Three years ago, Sean Foley had a dream. Now it wasn’t some Martin Luther King dream. Nope. He told the Globe’s Lorne Rubenstein that he aspired to coaching Tiger Woods. I thought it a ridiculous thing to say. And I wasn’t the only one, though my blog on it comes up higher on Google than the others apparently.
“You were like one of 500 guys to say that,” says Foley from Florida. Nice remark. He could have as easily said, “Nah, nah, nah – I’m coaching the world’s No. 2 golfer and you’re in Toronto, writing on a blog.” He didn’t – but he could have. Probably even had the right to.
Now he coaches Woods (something he says didn’t become firm until just over a month ago), along with a bunch of other guys you’ve heard of – Sean O’Hair, Stephen Ames, Hunter Mahan, and Jamie Lovemark, among others. He’s arguably got the best roster of players of any working swing coach, young players with lots of game and lots of promise.
But he isn’t overwhelmed — Foley downplays his seemingly crazy schedule.
“Busy was sitting on the range at Glen Abbey from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.,” he explains. “This isn’t as busy, but can get out of hand if you’re not paying attention to your schedule.”
While working Woods through an overhaul of his swing, Foley is hitting the media – hard. Until now if you searched for Foley you found a blog I wrote in 2007 asking whether he was a wanker. People think I held that opinion when truthfully I always found Foley an outspoken, engaging interview, even if his tendency was – and still is – to talk in hyperbole. He’s a big picture guy, the type who swings for the fences and either bangs it out of the park, which seems to be the case lately, or misses big.
Suddenly Sean Foley is ubiquitous.
“That’s a great word,” Foley says, laughing. “I’m ever evolving. But I don’t get out of bed thinking about making money.”
Regardless of his financial ambition, Foley is bringing out a DVD (www.seanfoleydvd.com), one that condenses his thoughts on the golf swing into bite-sized, easier to swallow concepts. I’ve often heard from those who have taken lessons from him that Foley can get esoteric, confusing players with his concepts. I’ve spoken to an equal number of players – like O’Hair and Mahan – who talk about his ability to script the message for the audience. In other words, he talks and teaches one way to O’Hair and another to Mahan, and presumably different still to Woods.
The DVD was shot by Foley’s brother, partly on Islington driving range at the Canadian Open, where most of the interviews with the likes of Ames and Mahan are conducted, and some in Florida. It uses interesting angles and computer graphics to create something more than the typical golf instructional film, something that has become saturated by one-camera Youtube.com clips conducted by some swing teacher on his home SLR Christmas present. I’ll give him credit for trying something more ambitious; after all, this is a guy who still doesn’t have a website. That’s not to say he hasn’t done a fair bit to promote himself – open any golf magazine from Canada and the U.S. lately, or turn on the Golf Channel and Foley is liking standing there, in full Swoosh gear. The DVD seems like a logical extension. In turn, he’s also signed on with Wasserman Media (which manages Hunter Mahan and Nick Taylor, among others, and for whom for tour pro Ian Leggatt works, along with former IMG player/agent Chris Armstrong).
What’s down the road for Canada’s most outspoken swing doctor? First there’s Woods. Foley says the focus is on one main component of Woods’ game – his driver.
“If there is one thing over the next year that I want to challenge myself is to make him No. 1 in total driving on the PGA Tour,” Foley says. Woods was 192 this year. “That would be my own personal thing. If I can help him become No. 1 in total driving, I just don’t see who is going to beat him.”
He also talks about getting more involved in philanthropy. He drops the names of the Gates Foundation and Warren Buffett as groups that have done a lot for charities. It sounds a bit over the top, but I’ve come to understand that’s how Foley thinks.
“I’m the type of person who gets the most enjoyment out of helping people,” he says. “And the way you help people is how you can at your own level. Previously may way of helping was to offer my services to tour players without charging them, which was my way of paying it forward. But as things increase monetarily, you can help other situations. I think a lot about single mothers and what they go through and how we can help them. I think about underprivileged kids – things that tear at most people.”