Having just recently attended the California Coaching and Teaching Summit, Matt Kilgariff, PGA, Director of Player Development at The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., was reminded of Butch Harmon and how important the lesson to never stop learning is.
I had the pleasure and honor of working with Butch Harmon for more than 13 years. I fondly recall him continuously encouraging every staff member to stay curious and be a lifelong learner to remain relevant.
Having just recently attended the California Coaching and Teaching Summit, I was reminded of Butch and how important the lesson to never stop learning is.
Jamie Mulligan, one of the foremost minds in golf instruction and CEO of Virginia Country Club in Long Beach, Calif., and coach to Patrick Cantlay and Nelly Korda, hosted a phenomenal event. The knowledge shared throughout the event was more than enough to make all who attended better coaches.
The talented and knowledgeable professionals that Jamie and his committee assembled were amazing. Speakers included: Mark Blackburn (coach to Max Homa, TPI), Dave Phillips (Jon Rahm, TPI Cofounder), Stephen Sweeney (Shane Lowry), Jonah Oliver (Cameron Smith), Suzy Whaley (PGA Master Professional), and Randy Smith (Scottie Scheffler).
As a coach, I hope you will find at least one nugget of inspiration that will help you become an even better coach. As a player, I hope you learn and apply something new to improve your game.
Mark Blackburn and Dave Phillips of TPI both reiterated the importance of screening players. Screening is necessary to learn of any physical issues that are leading to swing limitations or flaws. Once discovered and diagnosed, then develop a plan. The plan may include working with the player in the gym or simply figuring out the best way to work around the limitation.
Stephen Sweeney is a master putting instructor to many Tour Players. He offered up drills to help quantify practice. My favorite was the North/South/East/West drill:
• Place five tees at each quadrant around the hole
• The tees will be placed in a spiral formation at 4/5/6/7/8 feet
• Make 15 out of 20 and you will reach 0 strokes gained according to the PGA Tour stats
Jonah Oliver is one of the world’s experts in elite sport and performance psychology and coaching. I could have listened to him all day. Below are just a few of my takeaways:
• How can you survive in the jungle if you were raised in the zoo? Practice like you play.
• Do not change, regardless of the situation. Play robotically while being intimately human.
• Play the shot, not the context of the situation.
• What may look like confidence is really competence.
• Underperformance is only a breakdown in focus.
• One cannot reduce stress under pressure, rather tolerate the discomfort and take positive action to get a positive result.
Suzy Whaley was the first female to qualify and compete in a PGA Tour event and the first female president of the PGA of America. She is a firm believer that when you have a breakthrough with your student, you must have them answer the following questions:
• What did you do?
• What did it feel like?
• What do you think you looked like?
Randy Smith is a PGA of America hall of famer and coach to the 2022 Masters winner, Scottie Scheffler. His wealth of knowledge is amazing. Here is what stood out to me:
• The faster the clubface is moving, the more stable it is through impact
• To play at the highest level you need these three characteristics
o Must have the ability to smash the driver
o Must be a surgeon with irons
o Must be able to hook wedges
This summit was an outstanding two days of camaraderie, education, and fun. I could not wait to share a few things I learned and hope you will find them helpful and useful. Personally and professionally speaking, there were so many takeaways that I will be implementing to help me become a better person and coach.
The remarkable thing about seminars such as this is that what I learned does not just apply to Tour players, but to every player—including members and students.
I honestly believe if you are always hungry to learn, continue to grow and surround yourself with individuals that you respect and admire, you will become a better “you” in all facets of your life.
NEVER STOP LEARNING!
Matt Kilgariff is a PGA professional who spent much of his career working for Butch Harmon and the Harmon Family. He is currently the Director of Player Development at The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. Prior to joining The Bridges, Kilgariff was Director of Player Development at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Matt has also been part of TaylorMade’s National Advisory Staff since 2012.