Golf and Life Lessons..

As many of you know (those that have been reading our practice tips for a few years ++) I sometimes write to “vent” a little about what is affecting myself and the Graves Golf Academy (GGA).

I have always felt those that are involved/interested in Moe’s single plane golf swing and the GGA are like a big family united by a unique way to swing the golf club (albeit the most efficient and effective way, but seen as “unique” by many).

So, if you are reading this practice tip for 100% “hard core” instruction, you might want to review the past 250+ practice tips we have written…  as this one is going to be more about my values, beliefs and philosophy of teaching and as the co-owner of the GGA, about our beliefs as a company and teaching, etc.

I (Tim) actually started golfing when I was 11 years old. When I was 12, my parents got me a “job” at the local golf course where I was a junior helper. I worked a few hours a week (cleanings, sweeping, putting grips on clubs, helping the pros in the shop, etc..) in return for free golf, free range balls and in general – guidance from the club pros. It was absolutely the greatest “job” a young golfer could have. I was around the game as much as I wanted and was being mentored by male and female PGA professionals. There is no question, this combined with my parents and religion, became my core beliefs for my family and business.

At first, it seemed these values and beliefs were things I would only use on the golf course. As I turned professional and started to tour across the country, there was a 1,000 times these beliefs and values were put to the test….  Now as a teaching professional for the past 13 years, with my brother and teaching staff, I see how these values and beliefs affect the way we teach and the way we run our business.

Many of you are probably wondering where this practice tip is “coming from”.  What the heck happened to get him “going again…” Hopefully you are still reading and haven’t decided to opt out of our newsletters yet (LOL. )..

So here goes….

Many of you that have attended our schools or have read some of the past practice tips, know that my life basically consists of teaching golf, playing a few tournaments (when I have time) and spending time with my family. This time of year, that time with my family basically revolves around one thing… Little League Baseball… My son, now 15, has played Little League Baseball since he was 6 years old.  Like most kids, he played all sports and was pretty good at all of them, but in the past few years, everything has changed for him. it is now all about baseball. (It doesn’t hurt that he is a left handed pitcher…. and yes, from a “bragging” dad – a VERY good left handed pitcher.)

Now, before you ask, yes he does play a little golf, but to be honest, he really never got the “bug” to play (or hasn’t yet.) and I am not one to push anyone, no matter what age, to play golf. If you don’t have a passion for the game, you will not enjoy the game…. I have seen WAY TOO MANY parents push their young kids into the game whether they want to play or not… trying to create a bunch of little Tigers… if the child isn’t drawn to the sport on their own, they will have no fun and it becomes “work” for them… think it is “fun” being a parent of a child who doesn’t want to play the sport – try being the instructor of a child who doesn’t really want to play the sport… Anyway, my son told me a couple of years ago that golf was “too slow and too boring for him…” and too be honest I really didn’t have a problem with that as it is a great get away for me to be around his baseball and not the golf course all the time. If he ever decides to play golf – great, but that is his own decision and I bet he will be able to find a couple of guys who can instruct him a little…..

My son plays on a traveling baseball team that has been extremely successful the past few years. In fact, they have won a USSSA Little League World Series the past two years, my son being the starting left handed pitcher on the team. He has worked very hard and the team works very hard for their success, obviously myself and the other parents are very proud of their accomplishments.

This year was setting up to be the same – they had qualified for the World Series in Dallas, TX, the difference being this would be their last as they are about to enter into high school baseball.

I am not the head coach of the team, but one of a couple of dads that assist the head coach. To be honest, I do not feel I know enough about baseball to help these young men, but I can throw in my “two cents” about mental and physical training at times.

Two weeks before we were to go to Dallas, the head coach asked myself and another dad to take over the team and get them ready for the World Series as he had other issues going on and felt it would be better if we ran the team for the remainder of the season and tournament. Obviously, we didn’t want to let the boys down, so we gladly accepted and worked on getting the team ready.

So we held practices, and to be honest, in those practices I saw myself talking too and treating those young men as we do many of our students at our schools.

I believe when you are practicing/working to improve:

  1. You need to enjoy the process. If you do not, you will not improve. No one can “make you” enjoy the process, you must enjoy from within. This is up to you…
  2. You need to understand making changes is tough and takes time – it will not and can not come over night. Anyone that thinks changes occur overnight have never made a change that has become a habit.
  3. If you are getting frustrated, upset, or mad for whatever reason, you need to “walk away” ….  Do not let the frustration take over – walk away for a while (may be a minute, an hour, whatever works for you). Enough time to compose yourself and start again.  NO ONE makes positive changes when they are mad or in anger…

So, we began our practices to get ready to travel to Dallas. They went well, young men working hard together, getting better, working toward a goal (and that goal was not winning, but rather to play their best and let the cards fall where they may.), playing like good Christian young men, and it seemed all the young men were having a good time and getting ready to roll…. until the last practice (the day before we were scheduled to leave for Dallas).

