When I first started playing professionally, I created a five-year plan, in which at the end of each season, I would review and evaluate my performance.
For this evaluation, I had a set of criteria that I would work my year against to determine if I was improving and whether or not I would keep playing.
It wasn’t all about scoring average or money earnings – although they were important and tied to each other – but most important to me, after I figured out if I could afford to keep playing, were two things.
Was I improving and was I still having fun?
If I felt one of those two things weren’t there, then I felt I needed to take a hard look at what I was doing.
During the first five years of playing, my improvement criteria went through three distinct areas that are the cornerstones of the Core Golf Junior Academy – swing, body and mind.
While I wasn’t initially aware of anything more than my swing mechanics, I soon became aware of how important fitness was and I think I was among the first of players in my era to start working out and running.
I remember down at Royal Oak in Titusville, Fla, I would be out running when other players would pass by me in their cars and honk, laugh and yell out at me not to hurt myself. Now, we now know how important it is to be in great shape in order to play the game week in, week out.
The one mysterious area for me was always the mental game or the mind demons of golf as I use to call them.
I always felt if I could get my swing in great shape, my body in great golf shape, then the rest should just take care of itself.
As we all know, that isn’t the way it works. I have seen some great swings on the range go sideways on the course, so what to do?
During that period of evaluation, I was working on my swing with Mark Evershed, who I have always thought was among the most knowledgeable instructors on the mechanics of the golf swing I had ever met and still do to this day.
Mark is a golf machine instructor and all of today’s great instructors – Core Golf’s PGA Tour coach Sean Foley included – have Golf Machine inside of them and Mark was an early Certified Instructor or “Machiner,” as they are called.
Mark also helped me in other areas and one was with the search for someone to help me figure out how I could become mentally stronger and perform well under increasing levels of pressure.
It took us about six months, but after meeting a variety of people, I eventually met a gentlemen by the name of John Weiser, who had been with the University of Toronto psychology department.
John was very instrumental in helping me figure things out both on and off the golf course through an approach called Psychosynthesis.
I won’t get into great detail into what Psychosynthesis is, but will sum it up by saying it is a holistic approach to the human experience that is both psychological and spiritual.
John and I worked together while I played and even after I stopped playing for a living, we would get together to talk. Unfortunately, John passed away last fall, but he left a piece of himself with me which has been passed along in the way we coach our students and operate our business at Core Golf.
In our quest to help students better understand themselves and their performance on and off the golf course, we are bringing in a full-time director of mental performance this fall.
That person is Bob Skura, a native of Kitchener, Ont., who has published a significant amount of work on mental performance in golf.
In my next blog I want to tell you about Bob, what he is bringing to the Core Golf Junior Academy and the Inside Out coaching program we have in store for our students this year.