With the PGA European Tour School final stage just days away from starting, many of Europe's Tournament Golfers will be contemplating whether its been a season that has progressed them on their journey to the top or will be looking at a different scenario for next season!
Normally at this time of year I push out a blog which has my thoughts on how an aspiring Tour player can reach the heady heights and big pay days of the European Tour. For those of you interested here is a link to that download that article.
This time however I'm going to give my thoughts on how and why I believe players get to their goal status and then allow circumstances to change and subsequently lose form.
Of course some of these players recover and stay at the top, some push on and reach even greater heights but unfortunately some disappear from the the tour and others rather sadly... out of the game completely.
From my observations and experiences I have created a timeline of development with the performance indicator being world rankings. Obviously the development time and the value of those world rankings could vary considerably from player to player,
the graphic below is only for illustrative purposes.
So you can see the timeline is over a 10 year period which is not unrealistic considering the amount of development most players need. The early years, the tough ones as I call them are often littered with not much to show for their efforts except a huge amount of belief.
This is normally followed with what I refer to as "the inspired years"
This is a sustained period where the player finds his tools for development. Every player will be slightly different and have a different process. I love this period as a coach.
Normally throughout this period the player will form a support network of family, coach, physio, psychologist, manager and mentors. Not to mention achieving a balance of family and tour life.
I have the upmost respect for players and teams that manage this phase successfully as it takes 110% commitment from everyone.
In addition the player will be starting to understand both technically and tactically what works and what doesn't, but the key thing is that results are on the up!
When results are on the up the passion is driven, the intensity towards development is high and the momentum can be infectious and a fantastic environment. Yes it's not a continual line of improvement from week to week but year on year a player can feel success is coming.
While early in this stage there are still very few financial rewards, the player is almost hell bent on achieving their goal regardless and it can be energising for players despite the hardship and undoubted sacrifice that often surrounds their life.
For the players that can keep going and have most things in place that I detailed in my article 'How to get on the European Tour' and a spot of good luck, they are about to realise their dream and arrive at their goal and maybe their comfort level.
Now, that goal may be different for everyone? For some maybe an ambition to just play on Tour, for others to win and for some to be number one in order of merit. The one thing I know is they thoroughly deserve this, very few golfers get there and the effort is immense!
There is one thing to mention for sure - if a player reaches their ultimate goal, they are certain to have created a successful eco-system around themselves for the development of their game!
This should not be underestimated by a player and they should think very carefully before disturbing the equilibrium of this environment. This is why I call it the Danger Zone!
Over the years I have been surprised to have seen or heard stories of players believing they need to do different things now they are successful. I've seen managers, advisors and coaches want to change the process and I've seen decisions made on non-golf issues that start to impact on the playing side.
Now please don't get me wrong I would want my players to get better and live better lives so change is necessary. The change however in my opinion should follow the same process and in the same environment as through the successful years.
Of course there are circumstances that change, usually financial rewards have now started and with that some bizarrely different pressures! Young families arrive, more off-course corporate duties etc etc. Now I know these are not easy to deal with because they may be a departure from the previous years?
But you mess with that eco-system at your peril!
So why am I worried about the Danger Zone?
Well I've observed that in this area lots of little changes start to occur in the players eco-system. Maybe none are that big a deal on their own but often the cumulative effect can start to have an adverse effect on results!
Often as the results either plateau or tail off slightly, a player can lose confidence, become frustrated or anxious.
This is the exact danger moment. Some players move-on, get back to doing what they were doing and no problem. Often though, the player feels the need to change and make some big decisions.
Now of course this is where we coaches, caddies, managers and mentors often get the sack . Yes sometimes this is the right decision for a multitude of reasons but on many occasions I have seen a player or his team making a knee-jerk reaction which then really does upset the balance of that eco-system.
It doesn't have to be personnel that change either, I've seen big changes in family behaviour, lifestyle, friendships all manner of things. These things are reactions normally to the small blips that weren't addressed in the danger zone and have now escalated into something that's appears large but is maybe out of context?
So the BIG decisions generally can only go two ways?
Sometimes they do work. Golf is littered with people that were good, then made big changes and then became great!
Equally they can be disastrous, world rankings can plummet and its a long way back from a place they may have been a few years ago having now tasted the highlife!
I guess my advice to any player in this situation would be as follows:-
- Find your own eco-system and know what it is
- Monitor any small changes
- Make the big decisions slowly and wisely
From my point of view I will continue to inspire people to chase their dreams and climb those rankings, always pointing out the journey is not necessarily any easier when you get there, but it's certainly better than the journey back!
If you want any advice on your golf please give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org