The College Years

January 20, 2020 Jon Roy

The College Years:
Sharing Experiences from the GPC Community at Canadian Schools

Over the past 12 years, the Golf Performance Coaches community has welcomed players of varied ages, cultures and interests.  This GPC community is made up of hundreds of passionate golfers who love to develop skills in the context of golf.   Each member of the community is unique, but all are connected in some way through shared goals and aspirations.  The sport of golf can be a lonely journey – an individual endeavour which can often leave us feeling “alone”- and so it has proven to be of great benefit to create shared experiences which bring individuals into more of a team, or shared, experience.

One of the subgroups in our community is “College” players who are mixing their golf and academics in Canada.  These are young men and women who are off on their own playing golf at a Canadian college or university, but who are also experiencing the joys and challenges inherent in the many stimulations of college life.  These students are in most cases members of a varsity golf team, but regardless of this connection they are also busy meeting new people and joining various work groups around their respective campus.

Presently, we have 14 GPC alumni in various post-secondary schools across the globe, and I thought it would be neat to share some of their experiences and reflections in the hopes of supporting our younger players who will soon be growing into this age.  GPC players can be found on campuses around North America and in Europe

For the purposes of this report, we asked our GPC community in the Canadian school demographic to reflect a little on their experiences and let us know their thoughts.  It has been most interesting to read their thoughts, and I thought I could synthesize some of their responses in the hopes of finding some neat aspects of the Canadian university route.

There is no question that the most striking tone I can derive from these responses is one which celebrates and almost yearns for “sense of community”.  Players consistently write about how their favorite experiences are ones which they share with other people.   It has been encouraging read about how the GPC community has had such an impact on these players, and how being part of our teams, and trips, and practices, has made these young men and women feel like they are part of something special – something which is bigger than the individual.  This is a reminder that coaching involves so much more than the skills of a particular game, but instead transcend into the character of the person.

I sent a simple questionnaire to our GPC players, and their responses were quick and quite thorough.  We have summarized the answers into a sort of “top 5” responses, and then I work to summarize the findings and draw out some common threads.

What’s the best thing about being at university/college?

  • Being a student athlete – the perks and benefits around campus
  • Meeting so many interesting people
  • Connecting with new people from around the world
  • Having the opportunity to focus on specific subject matter that means a lot to me – independence from home, opportunities to make new friends.
  • The sense of community.

Conclusions:

It seems like the sense of community on campus plays a big role in the happiness of our players.   In our experiences over these past few decades, we have found that young people are yearning for connection – they search out, and are happiest when they find, a balance to the loneliness inherent in this digital age.  Things like social media and online stimulation’s pale in comparison with opportunities to connect to other people, in the flesh, and have meaningful conversations and relationships.

It should be noted that many of the students polled mentioned consideration for the more personalized subject matter that one can study, a few mentioned how fun intramurals are, and then some notice was made of how it’s nice to be a varsity athlete and to gleam the benefits of this around campus.  It is such a great way to spend the university days – with the team dynamics of varsity sports and playing for the school logo.

What is an important skills you use all the time now, that when you were younger you overlooked how key it would be?

  • Time Management
  • Managing my time effectively
  • The skill of planning
  • Making goals, long term planning
  • Planning and time management

Conclusions:

Well, this one is unanimous!  No question that to be a successful, happy, student athlete one needs to have excellent planning and time management skills.  Not hard to work backwards from the application of these skills (performance) of planning in our early twenties and note how important it must be to develop these habits in the teenage years.  Performance is always simplified when one has built the habits required to perform, and the skill of planning and organizing ones time is surely one of the greatest skills one can habituate.   For my own part, a nice reminder that it is important to build long term habits as opposed to spending all of our time in training “putting out fires” and fixing swing “faults”.

Players elaborated on their responses more than in this summary, and it was neat to read players reflections on how valuable they find our GPC weekly reporting (YTP’s) to be.  Our performance plan work is certainly a point of differentiation from most sport programs available.  It’s funny, because as coaches we have always questioned the intensity of this “planning work” we do, thinking/fearing that players and families simply don’t see the value in this and would rather “fix their swing”.  With these unanimous reflections on the importance of planning, we as coaches are re-assured that the effort we put into the development of self-management is both relevant and effective.

