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A Reimagined Approach

Greetings Golfers,


So the other day, I got an email from the MN PGA with the subject line: PGA COACH - “A Reimagined Approach for the Game’s Best Coaches”. 

Hmmmmm … what does that mean? So I took a look … and it’s an interview with Mike Barge. Probably most of you know that Mike is the long time golf instructor at Hazeltiine Nat GC … and I always want to know Mike’s thoughts about the golf swing - he gets it. 

You’ll see what I mean … here’s Mike’s answer to their question: 

What has PGA COACH done for you?

Mike: “Well, I think the biggest thing is that it has helped me reinforce a couple things that I’ve always felt about juniors regarding the dangers of burnout starting at an early age and not playing a bunch of different sports. Obviously, the rest and recovery period is so important. We have a member here ( Hazeltine ) who is an orthopedic surgeon and he’s said he’s done Tommy John surgery on a 15 year old kid. It comes from the overuse and training as if they were a professional athlete.”

Mike continues: “It has reinforced all of that stuff they’ve found in surveys and studies that it’s a very dangerous thing and if they start too early and they’re not playing other sports, it can be troublesome for them. And the other thing too is that with our junior program here, we’ve started with kids 8, 9, 10 years old and the importance of them having played different sports and that hand-eye coordination. I was tossing balls to them maybe 10-15 feet away and half of them couldn’t catch the golf ball. It’s all about the importance of them running, catching, throwing, jumping, skipping - those type of skills at an early age are by far the most important things to learn and keep their interest up and then as they get a little bit older you can start to develop some better skills with them.”

Wow! How good was that? Don’t worry … I asked Mike if I could use it … he blessed it … and wants to know the reaction.

When I was a kid … we played neighborhood sports every day - mostly football, baseball, and hockey.

For the love of it.

Not only did we develop a variety of athletic skills … we developed organizational skills. Parents weren’t involved. We shoveled ponds … built hockey goals … turned backyards into football and baseball fields … picked teams … made-up our own rules … and dealt with disputes on our own.

And loved it. We came back everyday. We had fights and “grudge matches”. But they got settled … and we came back the next day.

I have no problem with specialists. In anything. But, people need to be well-rounded.

Colleges used to want well-rounded students. Then, they decided that they should have a “well-rounded” college made up of specialists rather than well-rounded students.

Sounds good. But … is it really? Is it good for the specialist? If your college is made-up of unbalanced people … is that a good thing?

Our society is overwhelmed with Xanax and other drugs to deal with life.

Do you think there’s a correlation between this intense focus on specialization instead of balance … and a society made up of people stressed-out.

Shouldn’t sports be games to help with stress? A chance to relax and play a game … for the joy of it?

When I see people at DRGC … I tell them to enjoy it.

Joy - enjoy. 

I think what is best for society is a population of well-balanced people. 

The powers-that-be might want a bunch of crazy specialists … they know that they can always find a new one … when the old one crashes and burns.

Good for Mike Barge. People have to say what needs to be said. Especially highly respected people such as Mike.

PGA COACH - “A Reimagined Approach for the Game’s Best Coaches” - sounds like they get it. Let’s hope it spreads beyond golf.



Tom Abts
GM/Head PGA Professional
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Deer Run Golf Club
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Victoria, MN 55386
(952) 443-2351

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