Coaching a Winning College Golf Team, Part 3

Continuing our college golf coach series, here are some more things a great college golf coach should do:

3. Initiate a Player Development Program (continued)

As we stated last time, a coach should work with each golfer through a player development program. Using the compiled metrics and recent tournament/qualifying results as a foundation for discussion, the coach should meet with each golfer for at least one hour monthly. There should be clear goals set by the golfer in conjunction with the coach and also the golfer’s swing instructor. The golfer should know how far he is from reaching a professional golfing level, what areas of the game are holding them back, and what practice drills will help them improve their golf game. If possible, it would be helpful for the coach to stay in contact with the swing instructor so everyone is on the same page. The whole point of the player development program is to help the golfer prioritize his practice to improve. They should also discuss the 4-5 year plan – including if and how a golfer could leverage a red shirt year to transform their game while still staying in competitive shape (i.e., competing in amateur tournaments outside of the college schedule).

Note: a video library of each player’s swing should be kept on file (on a monthly basis) to help the learning process.




4. Schedule Playing Lessons / Course Management

Each practice day, the coach should select one player to go out for a nine-hole playing lesson. The coach, who should be fully versed in the skill of course management, should accompany the player on a nine-hole round, where they talk through how to play each shot and what they could improve upon to help the player shoot his lowest scores.

5. Tournament Preparation for the Entire Team

Coaches should gather every piece of relevant information regarding an upcoming tournament and hold a team meeting to discuss it with the team. Given the current state of technology, the following items should be handed out / discussed ahead of time:

  • Course Map with the layout of all 18 holes in relation to each other (obviously, with north facing up)
  • Weather forecast for practice round and tournament days – so they know what type of equipment they need to bring
  • Wind forecast should be marked on the course map so each golfer knows which holes will be playing tougher or easier (and where they should take advantage of the wind and where par will be a good score – ahead of time rather than walking up to the tee box and adjusting their game plan)
  • Yardage books for each golfer so they can learn the course ahead of time
  • Types of grass; speed of the greens
  • Pin position charts and expected pin positions (if courses are on a rotation system and info is knowable ahead of time)

Other information should be gathered during the practice round. Given you have 5-6 golfers on the team, each one should be responsible for mapping out a certain portion of the green on each hole. We will discuss how in a later blog, but this information can be aggregated and then given to each player so when he plays his 3-4 tournament rounds that he has a sense for how the ball will break around each hole location (as well as the intensity of the break).




Conclusion

While the best college golf coach may have many more tricks up his or her sleeve, these are some areas that represent potential opportunities to lower the team’s score at every tournament all season long – perhaps taking a team that finishes in the bottom half of the standings on an annual basis and moving them to the top half (or even to victory when luck is on their side). Look for some of these attributes in the college golf coaches you speak with. If they’re not doing some or all of these, then they’re not maximizing their team’s ability to win. Good luck with your college choices!

For college golf coaches, there is always room for improvement. Please leave comments with other interesting or innovative approaches to coaching college golf programs.

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