Perspective: by Jerry Pyle
Despised Golf Coaches
It was a pretty good week for Cobber sports. The football team was impressive in a win over Gustavus. The women's golf team won two big tournaments. And virtually all Cobber coaches experienced the exhilarating thrill of competition.
Except me, the men's golf coach.
Coaches will tell you of the adrenaline rush they feel when faced with a strategic decision, knowing the contest may hang in the balance. They'll tell you of the fulfillment that comes from seeing their lessons take root in the minds of young athletes. Most say they love it.
Trust me, none of this applies to men's golf coaches. Golf coaches are, in general, a despised group. There are two main sources for this animosity. First, there's the players.
Second, there's everyone else.
For instance, when you tell co-workers you have to miss a day of work on campus because you have to take your golf team to play at the Minneapolis Country Club, sympathy is not their first reaction. Reaction from home to missing a Saturday cleaning storm gutters is comparable.
Part of this resentment stems from a broad suspicion that coaches also play golf at college golf tournaments. The other part is a nagging hunch that golf coaches can't really do any coaching anyway. Both suspicions are well founded.
Men's golf coaches do have a defense to these charges and are sincerely concerned about our lowly status in the coaching profession. When we get together at tournaments, we often work at how to best phrase that defense, usually right after we've finished our round of golf.
Like most coaches, we blame our athletes first.
(A word on the distinction between the plight of men's golf coaches and the more-respected women's golf coaches. Women, in general, listen and want to learn. Men, in contrast, occupy the vast majority of our nation's prison cells.)
All men's golf coaches have attempted coaching their players.
Here are my favorite examples. All were with recent all-MIAC Cobber golfers.
On Opening Tryouts for Team:
Coach: Could you explain that again?
Player: Look, I work on weekends so I can't go to any of the meets. But I'd like to be on the team and go to practice. Can you put me on the list to play for free at Moorhead Country Club?
On Importance of Off-Season Tournament Play: Coach: Did you get a chance to play in many tournaments this summer on different courses?
Player: No, but I got third in my club event.
On Off-Season Conditioning:
Coach: Getting your legs in shape will help your game, especially over those final holes.
Player: Coach, you don't understand. We're not athletes. We're artists. Besides, I've tried running and I've tried just sitting in front of the TV and eating chips. Between the two, there is definitely more pain connected with running. That makes my decision pretty easy.
On Coach walking along with player on course:
Player: You're not going to watch me, are you?
On Distance off the tee: Coach (to player who has just turned in a very high score, largely attributable to not hitting a single fairway): Maybe you should try your 3-wood off the tee, you hit that much straighter.
Player: Coach, all the other guys in my group were hitting driver. I'd look like a wimp?
On The Importance of Smart Play:
Coach (to a player who just took five shots to get out of the trees): Maybe you should have just chipped out.
Player: I thought about that, but I thought I could get that three iron up and over the trees and then hook it. Besides, I had just taken a triple and I wanted to get one back.
On Club Selection:
Coach: Maybe you shouldn't have tried to hit that 9-iron 192 yards over water.
Player: Coach, that was the right club. I just missed it a little. The NDSU guy hit a wedge.
Coach (upon walking over to the 9th green and seeing player 4-putt): Most of these greens break toward the lake.
Player: I was putting great 'til you showed up.
Coach: What'd you shoot on the front?
On Going for Green in 2 on Par 5's
Coach: The par fives here are well-guarded. Just lay up and you'll still get a birdie opportunity with good sand wedge in.
Player: I don't really have a good club to lay up with coach. You know, I hit my 9-iron about 190 yards. Besides, I've been practicing hitting my driver out of the rough.
On Assessing a Round:
Coach: What was the trouble out there today?
Player: I hate this course coach. I like my home course. You don't have to think so much.
On Getting Them to Tell You Their Score:
Coach: What'd you shoot?
Player: I hit the ball really well, but some of the tees are aligned wrong and that hurt me. And the greens were a little firm compared to home. And the ball I was using flew a little high for these wind conditions, and my wedge just died on me. It's usually my best club.
Coach: What'd you shoot?
Player: I had it going for a while on the front. You know that long par 5? I got there in 2, but that trap got me. Took an 8. I need new clubs. And the guys I played with were really distracting. They were so bad.
Coach: What'd you shoot?
Player: OK, I shot a 96. But I'd play a lot better if you'd stop talking to me about golf.
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