On the last day of practice, one of the young men, decided it was okay (after striking out) to throw his helmet, through his bat, kick his equipment and generally “disrespect” himself and the rest of the team.

So, I intervened, as I believe any coach of young men would do. Yes, I did raise my voice, but more to get his attention and that of the other young men on the team, not in anger, but rather disappointment… that he had worked so hard and for too long and was WAY TOO GOOD a player to let one “strike out” affect him so much… and worse, his teammates.

I see this often in golfers working on their games – they do not look at the big picture but rather the moment. They become upset with themselves because they miss a single shot, or have a bad practice session, or a bad round of golf. They are not looking at the “process” or big picture on what they are working toward, but rather the moment they are in.  If they would just look at the “big picture” they would understand and be “much easier” on themselves and give themselves a break… (Making changes is not easy, this game is not easy. but believe it or not, it can be a lot of fun to make changes and if you are not so hard on yourself, the changes won’t be so difficult to make).

Back to the young man on the team.  (FYI – he is a starter, he is a very good player with amazing talent.) He went home after practice very upset.  Upset at his coaches, upset at his team, upset in general (let’s be honest, he was upset with himself, but is too young to understand that…) He confronted his mother with his issues. And as a “good mom” would do, she completely blew up and basically (as some others now have said) “lost her mind”.  (I assume you all understand when I say “good mom” …). As this was the night before we were about to leave, there was little to no time for anyone else to intervene in the situation… and I can only assume it got “bigger and bigger and bigger” as the night went on….

Well, we left for the tournament the next morning. Hauling the young men down to Texas, setting up to be a great week at the Little League World Series… skills competitions, going to Texas Rangers game, and playing some of the best teams in the country. We were looking forward to a great time spent with the team and families for the week (or so I thought..)

We got to Dallas in time for the skills competition and check in (side note here… my wife, the most beautiful person in the world, worked her back end off setting all this up… it was amazing how organized everything was… I can absolutely guarantee without her we would have been completely lost…). We were having a great time… and then it started.

Early that evening I received a message from the “head coach” saying he was coming down to “take his team back”. He had talked to one of the parents (we know who) and he was very upset with what was going on. He was coming down the next morning and was “taking back his team”. I discussed with the other assistant coach and we made the decision I would be more than happy to take a back seat and let the head coach come back and run the team. In fact, I was actually looking forward to sitting in the stands and being a dad for a change…

Then it hit… and too be honest, it is actually still hard to believe this happened….  as it is something you read about and see on the news…. I started to receive threats.  As I was walking back from dinner with my wife and friends, I was shown posts on social media that were threatening myself, the other coaches and potentially our families. And folks… one threat that was bad enough that I had it filed with the local police department to keep on record.

Wow … Little League Baseball turned into a nightmare….  now I was in the absolute worst situation I could imagine. I was stuck between a wife who was in tears because of everything going on, a son who wants to finish out his Little League baseball at the World Series with his friends and a crazy person who is on her way down and things “are not going to end pretty” … I’ll be honest, prayer ensued…. I sat during a fireworks display and don’t remember one second of the fireworks, but rather prayed for guidance… what to do….?

After prayer, talk with my family and the other assistant coach (and his family) we decided it was best for my family to “walk away”. There was no way the outcome was going to be a positive.  I had a long talk with my son and tried to explain to him, no matter what happens, if we are confronted and anyone threatens harm to my family or friends, I am not worried about myself, but rather what I might do….  and there is no way I was going to put those I love in that situation.

We left (checked out of the hotel now well after midnight and headed home). We “walked away” from the situation. A situation that could not and would not have had a positive outcome. No matter how much it “hurt” to leave, I believe it was the absolute right thing to do.

Side note # 1 – The other assistant coach (a very good man and great family) left the next morning after his son told him he was ready to go….

Positive note # 1 – My son and I have not talked this much in the last 2 years. Was amazing how much he opened up to me and his mom and is still talking….

Positive note # 2 – Life Lessons…. I am not sure my son and family have ever had more “life lessons” learned over such a short period of time…

  1. Ghandi once wrote:

“Your beliefs are your thoughts,

Your thoughts are your words,

Your words become your actions,

Your actions become your habits,

Your habits become your values,

Your values become your destiny.”

Again, sorry to “bore” all those who come here for that “hard core” instruction… sometimes we just like to “vent” and hopefully for those new to the GGA you will understand we are more than just about golf…. we pride ourselves on our beliefs.

I promise in the next practice tip/newsletter, we’ll be back to 100% instruction (or at least until we need to “vent” again…)

Remember – Always practice with a purpose.

Remember – A little improvement every day leads to a lot of improvement over time!

From One of the Strangest, and Most Controversial Chapters of Golf’s History Book Comes the Story of The Man Who Developed a Revolutionary Way of Swinging a Golf Club!

[ Order your copy of: The Feeling of Greatness: The Moe Norman Story ]

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