In the game of football, there are three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams. As I approach my 4th fall here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, I know full well this is the “Season of 12”. (I know not all of our PNWPGA members and apprentices are Seahawks fans, so if you’re not a 12th man kinda person, just insert your own team as you see fit.) Here are the three phases of the game, as they apply to YOU.

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT (Defense)

  1. Rest, recuperation: It’s been a very long 2015 golf season. Dan Harrington, PGA from The Home Course said he believes it’s the “best summer we’ve had in 29 years”. Hopefully, that has been a great thing for the bottom line of the facility/club where you’re employed, but there’s no doubt it has taken a toll. Don’t minimize the effect and try to tough it out. There are no medals for taking the least amount of PTO. While resting and recouping, play some golf just for fun. Play like a recreational golfer. This is the season of strategically resting, refueling and rebuilding.
  2. Family, friends and peers relational development: After this long season, I can imagine how many of you are feeling after working hard since mid-February. In the six years before I started my current role for the PGA, I routinely worked 200+ hours a month. As you might imagine, that took a toll on my wife, my kids and our family dynamic. They put up with a lot and I really didn’t understand how much they were sacrificing. Thankfully, their love and loyalty for me led them to stick it out with me. If I were in that situation again I believe I would be more intentional in my efforts to defend my marriage and my relationships with my kids. These days, in my role with the PGA, I can be more intentional in this way and the return on the investment is amazing. This is the season of investing back in these key relationships that are the backbone of your strength as a professional. Note: Aside from your personal life, this long season is likely to have taken a toll on your peer to peer relationships at your workplace. A bit of rebuilding, reinvesting in this area could go a long way as well.
  3. Personal development: Speaking of key relationships, making extra effort to improve your listening skills and “doing the little things” will pay huge dividends in both the short and long term. This means choosing to act intentionally in ways to express your love, loyalty and gratitude to those whom you value most. Just focus on your spouse (once they get over the shock of it, well, that’s what happened in my case) and watch how your marriage grows and changes for the better. This is the season of showing intentionality in your personal development and in defending your most precious relationships.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT (Special Teams)

  1. Review, Reevaluate and Rebuild: Just like Pete Carroll, Chip Kelly or any great football coach you admire, this is the season to distinguish where you can grow and where you have grown.  As this 2015 season comes to a close, the strengths you have shown, developed and honed should be fresh in your mind. Spend 20 minutes celebrating the ways you have grown as a golf professional this year, then think about how you can leverage them even more for the 2016 season. Spend 10 minutes on identifying some of the areas you consider a weakness. Choose the ONE area of weakness that made the most difference and commit to making it stronger.
    1. Why only half the time on the weaknesses? We all have weaknesses, and frankly, we spend way too much time on them. Those are the flaws and foibles we notice most when we look in the mirror. If you and your “Coach Carroll” work on one of these areas, you WILL see rewards.
  2. Get in the Film Room, or Get More Plays in Your Playbook: This fall, our Section and Chapters will be presenting some some valuable opportunities in terms of professional development and education. One special event will take place on October 24-25 (the weekend preceding our Merchandise Show) the PGA of America will present a Youth and Family Golf Workshop in Tacoma, WA.  This two-day workshop will feature a combination of National and Section experts to help you expand your Player Development Skills in this lucrative (and expanding) area of youth and family golf.  Perhaps as valuable as the information that is shared, will be the opportunity to spend time with these leaders, where mutual growth and inspiration can happen. Keep an eye out for the event flyer and registration, coming soon.
  3. Who can you learn from this year? Don’t have a “Coach Carroll” in your professional life? No one is fitted to be able to handle any situation, any crisis or take advantage of any opportunity completely on their own. Seriously? That kind of thinking is for “17 year olds who know so much, they’re unable to see they don’t know anything”. This is the season to get a mentor.
  4. Who can you mentor this year? Remember, a mentor is truly a “more learned learner”. Recently, I heard some of our more seasoned golf professionals talking about how the “younger golf pros” haven’t sought them out for advice on how to be better teachers or ask them for help at all. Sometimes it’s necessary to take the first step…don’t leave it up to the younger guys or gals.
    1. In my experience as a young pro, I reached out to professionals I thought could mentor me as a teacher, a merchandiser and more. More often than not, these mentors helped me far beyond what I had hoped they could. But, some of my most valuable mentoring came from seasoned pros who asked me if they could share some know-how without me asking first. I recall asking one of them why, and his answer really helped me. He said, “I see some real potential in you as a golf professional.”
    2. You may be 29 years old with two years under your belt as a head professional, but you can mentor the younger pro who just got their first HP role. Or you could help that another who’s looking to make the jump from assistant to the head pro role. Here’s an added benefit, either way, you’re going to benefit from the process too. Undoubtedly, they will “mentor up” to you and help you realize you can grow, learn or be more nimble in some area of your professional life. This is the season of mentoring someone else.
    3. You may be in your mid-40s, 50s or 60s and have 25+ years under your belt as a PGA golf professional. If you’re in this stage, please don’t wait for the young professional to reach out to you. Go, find one with potential. Experience the mutual benefit of investing in them. They’ll benefit from your wisdom and they might help you realize you’ve got a lot left to give, a lot left in the tank and who knows? Maybe you’ll find some new direction that will help you finish your “career race” in a sprint rather than a crawl. Take Coach Carroll for example. He’s in his mid-60s, yet he has the energy of guy in his late 30s. Why? I believe it’s because he’s continually investing himself into younger people and into the process, he is re-energized and refueled. Coaching football just happens to be the format where he does it. Let’s say it again: this is the season of mentoring someone else.

OPERATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (Offense)

There is so much to talk about in this area, so for now, let’s save this phase of our game for the October 2015 issue of Foreword Press. If you feel like working on the offense phase of your game sooner than next month, or just want to talk about one of the other phases in this article, I hope you’ll reach out to me so I can have the special opportunity to mutually benefit from working with you in some way.

Monte Koch, Certified PGA Professional/Player Development
Player Development Regional Mgr/Mentor**
PGA of America (Greater Seattle/PacNW PGA Section)
Email: Mkoch@pgahq.com  Cell: 206/335-5260