Archive for category: Expert Posts

When a student leaves…a Coach’s view

November 7, 2016
November 7, 2016

Butch Harmon, Hank Haney, Sean Foley. 3 of the most famous Golf coaches in the World because they had the opportunity to work with Tiger Woods. Every time that Tiger decided that he was going to change coaches it was an absolute media frenzy and made headlines across the Golf World. This has been well documented and written about as the media have tried to answer the question; why? Carlisle Group

Why would the most dominant player in the history of the sport change the pathway of his success not once, not twice but three times? You’ve read about it was his body changing, his desire of perfection, and the eternal pursuit of breaking almost every record the game of golf has ever had.

Professionally this is a man who has had no equal until recently, and for that matter he raised the bar so high the “trickle-down” Tiger effect has reached far into the annals of Competitive Junior Golf.   I have an up close and personal relationship with this as my job is to help every single boy and girl who want to play this wonderful game, do it as best as they can. I always begin every first meeting with every junior the exact same way. I ask the parents to bring them to meet and then we embark on a journey to see if there is a fit. Do they feel like they can work with me and similar do I feel I can work with them. I encourage the parents to discuss the session with their child and engage them in the decision about coming back to see Coach Doug. I believe this important because building a relationship with these children is KEY to being able to connect and inspire them to do their best.

Holding CourtIn fact I would have to say that it’s these great bonds with my juniors that make it so rewarding as a coach to see them grow, learn, smile and laugh and equally hard to watch when they are upset, hurt, frustrated and cry when this game kicks their butts. You feel at times that you are walking in their shoes and feel all the pain and all the joy they do.

As their coach, mentor, teacher and cheerleader you work closely with them and their parents to provide a “road map” of their journey and plot a course that allows for them to see what they want to work for. The communication with parents is an essential piece in coaching and I have had every kind of experience throughout my career to keep this channel an open and honest one. This is very important because parents (I too have felt this with my own kids) feel that their child is a “prodigy” or “the next Tiger”. I often tell parents that their child is only on the Front 9 of their golf career and OUR goal should be giving them the opportunity to love this game so they Finish the Back 9 and make it to the 18th hole!

But sometimes no matter how much you do or how much the junior enjoys you and your coaching, they leave. It took me a while in this business to realize that it isn’t how much I do for them.  This isn’t about me. It’s about THEM. Junior golfer parents want their children to be the very BEST they can be and invariably will seek out what they feel is the most convenient, affordable, exclusive, high performing, matched programming to get their child to whatever level they desire. You cannot control this. You can only invest 200% into every child and know you have done everything you can.

The question is always WHY? Why do they leave? Maybe they think the grass is greener somewhere else? Maybe you weren’t getting them to where they want to be fast enough. Maybe the distance to you is too far to travel for what they want to invest? Maybe you are too expensive or because of their other commitments cannot afford your programming? Maybe they found another instructor who fits better than you? Maybe there is an issue in their lives that prevents them from playing at a high level and they need to step away from it?

Whatever the reason, remember this: It’s OK!


Our job is not to ride the coat tails of the juniors and students we teach into the annals of Golf Instruction Stardom. That is selfish and self centred. Build them up and if they decide to leave then wish them nothing but the VERY BEST and check your ego at the door. Remember there are all your other kids waiting for you. If you can aim to leave a little bit of your wisdom or influence with every junior golfer you coach, instruct or teach during the tenure of your career then you WIN! This is not about YOU or ME, its about THEM! 


I remember a wonderful quote from the owner of Olympia Sports Camp ( I was both a camper and counsellor there) Dave Grace: Winning Is – Doing the MOST with the CAPABILITIES you HAVE! So if you follow this simple piece of information and know that there is a good chance in your career some of your best players will leave for whatever reason, you will be able to keep your head up.


Coach Doug

Golf Professional 2.0 – Part 3 “New Year…New You?”

January 7, 2012
January 7, 2012





Wouldn’t life be simple if you were able to change careers by getting a gift certificate or a gift card under the Christmas tree? This would be easy. Just hop on over to the store and shop for that perfect job!

But what if the job you wanted was out of stock? Or it didn’t fit you properly? What would happen if that perfect job you thought was EXACTLY what you wanted turned out to be completely wrong for you? Made you look horrible and did not co-ordinate with the rest of you? How would this make you feel? Bewildered? Perplexed? Disenchanted? Depressed?

In my first two Golf Professional 2.0 segments (click HERE if you missed them) I spoke about choosing your path and how Golf can really keep you guessing about where you want to focus in the Golf Business. This installment is going to speak about how I found my “Gift Certificate” and how it happened when I least expected it.

