I’ve coached hundreds of golfers during my career as a professional golf coach, I find out the motivation of every player during the player assessment when I screen for new players to join the program.
For me motivation is key to the whole process of achieving their golfing goals.
I took myself back to when I was learning this wonderful game to remember how I felt and what motivated me when I started to play. I was 13 years old when I swung a club for the first time and caddied at one of the local clubs, Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Sandwich. I had been a caddy for a couple of years for a weekend job, when I first swung a club myself. Up to then golf didn’t excite me, it was a job. It took me a couple of years to want to try. I much preferred to spend my money on other stuff, I can’t recall what, but it wasn’t anything to do with golf.
It was then at the age of 13, I was given two golf clubs, both were old. I remember one was a wood and I mean made from wood and the other was an old iron. This would was back in 1990 before metal headed woods where common. The wood had a slippery old leather wrap grip that made it a little tricky to swing, but I didn’t know any different. I remember swinging the club in my garden, I’m not sure what I was thinking but I remember putting a golf ball through the shed window, needless to say my mum insisted on plastic airflow balls after that point.
I remember the overwhelming desire that I wanted to be better at swinging the club. At this point I hadn’t played golf; I was only hitting plastic balls in the garden. We had a long garden, quite narrow which meant I had to learn to hit the ball straight first. I remember having to ask the neighbour who lived on the right of our garden if I could go and fetch each ball that went over the fence into his vegetable patch.
This motivated me to be straighter as I didn’t like to keep on asking and I certainly didn’t want to upset him on a daily basis. My motivation back then was to get the ball further down the garden. My motivation back then was to get better, so I didn’t upset Mr.Bax.
Over the years my motivation has changed depending on my goals and because my “why” changed as I improved, and I achieved new milestones.
Some of my major early goals, that I can remember were, to earn a Caddie Permit that allowed me to play in the summer evenings at RSG, you had to be able to play to a standard to get one of these. To win the Kirkwood Cup (Caddie Championship) at RSG, which I did . Then it was to play to scratch or have a level par round of golf at St. George’s.
After I won the Caddie Championship, I wanted to get an Official Handicap as up to then I think I had a casual handicap and thinking back I think I was far too honest ! I think I said I was playing to around 7 maybe?? I gained my first official handicap at around the age of 17 I think as I was fortunate to be allowed to join the Artisans at RSG, my first handicap turned out as 9.
After that I wanted to WIN the Open Championship, like every young golfer. At the aged of 18 started my career in the golf industry and my biggest goal at that point was to Turn Professional, which I did in 1997 when I signed my PGA contracts and started my training to become a Member of the Professional Golfers’ Association.
So early on I knew how important goal setting was and I still set 5 year goals for my golfing and perssonal life.
To me I think the “why” is what sets our motivation levels.
When golfers apply to join my Pathway Program during the assessment, I ask a series of questions to find out what they want from having golf lessons, I hear “consistency” a lot, I ask them to be more specific and break that down to parts of the game that they think needs to be more consistent.
Once we get to this I ask why, on most instances’ golfers explain that they lower their golf scores. I ask why again, I get answers such as “to beat my friends”, “to be less embarrassed” and “to enjoy my time on the course more”.
These are very personal feelings and as such make it very important to the individual. This in itself adds a layer of pressure to the golfer. This pressure can really be a factor in the process. Personally, I think this is good, it means its important to make a change as playing better golf is really important to them.
A good exercise is to sit down and just record this process , ask yourself what you want to achieve with your golf. Break it into 3-time phased goals. 1 month, 6 months and 1 year.
Record your why for how this will help you lower your golf scores for each of these goals.
Then, the really important final why.
Why, is it important to you to lower your golf scores and be better at golf?
I have found that once these are spoken out loud as well as written down, you will be motivated to do whatever it takes to achieve the reason why being better at golf is so important to you.
I do this with everyone I see for an assessment after they have contacted and applied to join my Pathway Program. The program is successful as I only chose golfers who have a big enough “why” that it makes improving very important to them.
Do the exercise above to find out your “why” it matters to you to play better golf, then consider getting in touch with me and if there is space then you may be playing your best golf in six months’ time.
Thank you for your time.