By: Dr. Rick Sessinghaus, PGA, coaches at Valencia Country Club and is the author of Golf: The Ultimate Mind Game.
As a coach that specializes in the mental side, I’m often approached by parents of junior golfers telling me their child needs to be more like Tiger. What they observe is their child needs to be more serious, more intense, don’t talk to other players, in order to play better. I disagree. I believe who you are, your personality, can shoot low scores and trying to be someone you are not would actually be counterproductive. This applies to all ages of golfers. We have all seen the likes of Lee Trevino, Ben Hogan, Tiger Woods, and Phil Mickelson all achieve greatness, yet they all had different personalities.
Personality is more about “who you are”, while behavior is “what you do, how you act”. As coaches our objective is to help our student act optimally to the situation. Once a player is ready to execute a shot I want them acting with focused attention on what is relevant, confident in their skills, and with a relaxed body. In between shots I want a golfer to be themselves. If they like to be talkative to other players then they should do that or if they want to remain quiet then that’s how they should be. I use a DISC profile that is geared specifically for athletes. This profile helps the golfer become more self-aware of what motivates them, their preferred communication style, style of coaching they best respond to, and the most effective training environments.
Our role as coaches is to definitely improve the golfers’ mechanical skills; however we can also encourage the golfer to be themselves on the golf course to play better and enjoy the round more. Some of my coaching helps the player identify their preferences when it comes to pace of play, being analytical vs. creative, and being introvert vs. extrovert. When we get to know the person, we can do a better job of improving the golfer.