It takes an age to play, and that’s just if you play the one golf course, every terrain has a different way of sending a ball into the trees, bunkers and even some nerves thrown in. It’s not an easy game in which you’ll feel welcome, or that you belong, and don’t even get started on thinking you’ve mastered the game! That will never happen, many retirement has been ruined by somebody taking up the game of golf.
You have to admit that somebody going through all of this rigmarole and actually getting to the stage where they were beginning to love the game should be applauded. What tends to be forgotten though is that confidence at this stage is very fragile, especially when well meaning fellow players try their hand at coaching on the golf course just as this young golfer is finding their feet.
Any comments, criticism even if it is meant with good intentions can be devastating for the newbie golfer. Especially when all the player wants to do is play, and the coaching is unsolicited. It’s the most frustrating part of being a coach, is when you’ve got the player on their feet, facing forward with the terror of the golf course beginning to evaporate their playing partners don’t have the common courtesy of taking care of their own game and keeping their mouths shut.
It’s a strange coaching session when I have to give advice to a strong individual, who has held a position within society which carries an awful lot of responsibility, about how to politely tell somebody to “sod off”. Or keep their opinions to themselves and concentrate on their own ball. It seems politeness can be the catalyst for someone losing their confidence, where they just go along with the instruction with the hope that the player who has never broken 90 actually knows what they’re talking about.
Talking to somebody about their golf game, namely their faults, on the golf course is an absolute recipe for disaster. Every coach knows, and every serious player lives by the code of look after your own ball, and if asked after the round, ‘was there anything going on that you could see?’ tread extremely carefully, as carefully as if your significant other has asked you how they look minutes before you are about to walk out of the door.
In fact I can pretty much guarantee the best response for everybody concerned, would be, ‘no I couldn’t see anything, perhaps you need to go and see the pro.’ Nice bit of deflection and during these strange times I’m sure the pro would be very thankful for the extra business.
What’s the worst part for the players concerned is this I know that my player who received this unwanted coaching on the golf course will probably never play with the individual ever again because they felt so uncomfortable. Fortunately the damage was only temporary and my player very quickly found their confidence back and armed with some useful phrases should the same situation ever occur again.
What’s really ironic about the situation is that all of this advice was meant to be helpful and kind hearted, yet the opposite outcome occurred. So be careful golfers, as the saying goes, ‘free advice is often overpriced.’ or my personal favourite attributed to Red Adair, “If you think it is expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.”