The landscape of amateur golf has changed dramatically since the sport obtained official sport status by Sport Canada in 2005. On a provincial level the sport of golf has also been transformed by becoming a part of the BC Summer Games in 2004 and the Canada Summer Games in 2009. This has resulted in much more funding available for the development of our BC athletes.
It is the goal of British Columbia Golf to assist in the development of our athletes and aid them to become among the best players both nationally and internationally. As a result of the changes in amateur golf, the role of the golf coach has been transformed as well. A coach teaches much more than just the mechanics of the golf swing. Coaching now focuses on the development of all aspects of the athlete and includes such things as sports psychology, fitness training and nutrition.
Additional Coaching Information
British Columbia Golf is committed to developing a well-rounded performance program as supported by the Long Term Player Development framework for golf in Canada. As stated in the 2017-2020 strategic plan of the Association, superior performance and highly qualified coaches are key goals and essential in providing all BC players with best in class.
BC players and teams are systematically achieving national and international results at the highest levels of competitions through the core values of British Columbia Golf: ethical practices, inclusiveness, respectful and responsive programs and services. These services provide the guidance and benchmarks required to support the elite golfer effectively on the technical development pathway to enhanced excellence.
The Head Game
By Jim Ongena
I love golf! I love it because it’s challenging at all levels from beginner to professional and in all three domains: physical, mental, & emotional. I love it because I learn through it. Initially it’s learning the physical things like grip, stance, and swing. The swing alone is so complex it could keep me learning for a lifetime. Next comes the emotional and mental teachings which are even more challenging….even for seasoned professionals. These mental skills are the focus of this article as they become critical for elite performance.
For the vast majority of golfers, it’s swing mechanics that limit their performance. But once you get a 'dialed in' swing and can shoot low scores, it’s your mental skills that will make all the difference. Like any sport or challenge at the top level, your performance improvements require new skills that have little to do with your sport.
There are thousands of golfers who are capable of hitting a great shot but unable to do it consistently or under pressure. There is another level of golfers who can shoot even par on a good day then turn in an 81 another day. Even PGA pros can open with a 64 then miss the cut with a second round 75.
This is why I love golf….it’s challenging even after you become very good at it. Many top players have excellent swing mechanics, they practice often and use swing coaches when needed. The same players don’t practice mental skills as often or use mental coaches, even though they agree that the game becomes largely mental at the top level. This irony puzzles me. Maybe it’s because they’ve read Rotella’s book and know enough to get by.
Maybe there’s a stigma associated with working on thoughts, feelings, moods, and beliefs that make some shy away. Some use their dad or swing coach to help with this piece of their game. Most elite golfers know how to control their golf ball, they can hit a fade or a draw on command. When it comes to controlling their emotions however they are less skilled and cannot produce their best game under pressure.
Anger outbursts and inconsistent scores are evidence of this. Players at the highest level should know the difference between a thought and a mood, how these affect performance, and how to identify and alter them on command. Some have studied and developed these skills but many have not. If you want to win your club championship, get through Q-School, enter the LPGA, or prepare for the Champions Tour, you’ll need to sharpen your mental skills.
“Take a step inward in order to move forward”
Here is a partial list of some of the concepts you’ll need to explore: Fear, appreciation, flow, trusting, assumptions, beliefs, affirmations, reframing, detachment, pressure, anger, parking, filtering, optimism, centreing, worry, and the basics of thought management.
Thought management is an underrated skill I’ve taught for years as a life coach and just recently discovered the benefit to golfers. You will have thoughts during your swing, after a three-putt, while walking between shots, and driving to the golf course. All these thoughts have the power to serve you or destroy you, yet few people have developed the skill to effectively manage them.
Some thoughts you will need to summon at a moment’s notice while others are needed to prepare for an event months away. It’s advisable to utilize an expert to help you with these skills because discovering WHY you fluctuate from a 68 to 78 is not easy. Problems can be obvious but are often well concealed. The issue may be one of trust, confidence, or focus… any one of which will keep you out of the winners circle.
It’s no wonder that more and more professional players are spending more time with their head coaches…this stuff is complicated and confusing and has a serious impact on scores.
I love golf because it’s challenging and it keeps delivering even when you reach the top. If you are looking to reach the next level perhaps you should make mental preparation part of your overall preparation.
Jim is a well known motivational speaker, certified rock guide, and corporate trainer with the unique gift of developing high performing teams. Although he has four university degrees and eighteen years of teaching experience at the college and university levels, his most meaningful learning has come from his adventure experiences. Jim is also a performance pundit who helps golfers find their best game.