Some nice chap just asked me to explain what I meant when I sent a note to Robert Thompson’s blog about Sean Foley the Teacher of Stephen Ames.
In my opinion there are teachers and there are coaches, usually the teachers are PGA pros, family or others. The coaches are people who often will drive 100s of miles to become a coach of a prodigy or someone who has just won a tourney. If you want to meet Leadbeater just develope a kid so he or she can break par at 13 years of age, they’ll get an invite from the Coach! They only “teach” proven players. Michelle Wie’s coach is in Hawaii, David Leadbeater and his Company are her coaches. Unfortunately they have helped her into retirement. Score: Teacher 5, coaches 0. Similarly I think Ame’s teacher is in the islands, and Sean Foley is his most recent coach (is his brother still his caddie? if not Sean is filling in for the borther). Mike Weir’s Teacher is in Sarnia (where are you Stevie Bennett?), his latest coach is.. Jack NIcklaus had Jack Grout as a teacher, many others stepped behind him to build a reputation. Sevie learned enough Inglis to take lessons from Mac O’Grady (he is a brilliant person) and we know the rest of that story. A coach dispenses Tips for cash (tips are temporary).
I remember the 1969 Canadian Open at St. Georges’. My winter boss, Harry Obitz, was with me on the putting green watching Gary Player drain putts from 3 feet. This was his routine, to show his eyes (and brain) the ball going into the cup. “Why teach your brain to see missed putts?” was his answer. Anyway, Harry says to me “Pal o’mine, take a picture of me while I give Gary a lesson”. He walked over to Player, knelt down beside him and, as he reached out to touch his putter shaft he asked “Is that the same old shaft you started with?” and I clicked the shot. Harry became Player’s coach, at least he was to everyone who he showed the picture to.
The Coaches are easy to spot – always on the range at a PGA event, usually dressed in the same clothing as the pro and usually looking around to see who is looking at them, as in “See me teaching Tiger”. They even get comp cars from the tourney. Tiger’s teacher was his dad, Butch Harmon and Hank Haney are filling in for Earl. Do you think Tiger would be as good as he is without Butch and Hank. I think he would, Johnny Miller thinks he’d be better. Watch the coaches when their pupils hit a ball. If its a good shot they say “That’s the ticket”. When its not so good, their lips don’t move, they rotate their heads to see who noticed them. A smart coach will never do anything to discourage the fragile mind of the player, they just have to encourage their man , to occupy their mind while the stuff their teacher gave them takes over. Like remoras, they have to keep their meal ticket in good shape.
Don’t get me wrong, there might be some great coaches, but they’ll be at the rinks on Saturday morning. Right now, the number one teacher and coach is Bob Torrance, Sam’s dad. Some might leave him, but not for long! Anyway, that’s just my opinion.