The Merits of Group Work in Golf

February 14, 2019 Jeff Overholt

The Merits of Group Work in Golf

At GPC, we believe that group activities are extremely important for the healthy and complete development of our young players.  All of the young athletes we work with are encouraged to participate in group work, despite the individualism inherent in the sport, for the following reasons:

  • Group practice is less lonely
  • Belonging to a group provides more direction and purpose
  • Sparring partners encourage us to present our best self in training
  • We can learn so much from others, be it peers or coaches.

Competitive golf can be a lonely endeavor.  The combination of measuring individual performances and the fact that the game pits you against a large group of individual competitors who are most certainly not on your team, can make for an experience of deep solitude.

For some, this solitude is a welcome relief from the “challenges” of team sports.  Most of us have participated in a team sport where the dynamics were off and the experience was jaded by the faults of a few teammates or coaches.  And so individual sports like golf can be a refuge from these tough group experiences, offering more freedom and self-determination.

But those freedoms (i.e train when I want, compete when I want, aim where I want) often eventually morph into a feeling of anxiety and even angst.   If there is no team policies, no rules to follow, then we can find ourselves in a place with no direction, no purpose, no “greater good”.  In competitive golf, we have only ourselves to blame at any turn in the road.  We cannot lean on the efforts of others while we might happen to “take a shift off” for whatever reason.

Having someone else to train with can be both comforting and inspiring.  In many cases, we witness significant increases in the quality and quantity of training time of our players simply by having them in a group rather than alone.  The pitfalls of our “human condition” – be it laziness, goofiness, or lack of focus  – can be overcome simply by pairing one person with another, and encouraging them to bring out the best in each other.

No individual is born with all of the knowledge and experiences they will need to reach their fullest potential.  There is not a successful person in history who hasn’t collaborated with countless other people to derive best practices and refine their own skills on the path of their journey of mastery.   The “other” can act as a sounding board for our ideas, can help us by modeling good actions to emulate (or bad ones to avoid!), and frequently can offer an individual athlete the missing link in so many young athletes we meet for the first time– someone who listens to them and engages in dialogue and exchange of ideas – without judgment.

 

At GPC we work with a number of professional players, and it would be fair to say that the solitude quotient only intensifies as one progresses in the game.   Tour stops, especially mini-tours and qualifiers, are seemingly the most lonely place a competitor can go.  Mixed into a field of 150 or so great players, with only a handful of spots or dollars open to the very best on that day, the early days of a professional players career can be lonely and disheartening at the best of times.  Nobody in the field wants you to succeed, as the place you might take could be theirs.

These reasons are why we focus so much of our coaching energy at creating connections and group environments with our students.  We work hard to bring a collaborative feel to what is otherwise a totally individual endeavor.  And based on the feedback from our players and families, this has been a welcome component of our program options.   All players we work with do compete on their own, and do train for the majority of their time alone.  But, we also provide them with a team atmosphere where they feel part of a group, can associate with other people “like them”, and can draw the benefits from group work.  More than any other feedback, players appreciate the team atmosphere of our programs and are happy to maintain these friendships for years and years.

We offer team / group coaching opportunities for juniors both in the GTA and abroad. Pleased reach out to us if you have a junior golfer in your family who is interested in enhancing their training through group coaching.

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