When I made the decision to ‘get a real job’ and leave Tour life I didn’t realise how tough it was going to be.
There were, and continue to be, a load of tough reasons why.
Living in Brisbane, it was tough because there simply weren’t many opportunities around. There were in fact only a few but finding one that might tick all the boxes for me proved to be an impossible task.
As I filtered through them I decided after chatting with the crew at Golf Central BNE that it met most of my criteria and thankfully they felt I met a few of theirs.
So the tough part was now done, right? Far from it as I found out as when you start a coaching business from scratch in a new venue you hadn’t been around, it’s tough.
It’s kind of like any small business starting from scratch and I like the coffee shop analogy most. If I was opening a coffee shop, I actually need people to buy coffee first and foremost.
"My philosophy was to help people enjoy the game more … that’s it. Sounds a little pie in the sky but when I thought about it more and applied all level of golfers to that theory, it quite simply works."
It’s more than that though as I need that coffee to be good and then if I can throw the last two pieces of the puzzle – a great venue with great people – then there is a good chance I will get some repeat customers, who may even tell others about how good it is too.
I had a great venue, an awesome range and short game facility with an excellent vibe about the place. The product was there despite having a little rust and with people coming to the range to hit balls the signs were good.
The final piece was up to me as I was solely responsible for being the “staff” when a person came in for “coffee.”
As with coffee there are different beans and different skills at producing a good coffee so now it was my job to get the people drinking and be open to evolving as I go.
My research and study brain was all of a sudden given a jump start as I quickly realised I needed to know more, not just technically but also in how to deliver the knowledge.
Where did I also want to sit as a coach, there are so many places you could position yourself within the game and how was I going to create a point of difference to others?
After some serious thought about the sport I came up with a graph that told me huge amounts about the game as a whole. Now I won’t go into all of that right now, maybe that’s a whole other article but I can say that it helped me find my way and hopefully find my place within the competitive coaching industry.
So where did I land? Did I want to do what my mate and fellow tour pro Matt Ballard has done and specialise in an area and land a big name Tour pro as a client because of that expertise? Did I want to create an elite academy of good players hoping to have one or more of them make it to the big stage? Did I want to start out with juniors, ladies, beginners, pennant sides? Did I want to share my “on course, playing the game” experience from six to seven on Tour? Did I want to have “my way” to swing a club and clone my students fine tuning them until they were finally ready to go play?
Well the decision was tough but once I came up with my “golfer’s timeline” in my graph, the answer smacked me in the face. My philosophy was to help people enjoy the game more … that’s it. Sounds a little pie in the sky but when I thought about it more and applied all level of golfers to that theory, it quite simply works.
No matter what your level, if I can get you enjoying the game more we are both winning as is the game of golf itself. Even if you imagine an elite player, let’s say, Jason Day, if I can get him enjoying the sport more then there is a good chance he is playing better than he was before.
On the other side of the scale it might be a middle of the road 20 handicapper, who just wants to hold his own and enjoy his Pebble Beach experience with work colleagues and not embarrass himself … that one I know can happen as it already has for one of my students.
"For now though I am a player, even if it is just for one more week. I’ll get back to coaching next week."
Despite finding my place and philosophy to go with it, it has been a tough road but one that I am embracing. Every day has its challenges; different challenges from Tour life but there are constant rays of sunshine that make me want more.
I have a great mix of beginner golfers and some elite players at Golf Central BNE and to be honest, I actually love them all.
That sounds cheesy I know but I love helping someone improve, to see their smile widen and have them come back for ‘more coffee’.
I’m saying all of this as I play this week’s Australian Open, possibly my last as a player.
Yesterday I spent time talking to one of the all time greats in Australian sport, who has been going through the same sort of transition the past couple of years. His name is Lleyton Hewitt.
I was lucky enough to walk a few holes and chat during the Pro Am. He was playing with Jason Day.
It was the chat with Lleyton about transitioning from being a player to being a coach and mentor that I really embraced. He shared that I have to be willing to learn, willing to grow and willing to accept there are others out there that we can learn from. Great advice from a young coach, and advice this coach is taking on board.
For now though I am a player, even if it is just for one more week. I’ll get back to coaching next week. And if you are reading this and want a guy that cares, come see me at Golf Central and let’s get you enjoying this awesome game again soon.