I thought I knew where I was going. I thought I knew my path. I was wrong. It wasn’t always so clear to me. I was working towards what I thought was my “dream job”, I was going along the General Manager path. When I got there it felt right. It felt like I had achieved everything that I was working for. The interesting part was that all the while I was working on the 1st path I was actually walking along a path parallel to this one. I never thought that the 2nd path was in fact the path I should have been concentrating on.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of “Tipping Point” wrote about how there is a certain moment where the balance of things spill over and change forever the way it may be perceived, used or grown. I truly believe that this can be said about your career too.

How did I discover this? What was the tipping point for me? It actually came from NOT being hired for a job. A gentleman on the hiring committee had a follow up meeting with me and offered to help me. That would lead to my introduction to a gentleman who would change my life.

“Helping others is not done for self gratification; it’s the right thing to do” – Anonymous

He introduced me to, Jim Carlisle. Jim as been in the Executive search and coaching business for over 20 years. He recently published a book called, “AIM – The Powerful 10 Step Personal and Career Success Program,” which outlines his tried and tested methods to building your pathway to understanding yourself. The introduction and work I did with Jim was incredible. It was like I was reborn. It was the first time I had ever worked with someone like Jim and after only our first meeting Jim enabled me to “See the forest and all of the trees!” Finally I had answers!

So as you can see I had help in finding my way. I didn’t think I needed help. But then again you don’t see yourself the same way others do. Everyone needs some direction. Do you? Or are you hoping that next Christmas that Gift Card or Gift Certificate will be waiting under the tree for you? Don’t wait to find out. Go out and clear that path for your own success.

If you can’t figure it out,  the answers aren’t there, or maybe you think that you need a boost on how to create those ideas for growing, drop me a line at: , follow me @FocusGolfGroup on twitter, or ask to be friends on Facebook.

– Doug

A Networking, Social, Relationship Building, Motivational, Influential PGA of Canada Golf Professional, Coach, Instructor, Mentor and lastly a really great DAD!  Doug Lawrie is the CIO (Chief Influencing Officer) of the Focus Golf Group, and has been a proud member of the PGA of Canada for 20 years. 









Golf Professional 2.0 – Part 2

December 28, 2011
December 28, 2011



It seems that from the time you approach High School the questions start coming, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” or “Are you going to follow in your parent’s footsteps?” Giving you the sense that if you DON’T have your life planned out by the time you hit your final year of High School, then you are pretty much DOOMED to fail!

Why the pressure? Why the necessity? I believe that parents and friends don’t actually think this acutely and equate a lack of planning in a teen as potential DOOM, but there are those who feel there needs to be some type of a discussion about it. This is why the questions are asked and often teens rebel and go against the wishes of their parents, seeking out that journey to “find” out what they truly want to be!

That is absolutely, perfectly NORMAL!

Discovering who you are is a part of life. Some “get it” and know exactly what they want, where some “don’t” and take much longer to figure out the details. A prime example of this happens each year when I speak to the first year class whom have enrolled in the Professional Golf Management Course at a local College here in Ontario. Their class is “Intro to Golf” and a variety of speakers come in and talk about a variety of subjects.

I always ask the class these 3 questions:

  1. How many of you would like to be a Head Golf Professional some day? – to which about 1/3 of the class puts up their hands (out of approx. 35 kids)
  2. How many of you would like to work in the Golf Business after graduation but not necessarily as a professional? – to which about 1/4 of the remaining kids put up their hands.
  3. How many of you have NO CLUE on what you want to do upon graduation from this course? – This always gets the highest amount of hands raised.

In my first post “Golf Professional 2.0 Redux” I wrote about Golf being an alluring sport, dangling thoughts of fame, notoriety and recognition as a reason people enter the profession only to find that it is a business and not all about putting the ball in the cup. So I believe this is why there is a vastly different # of graduates from the PGM programs than those who start them.

However deciding on EXACTLY what you want to be this early is somewhat of a “generational” thing. Let me explain: I once listened to a speaker explain that when I was entering the workforce 25 years ago, my resume showed one maybe two employers typically in the same genre of work. This would indicate to potential employers that this person was dedicated, loyal and a team player. Today the resume you will receive from the starting “the career” search might include five, six or seven different types of work ranging in all type of genres. They call this “EXPERIENCE”.

In fact I read a statistic that my son (who is 9) will be applying for jobs for occupations that haven’t been invented yet!

Will the business  evolve, grow and learn to change in order to capture the BEST professionals who will be vying to take our place in the positions we have helped create? The golf professional in 2037 will be doing things above and beyond our wildest dreams?  Think about the driver, or the golf ball and how much they have changed in 25 years. What changes are  going to be made in the profession? How can the environment known as the Golf Business improve? Will there be a mentoring / leadership / coaching component offered. How do we engage those to follow in our footsteps? These questions are the ones we should be asking ourselves.

