Last year I decided to enter the world of coaching serving as an assistant golf coach at the local community college. I was very fortunate going into this experience in two ways. I grew up with a father who is a college basketball coach, and the head golf coach of the team I was helping with really gave me free range to do what I thought was best to improve the team. It was an incredible experience for me in terms of understanding competitive golf on a new level. I have always felt, at least in last 5 years, that my mental game was the strongest part of my personal package as a competitive golfer and after my experience coaching, I realize how important this is to the success of a golfer. I went into the year thinking that I would help my players with more of the physical side of the game like swing techniques and adding to the types of shots they are capable of hitting. In the end though, I felt like 90% of what we worked on and improved was the mental side of the game. I never realized that how you think when you are competing greatly outweighed how good your physical game was. Every night before tournament rounds we would sit up in the hotel room and plot mental game plans for each player. I learned through watching these guys play how important it was to be yourself when you play. If you are happy go lucky, you need to play that way. If you are super methodical, that's how you have to be during your round. As the season progressed our team got better. No one on the team was necessarily hitting it any better, they were just thinking better, being themselves on the course. We almost won our conference championship which would have been our first win of the season which was an incredible experience for me and the players. I was very proud of the improvements that we made as a team. Coaching was an incredible experience and it helped my own personal way of thinking when I play as well. I can't wait to get back at it this season!
Over my golf career I've played in many top tier amateur events and professionally for several years and some of the memories that stand out to me are moments I shared with friends who were caddying for me. You should definitely read this article before you commit to caddying for your friend next time they come looking for a looper, especially if you aren't sure what to expect. I will guide you through what the player expects of you and how to navigate through the week. First there are two types of caddies out there, the caddy who is more competitive than the player and the laid back caddy. I've had both types. First the competitive caddy; you can't be more negative or fired up than your player, it makes them uncomfortable. It makes the bad situations seem 10x worse. Your job is to keep the player calm and composed so they can play their best. Also, the competitive caddy always seems to be the caddy losing stuff like headcovers, towels, rangefinders, and even clubs haha. Your most important job is too keep track of everything, you need to be more engaged in that department, rather than how good or bad the player is playing. Keep calm and keep track of the stuff! Now, the laid back caddy can be even more challenging at times. This caddy always seems to be what I call the WE vs. YOU caddy. When things are good, WE are playing good. When things are bad, they let you know YOU need to start playing better haha! One time when I was on a roll, my buddy said, "Wow WE are tearing it up right now!" I responded back with, "WE need to keep up!" Which brings me to my next point. The laid back caddy has to walk at the pace of the player, there is nothing worse whether you're playing good or bad to be at your ball waiting for a caddy that is 20 yards behind you. When things are going good, you can't hit your shots fast enough and when things are going bad, the player doesn't want to wait around to hit bad shots. So the exchange I had with my caddy, although all in good fun, was also letting him know to keep up, I'm in a groove! The last point I'll make from the players prospective is, sometimes as a caddy there isn't anything you can say to make bad situations better. Golf is a game for realist. Bad situations are bad, don't make them worse by being overly positive and that goes for both types of caddy. Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all. Doesn't caddying sound like fun? But keep in mind I'm talking about caddying in important events. As a player though, you should always remember that this is your friend helping YOU out and YOU need to make it enjoyable for them as well, because after all, they are just doing it for fun and to help you out!
The question that every golfer has thought about at some point during their development, should I hit a fade or hit a draw. It seems like in recent years the golf industry has been pushing for amateurs to learn to hit that illusive draw while more and more tour players are moving away from the draw to hit a nice fade. Why are we pushing for average players to hit a draw? The answer is power. A draw has much less backspin on it therefor it goes further than a fade. The other side to that is that it also travels further off line when you hit a poor shot. Sam Snead once said he would rather have a rattle snake in his bag than a hook. Growing up in a family with three scratch golfers, two of which are professionals, I am the only one who hits a draw as their natural shot shape. Both my brother and father hit fades. I've came to the conclusion that it is less about keeping the ball in play and the shape of the shot, rather it's all about spin rate and ball speed. I am a very good iron player and part of that is, I know my draw. It does the same thing, at least most of the time haha. When I go away from my natural shot shape my distance control decreases. So to answer the question Fade or Draw? I would say go with what comes natural to you because DISTANCE CONTROL is probably the most underrated part of the game. Don't just worry about hitting it as far as you can or just accuracy because that will only improve your game so much. Worry about distance control because that will take your game to the next level. So next time you are thinking should I hit a fade or a draw, remember 20 ft. left or right of the flag, pin high, is much closer than right at it short or long of the green.