By Matt Stansfield
When Tom Lehman hoisted the 2012 Charles Schwab Cup Championship trophy becoming the first back-to-back winner of the season long points race. He did so with a heavy heart as his longtime swing coach, Jim Flick was losing his battle with pancreatic cancer; he held on long enough to see Lehman follow through on Flick’s last piece of advice, “Be Tom Lehman” before losing his battle on Monday.
It was a relationship that Flick and Lehman shared for 12 years and one Tom Lehman commented on during an interview on the Golf Channel, “He always said, Remember who you are. Remember how good you are. I believe in you so go believe in yourself.” It’s a testament to the relationship shared not only between coach and student but what appears to also be two great friends that made an impact in each other’s lives off the golf course as well.
Yes, coaches may come and go but when you find that coach that clicks like it did for both Tom Lehman and Jack Nicklaus, it’s a relationship that has the opportunity to stand the test of time; Without having a coach that believes in you and believes in your abilities, how can you the student share in that belief and listen to coaches teaching methodology.
In Flick’s case, he put the emphasis on learning to use the club first and then training the body to be supportive of what you want the club to do instead of focusing on how the body moves and hoping the club will show up at the right place and hit the right shot. It’s a teaching methodology that’s hard to argue with when coupled with a belief in the student and a belief in their abilities; It sure worked for Jack Nickalus and Tom Lehman.
Look at Tiger Woods and the three different methodologies he’s followed going from Butch Harmon to Hank Haney and now to Sean Foley. If you can develop a relationship with your coach that is based upon believing in yourself and your abilities, allow yourself to adapt to a teaching methodology because the coach isn’t seeing you as just another Lesson on the books; you’re being seen as someone who’s sought out their help and has made a commitment regardless of if that commitments been made to chase your dream and take your game to the next level or you’re just getting into golf.