During the 80’s I worked as a sales exec for the computer software giant Oracle. I was diligent at my job and enjoyed a great deal of success in selling software and hardware solutions to Finance Directors of large multi national organisations. As part of the company’s “marketing mix” they had signed up to corporate membership at the fabulous golf club Wentworth. An interesting byproduct of this was the ability for the likes of me to take customers and prospects for a round of golf. A tough job but someone had to do it.
I met with the then head pro at the club David Rennie. I was so impressed with him that I booked a series of one to one lessons with him. My expectation, understandably naive on reflection, was that he would teach me to hit a golf ball straighter and farther than I had ever done before. I couldn’t wait.
We had the first couple of lessons on the driving range. And sure enough by careful tweaking and re designing everything from the way I held the club, my stance, swing and follow through my striking became much better. He had taught me how to hit a straight long golf shot. But whilst my scores did improve, putting what I had learnt into practice was not enjoying a step change in the scores that I shot. (That was the effect of training.)
So following a rather robust conversation with Ian I agreed to pay for him to accompany me whilst I played a few holes on the East course. As I remember it was quite nerve racking at the time.
The third hole on the East course has a dogleg to the right. There is even a handy little map showing you the layout. For some reason I ignored these tell tale signs cunningly left by the course designer and my ball ploughed it’s own furrow into the trees on the left. Somewhat disgruntled I picked up my golf bag and walked off to find my ball. As we were walking towards the forest Ian stopped me and asked a simple enough question but one that was to have a profound effect on both my golf game and my life in general;
“As we walk towards the ball Neville what are you thinking about?”
“Why I played such a bad shot of course,” I retorted looking for inspiration.
“I can see that Neville but what else should you be thinking about?”
Clearly the game of golf dictates that you should try and take as few swings and puts as possible. The Eureka moment hit me. I couldn’t alter the errant shot that I had made, but with careful course management I could see a way to recover the hole. And that is exactly what I did. My scores from that day on started to improve dramatically and I congratulated myself for having made such a step change improvement in my game.
Now that’s coaching.