golf and I don’t have a boss (Fiona excluded), I have one of the prettiest offices I’ve ever seen and I get to talk about improving golfers’ games on an hourly basis.

I’ve probably played 8 times this year, so far, and may squeeze in two or three more games, yet I’m quite content with my own lot at the moment. even during these momentously strange times. With all of that in mind it does strike me as unusual to have two conversations, due to their lack of confidence, in the space of a week where I’ve been asking my players, “Why do they play golf?”
These conversations are all around giving my player some perspective around the game and talking them back off the ledge, from quitting the game completely. I hastened to add that this hasn’t got anything to do with my coaching, it’s more to do with the pressure my players have put themselves under, through wanting their handicaps to dip below either 18 on one hand and 10 on the other.

If you are setting yourself goals of improving your handicap, you have to love practice and take a little guidance from somebody who knows what they’re talking about. You also have to love competition, and it’s not the normal type of competition that golf asks of you. Both of my players’ opening statement was, “if you could sort my mind out I could be a good player!” or “It’s all between my ears!”.

When I ask them why do they play, they used the word ‘enjoyment’. Yet everything about their body language, tone of voice and demeanour said otherwise. In fact, I would imagine being tortured for four and half hours may have actually been more of a pleasurable experience then what my guys have just gone through on the golf course.

After a good conversation with them I set the goal, the primary goal for every golfer, of going out and enjoying themselves, end of, no more, no less. Practicing a little bit more is in their future. Get back to the grass roots of getting the ball in the air, controlling the club at a speed where the body and club know what they’re doing, be a pleasure to play with, and enjoy a cold one at the end of the round. If you can’t do that then maybe you should be doing something else.

What was apparent, with both players, was that their reactions to their performance was disproportionate to the level that they were playing at. These two players are not tour professionals getting ready for the Masters next month, nor are they getting ready for their own national championship, these are society golf competition rounds where their handicap can only go up a couple of points at a time. This is what I mean by disproportionate, their livelihood and mortgage is not affected by how they play. Yet how they play is affecting how they are living.

Connecting with my players on that level is hugely rewarding because I know that the level of enjoyment towards the game should be increased. It’s very personal and it isn’t taken lightly at all. Yet it is just golf and only golf, a hobby or a game that should be played under the umbrella of enjoyment.

And when I say it’s a lot of fun connecting with the player and seeing them with the plan that they are excited about is everything. So what happened this morning was particularly amusing and put everything in perspective. A solid lesson was given, my player was buzzing about the week’s work in front of him, his parting words were, “Thanks Ian, really enjoyed the lesson see you next week!”

Like I say it’s just a game and I don’t have a proper job!


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