Friday, January 07, 2011

Men technical, women more social golfers says LPGA Coach

To meet golf professionals through social media services takes just a single click, a simple "LIKE" or "FOLLOW" and maybe a note asking, "Will you join my professional network on LinkedIn?"

Golf is considered a "social" sport and I believe that interactions and connections made on services such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn may just help to solve fundamental issues and grow the sport for future generations. I continually search out and invite golfers into my professional networks and find that they do the same.

A connection through LinkedIn is how I met Mary Paulson, LPGA Professional Golf Coach at Total Approach® Coaching, Site Director LPGA-USGA Girls Golf of El Cajon and a firefighter in San Diego. Mary's interest in growing the game of golf for girls, ages 7 to 17, to "build lasting friendships and experience competition in a fun, supportive environment," led me to send her a friendly email. With Mary's okay, here is our "chat":

STACY SOLOMON: Do you find it easier to teach men or women?

MARY PAULSON: Men vs Women. Good question! Honestly, I enjoy working with men more than women, but there is also a difference.

With men, they are more technical and they are willing to do whatever I ask and tend to be very receptive to my instruction. They get alot out of it, they want to talk about what they know and they will tell me what is wrong with their game!  It makes it too easy for me! The downside is that I will only see the male golfers once or twice a year!  They get what they need and then they are good for the golfing season.

With women, they want to learn the game. They don't neccessarily know the technical aspects and I find that I need to teach them more basic terms and techniques. They are there to learn for more social reasons, to spend more time with their husbands or to go out with their lady friends. I will hear back from the women and get more returning lessons.

So, yes, I spend more time teaching women and beginners because they take more lessons! But I really enjoy working with the advanced and professionals, who tend to be more men, because we can get deeper into the skills and they will take it and go apply it.

With that said, it can go in the opposite direction too!  My least favorite students are men who are just learning the game, and my absolute favorites are coaching competitive and professional female players!

The beginner male students have egos. They have been watching the golf channel, reading books, watching professional players on TV and they have a preconceived idea of how to swing a golf club. So I am faced with breaking down their egos before I can get them to make a decent swing.

With my female players, they leave their egos at home. They get it. They know their game, they understand the swing concepts and what their swing is. With them, I am able to get past the technical and get into what I truly do best, and that is the Mental & Emotional game!

Does that answer your question?  <haha!>  Although I am guessing that you weren't expecting a one word answer, were you.

STACY SOLOMON: How many of the same lesson does it take before that lesson "sinks in" and the student "gets it".

MARY PAULSON:  You asked about lessons and learning retension.  It's all relative. How does the teacher communicate with the student? Do they use the students' dominant sensories to learn effectively, or do they just show the student the skill movement and tell them to scrape and hit?

Definitely golfers need to practice a skill over and over, when it's new, for about 4-6 weeks until the muscle memory kicks in. Your brain can get the skill down within hours! But if the motor functions don't know what the skill feels like, it won't be consistent, which is why practicing new motor skills are so important. But once your motors get it.... it all now becomes mental and a whole new learning skill! haha!

Simply, for golf Beginners, you MUST get out to the range and practice the swing between lessons. If you don't practice, then you will be spending money on learning the same thing from your last lesson!  At least they will if I'm their teacher. :))

There are 4 sections of the swing. 1/4  1/2  3/4 & full swing. I will start you with the 1/4 swing. If you are unable to hit the ball consistantly with a 1/4 swing, I will not move on to the 1/2 swing. Why? You haven't mastered the 1/4 yet.  See what I mean?  But if you go out and practice 1/4 swings everyday for 2 weeks, then I have every faith in the world that I can advance you to a 1/2 swing. The larger the swing, the longer it takes to master the movement (more moving parts.)

STACY SOLOMON: I would also like to ask you a few more questions about the LPGA National program and how you became interested in being a teacher.

MARY PAULSON:  Why I had chosen to become an LPGA Golf Coach gets a bit complicated. We all have our own journeys and mine would have to begin when I began to learn how to play golf back in 2001.

It was a spiritual epiphany. I was watching Karrie Webb getting ready to win the U.S. Women's Open for the 2nd year in a row. Nobody was close and the TV announcers were putting trivia on the screen because they were following Karrie live back from the 16th hole. One trivial tidbit was showing where the US Women's Open would be played for the next 7 years. In 2008, it would be at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, MN.  My childhood hometown!!

Instantly I said to myself, "I'm supposed to play in that!"  This was a country club that my family didn't belong to, nor was I ever invited for even a Sunday brunch!  So, when I saw Interlachen CC, I knew that I wanted to play in the most prestigous Amateur/Professional women's golf event!  Ha!  I would not only have brunch there, but play it!

But I didn't play golf yet. In fact I needed clubs, bag, balls, and all the essentials. AND A COACH!  I needed to find someone to show me how to qualify to play in this event in 7 years!

That in itself is a long story. The short end of the story is that my journey to the 2008 U.S. Women's Open sent me to find a support team of the best golf coaches, sports psychologists, spiritualists, trainers, etc., that helped me attain my goal.

What I came to learn during the entire process was that I didn't neccessarily enjoy competing! I really dreaded getting up early and playing in tournaments with the county ladies. Once I was out playing I was fine, but I really didn't have the heart of a competitor. It was okay if I didn't win! In fact, I very rarely tried to win! I just wanted to play my shots the best I could, and what the score was... that's what it was!

But what I LOVED while practicing and playing was showing people how to create shots. I loved watching others play well!  I knew that this journey to the open wasn't about me playying in it; it was about what I would do AFTER 2008. I have the heart of a COACH. That is the spirit of the game for me. 

I did go to the U.S. Women's Open Qualifier and participated as a player. I was able to use that round as:

1) The final lap to my 7 year journey
2) My score qualified me to turn professional and enter the LPGA Teaching & Coaching Division.  I did it!  I had made my goal!

Funny, when I began the golf journey to Interlachen CC in Edina MN for 2008, I was doing it to prove something. I don't know who I was trying to prove anything to, nor do I really know WHAT I was trying to prove. But I dedicated my entire life for 7 years to do it!  But by the end, I was a completely different person with a new future. I was a better person, who was no longer needing to prove anything to anyone, but wanting to impart all of the lessons I learned, and from the best in the world, to those younger that do have the heart of a competitor.

I started playing golf at the age of 37. I turned professional at the age of 44, and when I turn 50 I will retire from the Fire Department as a Engineer Driver operator firefighter and travel full-time with my players and prepare them for their qualifiers and tournaments!

So that is why I chose to become a teacher. I have the heart of a coach, and for me, the spirit of the game is creating shots and showing others how to play their best! If you aren't true to your spirit of the game, will not be successful. You will not be at your peak performance.  So, I am a coach. :))

Oh! And I did go to Interlachen CC for the 2008 U.S. Womens Open, not as a player, but as a coach!  

I was lucky enough to participate in a coaching seminar during the Open with my teachers, Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott. It was wonderful!  They were working with several players in the Tournment and all of us coaches were sent out on to the course to observe 3 players each day, then come back together and discuss what we each observed.

It was wonderful training for me as a coach! No, I never played Interlachen. But the original journey turned out to never be about playing! It was about coaching.

Enjoy your day, and happy 1-putts!


You can contact Mary Paulson, LPGA Coaching Professional at:

Total Approach® Coaching
Site Director, LPGA-USGA Girls Golf of El Cajon
(619) 414-4495
and, of course, through LinkedIn!

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