The Doctor vs The Artist

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Pleading with a stadium full of fans who were upset not to hear the classics during the performance of his newly released album, Neil Young assured them that once he was done that they would “hear songs that they have heard before!”

…so he played the same new album through again. Track by track.

Invigorated by a trip to see the renowned Fred Shoemaker, Kendal Mcwade came back to his native Scotland inspired to make a change to the way he coached golf; convinced that this was the most effective way for his players to improve.

…and in doing so he proceeded to lose every single client he had. One by one.

Los cojones.

• • •

Golf coaching is a service industry. There is no way around it. Players often come to us with a specific question about why their shots are doing what they’re doing and we do our best to help them with this. It’s a service and they pay for that service.

However, it can’t be JUST a service. It can’t be just about fixing a problem that the player has. We have to give the lessons that we want to give in a way that we want to give it as well. And, having given the lesson, that it is up to the player if they want to come back. That we value what we do. A certain laissez-faire attitude with a sprinkle of dont-give-a-f-ish-ness.

If golf is the perfect parallel of life, then, if life is about balance then golf must be about balance as well. And with it golf coaching. And to mediate the balance, let’s think about the two possible extremes; that which I very poorly describe as The Doctor or The Artist.

The Doctor fixes. They diagnose and prescribe with their value wholly determined by the quality in which they diagnose, prescribe and hopefully fix. They, like us, are in a service industry and are almost entirely reactive.

The Artist, on the other hand, is proactive. They create. They produce from nothing. They don’t waste time worrying about if everyone likes what they do and trying to get people back; they’re too busy expressing themselves and doing things the way that they want to do things.

And so the question is, which one are you? And to help you answer this, let me consider “Which one am I?”

As ever, it really isn’t one or the other. You can be both a Doctor and an Artist as much as you can do both blocked and random practice. They are not mutually exclusive.

The Artist is undoubtedly more appealing. It’s cooler. But the argument in my head is always, “Well, if it was only about expressing yourself and not caring about the opinion of others, why even produce anything for mass consumption in the first place? Why not just make it and not put it out there?” 

There must be a certain amount of YOU to combine with the I. Within my few different creations, I try to stay as true to myself as possible but I must care what YOU think as well. I mean, I’m using words like “laissez-faire” for crying out loud. I’m expressing myself but also trying to serve and maybe to impress you.

And I think the same goes for golf coaching. Just serving gets boring and only not-giving-a-f can land you in bother as well.

The starving artist is real.

The balance lies in helping the player in a way that is completely unique to you and to them. That is true balance. And that is true golf coaching. 

I want to live.
I want to give.
But done in a way that I want to.


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