Golf can sometimes get us down. But it’s too good a game for the desperation to last for more than a day or so. It’s just not that serious.

Bad stuff happens. I can remember being upset when I stuffed up in one of my first tournaments. On this occasion I shot some stupid score in the practice round (I think 5 under) and had grand designs on winning the thing. In the tournament proper I was a disgrace – shot 86 and 85 and missed the cut by a mile.

This sort of thing is part of the learning curve – it happens and builds character. What’s not acceptable is golf instruction bringing a kid to tears.

I received an email from a concerned father. His son has been taking lots of lessons and has reached a breaking point. He pulled out of his golf team for want of spending time on the fairway (to work on his swing) and then over the weekend broke down because of confusion over what he should be working on. He feels he doesn’t know how to hit the ball.

… after half an hour he was in tears and said he was that confused as he didn’t know how to hit a ball anymore

The father wanted to know my thoughts.

My reply: This kind of thing makes me really mad. Your son will do just fine if he is encouraged to play the game. Does it really matter about his swing right now? What has his swing plane, stance, backswing, or hip rotation etc got to do with golf if he stops enjoying the game? It’s almost bordering on professional negligence.

Let him play. Ask him to swing in a way that feels good to him. Get him to hit his favourite shot. Let him have some fun. And please do this before it’s too late. I could tell you some horror stories of young kids who have completely lost their natural flair and talent. It really is sad.

I promise you if he can play “his” way for a month or two he will get his game back on track. And just maybe, he will never need another lesson again.

The Dad got back with this comment;

last half an hour I just told him to walk up and hit it – he started to hit natural again – not great but 1000% better

There is no quick fix or miracle cure here. But a more natural and automatic approach will get the young man some sort of feel back. He’ll be able to have some fun. And I’m hoping he’ll start playing the game instead of working on his golf swing. Kids are learning machines and will do far better if we get out of their way. There’s nothing more to it than that.

This story whacked me between the eyes. In a way it’s close to my story and I hope my words can make a change. I’d hate to see this kid give up the game and walk away from the passion that he once had. And this is exactly why I’m getting back into coaching again. I feel there’s too much of this thing going on and not enough accountability – I know I can make a difference. Golf is fun and tears have no place – it shouldn’t happen.

Note to parents: Let them play. Some coaching is fine but “playing” has to be a considerable factor. So does fun. See this story for a perfect example of great coaching.

Note to coaches: It’s not about you. You’re not the most important part of the relationship. Coaching is not a competition to see how much information you can pass on. You are there to guide and mentor – not blabber on in every instant. Here’s another article that all coaches should read.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever been unsettled by over coaching?