One of the greatest gifts for an instructor is a young student that is willing to take your ideas, spend hours working on a plan you have laid out, and be willing to do the work required to improve. In my 20 years of teaching I have been blessed with many of these young aspiring junior golfers that have put their faith and trust in my ability to provide a roadmap that leads them to their goals. It is a responsibility that I take very seriously and one that motivates me daily to become the best teacher and coach I can be.
In my time with these young, motivated students, I have found that much of their success has less to do with what society calls “talent” and more to do with personal characteristics. These young people possess specific beliefs and understandings in addition to surrounded themselves with people who have a clear understanding of the process.
Organized: Even at an early age my most accomplished students are taking notes after a lesson, writing down our next lesson time in their daily planner and always seem to show up 5 minutes early for our appointments. When a junior golfer is organized it shows they are taking responsibility for their own game and improvement which is vital to their development. In addition, it indicates they already understand some basic time management which will become important as they navigate jobs, friends, school responsibilities and the hours of practice it will take to achieve their goals.
Maturity: Golf provides a unique situation where there is an endless supply of learning opportunities which takes years to grasp. The ability to understand concepts, course management and all that goes into playing the game requires a certain level of maturity. Golf is not a game of running, jumping and hustling, but instead involves thinking, strategy and knowledge. The best players possess a sense of maturity beyond their years which allows them to begin this process.
Modest and Inner Confidence: One of my favorite coaching lines is “show me, don’t tell me”. Golf is an individual sport where the only the person hitting the shots can take blame or praise. My best young players have an inner confidence that allows them to walk to the first tee with a belief in their ability to perform. They are not boisterous nor do they have a desire to verbally tell the world what a great player they have become. Instead they are modest in words and simply let their performance on the course show the type of player they have become.
Understand the Big Picture: Even for the best players in the world, there is an ebb and flow of good and bad performances in golf. At a young age, great players understand the nature of this and learn to navigate the emotions that come from competition. They never get too up or too down after a round knowing that their development is based on a long term plan not judged day by day. It is this “Big Picture” outlook that gives them the confidence to keep working and believing in their plan.