Interesting Steve Elling piece on Sean Foley — though the only real surprise is that it has taken so long for Foley to get some strong American coverage. Thanks to reader “Geoff” (yep, tongue in cheek there) for the tip.
Steve Elling writes an interesting take on Foley, not that much of the information would surprise Canadian readers. There’s a bit of a different take on how he acquired Ames as a student, but that’s the part that varies most from the storyline. There’s no doubt that Foley has his fans, which is why David Leadbetter is now bringing him up in conversation. Call it competition. Nothing unhealthy about that.
Here’s Elling’s take:
“Around OCN,” PGA Tour veteran Greg Owen said, “we call him the Dalai Lama.”
Sean Foley had an idea he wanted to be involved in golf instruction when he was 13 years old.
That’s not all he has going for him, which is nice.
Even in the here-today, gone-tomorrow business of swing gurus, the glib Canadian overnight has become perhaps the hottest coaching property around, an analyst to both rising stars and seasoned veterans. A little more than three years ago, he was an outspoken, slightly heretical teacher with no prominent clients who enjoyed questioning the stagnant status quo associated with teaching the golf swing.
Now you should hear some of the ear-catching names he weaves into casual conversation. No, not Hunter Mahan, Sean O’Hair, Stephen Ames or Justin Rose, a few of the tour players he schools.
We’re talking about Carl Jung, Buddha, Albert Einstein, Aristotle, Confucius and Abraham Lincoln. Foley sprinkles his conversations with quotations from iconic deep-thinkers like some of us drop in lines from Caddyshack. Forget the funny deathbed line from the movie — Foley, 35, seems to be working on gaining eternal consciousness right now, which is part of his appeal to his pupils.
It is Foley’s tendency to talk big that made me question him a few years ago.My opinion is changing. Last year one of Foley’s students, Jessica Shepley, told me that “Sean didn’t just change my swing — he changed my life.” Now that’s intriguing and perhaps made me take Foley more seriously. Fits nicely with the Dalai Lama notion. And for every pupil like Immelman, who flirts with Foley and then heads back where he came from, the Canadian swing coach seems to be winning others as converts.
I particularly like Ames’ comments on Foley’s reading habits, though I somehow doubt they are quite as extensive as the Calgary golfer suggests:
Right then, he effectively became the youngest swing apprentice in history. Many coaches are former, and often failed, professionals. Foley honed in on the coaching thing and devoured every piece of information he could get his hands on, sifting through the theories and discarding stuff he thought was pointless. That in itself is hardly unusual, since he possesses one of the most inquisitive minds in the game.
“He must read about 300 or 400 books a year,” Ames said. “And some of it is weird s—.”
Time will tell whether his success in three or four years translates into something greater. I keep awaiting the brand that comes along with most swing coaches. Maybe that doesn’t interest Foley, maybe he doesn’t want to be Butch or Lead or Pelz. Regardless, the success of his students is forcing U.S. media to try to find out more about him, thus this story.