If you can’t figure it out,  the answers aren’t right there, or maybe you think that you need a boost on how to create those ideas for growing, drop me a line at: , follow me @FocusGolfGroup on twitter, or ask to be friends on Facebook.

– Doug

A Networking, Social, Relationship Building, Motivational, Influential PGA of Canada Golf Professional, Coach, Instructor, Mentor and lastly a really great DAD! Doug Lawrie is the CIO (Chief Influencing Officer) of the Focus Golf Group, and has been a proud member of the PGA of Canada for 20 years. 


Golf Professional 2.0 – Redux

December 20, 2011
December 20, 2011

I was speaking to a longtime colleague / mentor of mine not too long ago and he made a comment regarding the new crop of candidates who just successfully passed their playing ability tests. He said, “Well they’re one step closer to being OUT of the golf business”. I was floored at first but afterwards I thought a little deeper about this statement. The sad thing was he was exactly right.

Golf is a wicked game. Demanding, hard and almost unconquerable. But her softer side is the real wicked one as she provides a potential or the allure of a career working in & around a game that you love. She teases you with images of wealth, endless supply of golf, and it has a certain  “cool” factor when you say it out loud, “I’m a golf professional”. The dictionary defines a professional as: “Expert and specialized knowledge in field which one is practicing professionally” . So the idea of being an “expert” in an athletic endeavor holds a lot of weight in decisions of young men and women. 

I bet you can name at least 1 or 2 individuals who have left the golf profession in the past 12 months. Don’t worry, there is a wave of young guns ready to take their place. Fresh with PGM graduate certificates in hands they leap into the world of the golf industry to apply what they have learned. Some expect full time positions and because they have spent the past 3 – 5 years going to school in the winter, when suddenly faced with the need to “find a job for the winter” many fall into the pit of despair. Why? This is nothing new. The temperature has not changed here in Ontario or Canada for that matter, our golf season is a limited one.

Well the fingers start pointing: “The Association (PGA of Canada) doesn’t do enough for us”, “My head pro doesn’t do anything to help me find a job”, etc… But the real issue is not waiting for a hand out but working to  get a hand up. Figuring out what it is exactly you want to do as a professional and focusing on creating your career path can create the right method required to achieve what it is you want. The unfortunate part is that a lot of us have absolutely no clue.

But How Do You Find Your Path? 



Douglas Adams said:

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

This path finding mission is not rocket science. There are individuals / coaches who can help you reach your goals. However they are available at a cost far outside the income of 90% of those who really need it. So who can they turn to? It should be the Head Professionals and General Managers, but rarely do they have time to do this properly. Now don’t get me wrong as there are some terrific mentors and individuals who DO practice this. The sad truth is many do not. Why? Time, effort, insecurity, egos or they don’t know how. This is not me taking a shot at my own profession but more of an exposure of what the Golf Business has morphed golf professionals into. So how do we change this?

I  challenge my fellow PGA of Canada Professionals to make more time, listen more, ask questions, and by all means take genuine interest in those working the front lines for us. They need help in navigating their path. We should be there to help them every step of the way helping them construct the map for their journey. Would you not feel amazing being able to change the stigma of more people leaving than entering the golf business? We are in the “experts” category of our Association, we are looked upon to be the leaders, mentors and spark plugs to ignite the passion in those following behind. Job security is not dependent on how many professionals you can put forward into long lasting careers, but it feels awesome when you do!

If you don’t know how to, or maybe you think that you need to set your path, drop me a line at: , follow me @FocusGolfGroup on twitter, or ask to be friends on Facebook.

– Doug

A Networking, Social, Relationship Building, Motivational, Influential PGA of Canada Golf Professional, Coach, Instructor, Mentor and lastly a really great DAD! Doug Lawrie is the CIO (Chief Influencing Officer) of the Focus Golf Group, and has been a proud member of the PGA of Canada for 20 years. 

Stack & Tilt is the New California Condor

December 19, 2011
December 19, 2011

Lets dig into the back issues of Golf Digest for a second and pull out the June 2007 issue. The cover headline: “Hit it Flush Every Time: 20 Tour Pros switch to a Radical New Swing”

Inside you’ll find the original Golf Digest Stack & Tilt article. Since that article was published, reactions from all corners of the golf world have been mixed to say the least. Strong opinions have surfaced on both sides, both in favor of the swing system and against it. It’s no longer debatable that the system works. Stack and Tilt principles have helped golfers the world over to hit the ball better and lower their scores.

To me, what’s interesting is how Stack and Tilt …..Read More by clicking here: