He’s the hottest guy in golf right now and when I called him to leave a message and congratulate him on Hunter Mahan’s 2nd win of the season at the Shell Houston Open, he answered and I was lucky to chat for a few minutes while Hunter teed off on the 18th hole. Sean Foley isn’t the typical golf coach and since this is where Canada Talks Golf, I thought it would only be appropriate to express a few ideas from another golf coach’s point of view.
In 2004, Clublink gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to work at Glen Abbey Golf Club and teach golf on the same driving range as Sean Foley. At that time, he was teaching more than most of us combined, including being the CJGA Head Coach, and running a junior program that included Canadian National Team Members Brogan McKinnon, Nicole Vandermade, and Jennifer Kirby, an incredible player at Alabama who also won her first NCAA Division 1 golf tournament on Sunday. Two other members of this program were Michael Gligic, Canadian Tour standout and Ryan Corbin, internet famous for his swings on Youtube and also a Canadian Tour member. All his players have always hit the ball well but this isn’t what makes his players champions.
For anyone who has spent a few minutes with him, he’s engaging and captivating where I have referred to him as a human magic trick… you know that moment when someone shows you a trick and you can’t figure it out so you’re in a sort of trance? I’ve yet to experience a deeper moment of intrigue or interest as this and that’s how an hour spent with Mr. Foley is like. He’s sharp and professional, well versed in a number of topics and can discuss them in a thoughtful, precise, and every day level, but most importantly, he’ll speak your language, whether you are an 18 year old college player or the CEO of a fortune 500 company. Some people have the ability to keep you involved in what’s going on right now and not let things drift away so when you can take this skill and apply it to a golf lesson, it’s an extremely productive session.
So now that you’re into what he’s talking about, and you’re hitting it a little better than when you showed up, you notice that you’re smiling more because he’s made it a point to be funny or caring and get the situation comfortable to a point that he wants to know more about you. I remember him saying that he was talking to a PGA player and Sean asked him what scared him… not now but in general. This same player has been quoted saying that Sean changed his life, and I believe a similar statement was made by LPGA tour player Jessica Shepley.
As a coach, I recognize that it isn’t all about the golf swing or the skills of hitting shots but more about doing any of that feeling good about yourself. The noticeable work with the former…sorry, future number one player in the world Tiger Woods is definitely more about getting him into a better place within so that this inner acceptance and content can shine through. Some people have said that he’s back and I personally think he’s close, but until we see the on course behaviour we saw in 2000, he’ll still be a work in progress I’m sure. The Official World Golf Rankings have been updated and with Tiger Woods at 7, Justin Rose at 9, and Hunter’s win moving him up to 4, Sean will be encouraging the 3 hottest players on tour this week at Augusta National, all who are within the top 10 in the world and I can guarantee you this is all by design.
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