Highlights of the first semester?  Or upcoming Goals?

  • Winning my first college event, always placing in top 15
  • Nailing a big putt on the last hole to help my team win by 1
  • Looking forward to GPC coaching role in the summer and making next year’s team
  • Teeing it up for the team 3 times in the fall
  • 1 team win and 2 individual wins in the fall

Conclusions:

The core value of our junior Mastery program is to celebrate the life of high performance, and so it’s not out of place to examine the performance highlights and goals of some of our alumni.  While we firmly believe that our role as coaches is to develop “Great people who are also great golfers (people first), it is not out of place to celebrate some of the performance achievements of GPC players in competitions.  It was nice to read the pride our players have for the ways in which they contributed to the success of their team.  GPC players have showcased great skill and scoring ability at these Canadian events, and have had a positive impact on their team.

Looking to the future, this success and positive impact from the present group of players in turn opens more doors for future generations of GPC players, who will be able to join teams and have connections with coaches and players immediately when they do.  Campuses around the world are being “opened up” by GPC players who are blazing a trail for future generations to follow.

Cool stuff you’re doing at school?

  • Volunteering for lots of neat organizations, attending sports on campus
  • Campus Tour guide – improving presentation skills!
  • Volunteering for neat organizations, intramurals
  • Interesting courses studying the impact of corporations on society
  • Organizing cool seminars and conferences

Conclusions:

Off the golf course, GPC players seem to have fully embraced the spirit of volunteerism and the projects and causes that surround campus life.  Many of our players are impacting their community through a spirit of “giving back” to causes and organizations, and the experiences they will be gleaming from this work will certainly only further their development into great people of the world.  I can’t help but reflect on the confidence and self-assurance required to be involved in these endeavours around campus, and I would hope that their development in the golf context has had some influence on these fine traits.

This question also acted as a reminder of the many great lessons available to us in the college/university environment.  Campuses offer access to so many stimulating activities, ideas and people, and make for such a fertile environment for ambitious young people to search out ways to make the world around them a better place.  It is nice to hear that the GPC community has such a broad and impactful influence on society.

First thing you think of, remembering GPC?

  • Holistic approach to skills development,
  • Guided learning about self and self-management – GPC is the most influential part of my life outside of family
  • Community – friends, mentors – games with other players
  • Curling matches, 4 footer elimination
  • Community of diverse perspectives, interesting self-discovery

Conclusions:

The common thread is the sense of community experienced through GPC programs.  Our players are grateful for the many friends and great people they have met, especially in things like the march break camp or group practices at the dome.  A nice reminder that players don’t really remember the content of lessons, so much as the feelings they have in those environments.  When they feel connected and cared for, they remember those experiences with happiness.

As a contrast, there was also considerable mention of the “grueling” games and competitions that infused our team practices.  Players fondly remember the most challenging drills and games and remember the times they were able to persevere and overcome the toughest of challenges.  In my experiences, resilience is a skill that we appreciate having, but are sometimes unwilling to pay the price to get.  One needs to have a willingness to live through the “humiliation” of defeat, the setbacks and hardships of failure, but to have the “guts” to accept these failures, take responsibility for them, and work hard to find solutions.  Skills for life and golf.   It would appear that players appreciate the mental strength our programs enabled them to develop.

Final Thoughts

As a coach, I am grateful to know these great people and to be able to call them friends.  I am happy that I have been able to impact their lives and provide an environment for them which has enabled them to thrive and grow into wonderful citizens of the world – citizens who can turn heads when they hit a little white ball, but more importantly can appreciate the many lessons this little white ball has shown them over their formative teenage years.

Reader Response

Please take a second to share with us your own best memories from your Canadian college years, or else some aspect of the GPC community that means a lot to you.  We draw one response/comment from our blogs every month to win a complimentary coaching session with one of our coaches, so don’t be shy to let us know your thoughts or comments.  It all contributes to our little community.

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Comments (2)

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    Jon Roy

    Great stuff here – enjoyed the read. My favourite memory of University of Victoria was the Intramurals and team trips to the US for sure. Great fellowship and fun…

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