The following article appears this month in Golf Central Magazine.
Have you ever experienced this? Something happens—you get laid off, a relationship you valued ends, or you get sick and have to miss a trip, and you say, “That was bad.” Then a few years later, you look back on it and say, “That was one of the best things that ever happened to me.”
There is no arguing that COVID-19 is the most disruptive experience many of us have lived through. But there are silver linings shining through at the International Junior Golf Academy’s Bishops Gate campus. Grant Balcke, Assistant Director of Golf at IJGA BA, believes COVID-19 has created better outcomes in the golf program. Coronavirus control and prevention measures, such as wearing disposable gloves, masks, and maintaining safe distances at all times, have impacted training in a positive way.
“Training is less physical, more visual and virtual than before, and that forces students to take a little more ownership for instruction,” said Balcke. Rather than physically move the student’s club or body into the proper position, coaches now rely on students to grasp the concept and put it into practice for themselves. “It has slowed the pace of training, but the slower pace has improved comprehension and retention,” said Balcke.
Coaches are producing more videos to help with instruction, and—because the most important part of the video production workflow happens before the camera starts rolling—the process requires them to do thorough planning and preparation. The level of preparedness required to make a compelling video is producing better results out on the range.
Balcke said, “When you’re into a routine for a while, you reach a comfort zone and you assume the student knows what you mean.” It’s natural to think that way. That’s just how human beings are wired biologically. When engaged in instruction, Balcke takes a mental step back and asks himself, “What needs to happen to make the situation better?”
Despite the difficulties of coping with COVID-19, greater accountability, better preparation, and effective communication have improved outcomes. Every difficult situation has a hopeful aspect. Once you tap into it, it can have a powerful effect. “It’s great to see our student-athletes and coaches responding and overcoming the challenges set before them.” said Balcke.