The Holtz challenge

Hall of Fame football coach Lou Holtz made his first visit to the PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit Monday afternoon. Holtz took an impromptu golf lesson before giving those on hand a lesson of his own.


Lou Holtz during the 12th PGA Teaching and Coaching Summit held at the Faldo Golf Institute by Marriott in Orlando, Fla. (Pritchard/PGA of America)

By Bob Denney, PGA of America

ORLANDO, Fla. –- Lou Holtz made his first visit to a PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit Monday afternoon, taking an impromptu golf lesson before more than 550 PGA teaching professionals from around the world. Once Holtz had shed the golf club, the grounds became his lesson tee.

"Congratulations on the profession you have chosen," said Holtz. "There are those who have chosen a profession and made a lot of money. When they died, it all ended. When you chose to be a teacher, you picked a profession in which you have a chance to be significant. You help others to be successful, and that lasts a lifetime.

"The bespectacled 74-year-old and fit Orlando resident enters his seventh season this fall with ESPN as a college football analyst. He also is beginning his 39th season playing golf. Holtz first picked up the game in 1972 while in his first season as head coach at North Carolina State University.

"I was expected to play golf with the donors to the athletic program and I found I could hit the ball, and when I hit it solid, it felt so good," said Holtz. "I liked the competitiveness of it and it made me a golf fanatic."

Holtz's Summit address, "The Importance Beyond the Coach," was a collection of trademark vignettes spanning his coaching career and blending his love of golf and teaching. Though he carries a 17 handicap, Holtz looks at ease with a golf club in his hands and has recorded seven holes-in-one, including one on Augusta National Golf Club's par-3 course.

"It is the best game going," said Holtz, looking out upon Faldo Golf Institute's property. "It is built on sportsmanship, challenges, care for the environment and fellowship."

Holtz joked that he is "the only person alive on a golf range who has two balls in the air at the same time." "When I see a thousand golf balls lying out there on the range, it represents 1,000 different swing thoughts," he said."Golf instructors facing a new student, Holtz said, are not unlike a football coach sitting down to meet a new recruit on campus.

"One of the aspects of coaching is that you have to be realistic in expectations," said Holtz. "The principle of WIN (What Is Important) now. We all have a role – we teach, instruct and point out. You also ask how I develop a meaningful relationship with people."There are three core values, Holtz said, that he follows, and has preached to his football teams and to his children.

"One, do the right thing – be honest, loyal and you can't be bitter," he said. "Two, do everything to the best of your ability; and 3) Show other people that you genuinely care."

Holtz said that any instructor, any coach, needs has to build relationships with a student.

"You have to build trust; seek total commitment and care about each other," said Holtz. "Those are the same three things that keep a marriage going as well. My wife and I will have been married 50 years this summer. You have to have those core values or a relationship will fall apart."

Holtz received a rousing standing ovation following his address, and the attention was not lost on the coach. "Now, that was a good audience," he said, as he rode off in a golf cart. "I was so honored to have been with them. They are so important to a game I love."


Charlie King said that he had his epiphany in golf instruction at age 23, when just six months before he turned professional, an instructor insisted that King follow a model swing rather than adjust to "essential skills." The model? A mix of swing methods by leading teachers and the image of Ben Hogan.

"I listened to what he tried to have me do, and I ended up hitting the worse golf shot I could remember," said King, a PGA Director of Instruction at Reynolds Golf Academy in Greensboro, Ga. "I also heard it later from friends that it was the worse swing that they've ever seen.

"The teacher heard that and asked me, 'Charlie, I don't teach quitters.' Well, that experience had an effect on me. It put me on a mission, because I felt that if it didn't feel right for me, we must not be doing something right."

As a result, King went on to become one of GOLF Magazine's Top 100 instructors, and is the founder and CEO of UnCommon Golf. He addresses more than 550 at Monday's opening of the 12th PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit at Faldo Golf Institute by Marriott."

King outlined his mission by listing "New Rules vs. Old Rules," which harkened back to that infamous golf lesson. 

"Today, we need to prioritize the essential skills of a person vs. attempting to have them fit a model or method," said King.

King outlined nine categories that supported his claim: Full Swing, Short Game, Mental, Practice, Fitness/Limitations, Video, Equipment, Approach and Communication.

"The [World Golf] Hall of Fame is not full of people who look the same," said King. "It is full of unique golf swings. I want my players to be unique, to be the most skillful that they can be."

King pointed to three premier Tour professionals – Jim Furyk, Lee Trevino and Raymond Floyd- whose golf swings do not follow a model, but are unique and employ "essential skills."

"Can't you see the skills that they have?" asked King. "They have been tremendously successful because they have used their essential skills to achieve success."

King then mentioned former PGA Champion Steve Elkington, whose golf swing is considered one of the most admired in the game.

"Steve's personality dictates why he swings like that," said King. "I think that we should all consider we don't make your students look like a golfer, but teach them the skills of a golfer."


DR. David Cook is one of the country's top Peak Performance coaches and seminar leaders, is excited about a project that he says has turned around Hollywood's ability to tell a golf story.

"I think that PGA Professionals will be pleased when they see how authentic the film has portrayed golf," said Cook, who is promoting "Seven Days in Utopia," which will be released in August during PGA Championship week (Aug. 8-14), when the Season's Final Major is contested at Atlanta Athletic Club in John Creek, Ga."The film is based on Cooks' novel, Golf's Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia"

"It is like a dream come true, and what makes me proud is that the producers wanted to make the film authentic," said Cook. "We got tremendous support from the Southern Texas PGA Section, and tour professionals Rich Beem and K.J. Choi were also very good in their roles."

Cook, who has served as a Mental Training Coach for the San Antonio Spurs from 1996-2004, that included two World Championships, and the Washington Wizards (2005). Golf Digest named him one of the "Top 10 Mental Game Experts" in the world of golf. As past president of the National Sport Psychology Academy, he is known as a leading authority in the science of Peak Performance. He has coached performers from the PGA (over 100 players), NBA (two NBA MVP's, David Robinson and Tim Duncan), NFL, MLB, Olympics, and collegiate national championship ranks. He is president of his Texas-based Peak Performance firm that bridges the gap between the sports and business arenas. Cook is the former director of Applied Sport and Performance Psychology at the University of Kansas (1984-1996), where his peers elected him president of the National Sport Psychology Academy in 1992. During his twelve-year tenure at Kansas, he counseled more than 1,500 athletes and coaches. He also directed the Mindset Academy at the Westin La Cantera Resort from 2001-2006. "