To understand my Coaching ideology, you must first understand my journey towards this thought process.
I grew up surrounded by a fanatical golfing family. I was not particularly interested in the sport, found it boring and much preferred horses!! However, my parents insisted on me giving golf a go and I found myself as a reluctant junior at East Kilbride Golf Club.
I would only play in the monthly medal and only on the promise from my parents that they would drop me off in time for my tee off and be there to pick me up as soon as I left the 18th putting green! They did not disappoint and this continued for a year or so until I actually began to enjoy it!! There was definite method in my parents madness!!
This was the start of my life as a golfer………
As I was not an avid golfer at an early age, I missed out on Scottish Girls competitions and tournaments and, on hindsight, this was definitely detrimental to my knowledge and understanding of the competitive game.
I played some Scottish Ladies events, County events, won my Club and County Championships and even represented Scotland at the Welsh Ladies 54 hole Open…..but, my main goal was to turn Professional.
I achieved this in 1989 and played on the ladies European Tour for 3 years. The coaches I had worked with over the few years had done a good job. I hit the ball further than the vast majority of players out there but I couldn’t score the way they did. My husband had taken a job caddying for some of the top players and I was in a unique position of being able to get an insight into their games. We would sit and talk about the rounds I played comparing them to the rounds of the top players. I would be sitting over par fighting to make the cut and his player would be 6 under par fighting for the tournament. I would hit the ball at least as far, hit as many green and yet I couldn’t get near their scores. What was the difference?
Simply this – of the greens I missed, I would rarely get up and down, they would rarely miss. I would have a three putt here and there, they rarely did this. I would par the par 5’s they would pick up a couple of birdies (up & downs again). I would be averaging around 34 putts they would average around 30. So there it was, I had been taught how to swing the club well, but left to my own devices when it came to the short game, mental management and course management (and Nutrition and Hydration was not even a thought in my head at that time!) Don’t get me wrong, at amateur level I was as good as anyone else around, but this was a different level.
I began to observe the top players and ask them about their drills. They were all very helpful. I began to work out practice routines with specific drills which would improve my skills. I began to improve. My stats were coming down, I was missing less putts, making more up & downs, worked heavily on pitching distances and was beginning to make progress.
Then, the next mistake. I went to work with a coach who, unbeknown to me, taught a method. There were several Pro’s working with this coach and we were all taught to make the same moves in our swings. Over time, I lost distance and accuracy but it was too late. I was back on tour for my fourth year and struggling to hit fairways and greens.
Around this time, The Gleneagles Hotel offered me a position to join their teaching staff as a PGA assistant Professional. It was a very generous offer and I decided to give it a go. I went to work at Gleneagles with a great bunch of Professionals working under the experienced eye of Ian Marchbank. I was a good student and took on all the Professionals had to teach me and we had great fun and a lot of pranks along the way. So thank you Mr Marchbank, Billy, Gavin and Scott.
I qualified four years later as Scottish Assistant of the Year and was the first female in the history of the Scottish PGA to achieve this! A proud moment indeed.
Towards the end of my training they had all moved on. Mr Marchbank and Billy had retired and Gavin and Scott took up Head Professional jobs at other Golf Clubs. This offered an opportunity for me. The new Head Professional, Greg Schofield, was keen for me to develop my coaching ideas and I was given the title Teaching Co-Ordinator.
I began to make changes to my clinics to create fun and strategic thinking within the sessions.
The line of young players bashing balls on the range went. I set up the range with games for them to play. These games were basically diluted drills I had used on tour to develop my own game. The drills were simply dressed up as fun games. With the better players, I started to steer their lessons away from just technical swing and began to work on all areas of their game introducing Stats, Pre-Shot Routines, Reflection of their rounds and yardages and much more.
And so to my coaching method, which I have to state, is still evolving and I am still learning.
1. Coach the Player not a method – each person is an individual and requires individualised technical, tactical, lifestyle and Physical approaches to enhance and support a player during their developmental journey to elite High Performance Golf
2. Ensure all my players have set goals and desires and to revisit and re-evaluate these goals on a regular basis
3. Make sure you leave your player after a lesson, with a clear understanding of what they need to do
6. Always teach positively and be supportive.
I am often accused of being too simplistic in my coaching, I disagree. As evidence I hold up my record as a coach of many great players and champions and the thanks I have received over the years from golfers of all standards, for the improvement they see in their game. I continue to learn and develop my coaching every day, it’s more than a job, it’s my hobby, my passion. I do not feel the need to impart what I know to the players I teach, instead I have the need to impart as little knowledge as a player will need to develop their game. It’s not about what I know, it’s about the player, it’s only about the player.