|Bobby Bowden; Dave and Ron Stockton Lead Busy Opening Day at the 13th PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit|
|The Summit is featuring nearly 30 presenters covering topics including methodology, motivation and exploring the power of the mind.|
ORLANDO – College Football Hall of Famer Bobby Bowden had never spoken before an audience of golf instructors, but the messages the 83-year-old delivered Monday at the 13th PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit could have played in most any locker room in virtually any sport.
"What makes you effective as a coach is whether or not you have the ability to communicate," said Bowden, who began playing golf at age 30, well before entering the prime of his coaching career. "If teachers can't do that, I doubt many would go there."
The PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit, which originated in 1988 and blossomed into the Association's largest educational event, carried the theme of "Where Communication Meets Excellence." The Summit, which concludes Tuesday, is presented by GOLF Magazine and supported by GolfTEC and Hospital for Special Surgery.
This week, it featured nearly 30 presenters, with discussions extending past methodology to cover motivation and exploring the power of the mind.
Bowden, the NCAA record-holder for most career wins and bowl victories by a Division I FBS coach, said any college football coach "doing his job right" could only play golf three months a year. Today, Bowden is a self-confessed golf addict, who plays as often as possible.
"What I like about anyone giving me help in golf is when they can paint me a picture," said Bowden. "If I get that picture, then it helps me."
Bowden's 57-year coaching career was capped by a term at Florida State University (1976 through 2009), where he guided national championships in 1993 and 1999.
"When I was coming up, I never could play golf, never could afford it and it didn't look any fun," says Bowden. "I used to say, ‘What do they get hitting that ball, walking down there, and the ball don't even move and they hit it again? I thought, ‘What fun would that be?' I was coaching at South Georgia College, a nine-month job.
"So, in the summer, my lifeguard stand was surrounded by a golf course. I was 30 years old at the time. Every day, I would watch guys playing and decided to hit balls during lunch. But, I fell in love with it. If I had my life to live over, I would take lessons. The biggest mistake I made was just hitting dozens of balls and picking up the worst habits you could have."
Those uplifting moments in coaching football, said Bowden, are tempered by "knowing how to deal with defeat."
Golf is on par with coaching a team, said Bowden. "You can hit a shot that looks perfect, then dad gum it, it hits a bank and rolls into the sand. That ain't fair! But, golf teaches you so much, and the ups and down is just like life."
Bowden enjoyed his best day on a course in 1980 in Melbourne, Fla. "I needed pars on the final two holes to finished even par," says Bowden. "I had never shot par before. I birdied the last two holes for a 70. I hit the ball better back then. Today, I'm hitting it 190, but it goes straight."
Former U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Dave Stockton and youngest son, Ron, shared some "Secrets to the Short Game." Ron founded Stockton Golf in 2009, coordinating a remarkable threesome of his father, a two-time PGA Champion, and older brother, Dave Jr.
It could be golf's answer to the Mayo Clinic, with three sets of eyes prescribing what ails the golf student.
"We are fortunate to have all members of the family provide the same input," said Ron Stockton. "The nature of our business is that we cannot be in three different places at once. Having been taught from the same source, my father, I think that we are able to teach everyone in a unique fashion.
"How we follow up what every player needs is the challenge. There's always a rush to find the tangibles to fix something for a player, when it really is about getting people to think. The brain has to tell the muscles how to fire. If the brain misfires, it's obvious that everything completely goes awry."
Stockton Golf lists World No. 1-ranked Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Yani Tseng, Annika Sorenstam and Adam Scott among its list of clients.
The combined knowledge of Dave Sr., Ron, and Dave Jr. has created an enterprise unmatched in its ability to provide immediate short game success. Stockton Golf's recent domination in the instruction arena is the evolution of 70-plus years; after all, this teaching powerhouse has been honing its approach over three generations of Stocktons. Since 2009, the group has contributed to more than 60 Tour wins across the globe and has fully engaged the golf world through books, magazines, DVDs, television, and the Internet.
"Sixty-five years ago, I used a 3-wood, 6-iron and putter and went out and made my path in golf," said Dave Stockton. "The lessons I learned, I never had to repeat." That training and mindset, Stockton said, helped lead him and his sons to two books, "Unconscious Putting" and "Unconscious Scoring."
"It led to a revelation," said Ron Stockton. "All three of us were working with players and we had the same dramatic effect. They knew the mechanics, but didn't know the why."
Ron Stockton outlined four stages to learning: Blissful Ignorance, Conscious Incompetence, Conscious Competence and Unconscious Competence."
"I've always been a believer in feel when it comes to putting and the short game," said Dave Stockton. "When Annika came for a lesson she spent a lot of time with practice strokes. Once she was free of that, she could much better picture the putting line. She went on to win 17 events over the next couple years."
The Summit closed its opening day with an emotional tribute to PGA teaching legend Jim Flick, who passed away last November due to cancer. Past PGA Teachers of the Year Martin Hall of West Palm Beach, Fla., and Mike Malaska of Mesa, Ariz., remained close to Flick up to his passing.
GOLF Magazine inducted 18 individuals into its "Top 100 Teachers in America" roster, which originated in 1996 and includes 92 men and eight women, with 33 original inductees among the active teachers in the country.