Sean Casey Interview – Part 1 – ‘What drives you to be a great instructor?’

@36aday is pleased to introduce interviews with leaders in the game of golf in Canada. Nine questions are presented to probe important issues of the game, personal experiences, stories and insight. Just like 9 holes of golf, I hope you find this enjoyable and that it leaves you wanting more.

A Quick 9 With Sean Casey, Director of Instruction at The Glen Abbey Golf Academy and Head Coach for the Canadian Junior Golf Association National Teams.

1. @36aday – You’re a nationally and internationally recognized golf instructor who has been coaching full time for about 15 years now. What motivates or drives you each day to be a great instructor?

SC – Fortunately I haven’t gotten tired of it, to where I’m looking to do something else so it’s nice to still get excited about teaching and helping people each year. It offers an ongoing challenge and opportunity to help people improve and be better. At first you are just trying to fill your available time slots. After doing that, I really starting considering the whole experience for the student and how can I improve the experience and service. As the Director of Instruction, I also have the ongoing challenge of supporting our other coaches and programs and trying to grow the entire academy, not just my own personal coaching business. There are new technologies that come along and change the experience and the way we measure improvement. These days, it’s essential to take advantage of technology that allows us to accurately assess, measure and quantify improvement over time. TrackMan was a game changer and the latest one I am excited about is ‘force plates’ to help us measure where the pressure is under each foot during the swing.

@36aday- That’s one of the biggest advancements in instruction in a while and you obviously have that here

SC – So it’s the technology. If I went back over the 15 years there’s something new getting you excited every year, like ‘I can’t wait to use this new technology or I’m going to do this better’. For me, if there’s one thing, one quality that I have – and I see some questions coming up about Sean Foley – if there’s something I’ve gained through knowing him it was this desire to get better. And I had it to some degree, obviously, I think everyone at some level wants to learn but when I started teaching here my first year I had gotten pretty good, I felt I’d learned a lot. Year one, you learn a ton, because you’re surrounded by teaching pros; probably one of the only academies in Canada that had a bunch of golf coaches. Fifteen years ago there weren’t many academies with five, six coaches so I was fortunate to be here at that academy with some good coaches. And I learned so much that first year. I remember saying to Tom Jackson, our boss, and Sean, ‘I’m thinking of moving back to New Brunswick – I just moved here, like one year in – and I thought to myself ‘you know what, the people in New Brunswick are missing out. This type of coaching, this information doesn’t exist in the minds of golf coaches out east’, so in my mind I developed this little goal where I’m going to take what I learn here in Ontario and I’m going to go back and help east coasters.

@36aday – Do you think about that from time to time? You’ve been here for a while and you’ve created your own brand. Is there any time where you think, it would be nice to get back home, back east?

SC – To be honest, no. I remember when I suggested to Sean and Tom, ‘I might leave’. It’s been a great year, life was going really good and it was fun and I was learning, and all that. I was making money doing what I wanted to but then I thought ‘I could be the guy on the east coast’. I’m not going to be the guy here, heck, I’m not even the guy in my own academy so how am I going to be the guy in Ontario? But I can maybe go to New Brunswick and be the guy, help work with the top juniors and so on. Back then the east coast didn’t have a lot of coaches, full-time coaches, so anyway Sean basically made me realize and he basically said something to the effect of ‘Sean (ok, I’m going to put words in his mouth), he may have said Sean you really don’t know jack squat’. Or ‘Sean you don’t know shit yet’, or something to that effect, right? And I remember looking at him and I’m like, I was feeling so good, I was feeling I know so much now, I learned a lot from you and Tom and then for him to look at me and say, ‘you don’t know shit, like you’re just getting started here, and there’s so much more to learn’. And I remember that conversation and it kind of helped me plant my feet here, really stay and I changed my attitude about moving back to the east coast. You know when I look back it’s kind of funny, I did learn a lot that year but now I look back at how much I’ve learned over the last fourteen years that I’ve stayed here and yeah, I really didn’t know very much then.

@36aday – Do you ever talk to him about that conversation and how it really stuck with you? It sounds like a little tough love but also some, hey, you should stick around, and there may be an opportunity for you.

SC – But there was always a lot of tough love with Sean. When he had the chance to influence somebody, there was no holding back. He would say what seemed at the time like the most crazy, wild, unthoughtful things but he was just trying to help spur positive change and influence me to do what was right. At the time you think it is unthoughtful, you feel like he is being a little…inconsiderate of your feelings but you always look back and I would be like, wow, it took a lot of guts for him to, you know, in the moment, create a little friction between us but really he was doing and saying what was right for me. So I think, you know, a lot of people don’t like to have conflict, but – and I would be more of that nature – but sometimes a little, ‘hey, I have to put emotion aside here, tell you what you need to hear’ is a good thing. And Sean would say whatever he needed to say to me, emotions and feelings were out the door.

@36aday – laughs

SC – And it took me a while to get used to that but he influenced me a lot because he was so open and honest.

Tomorrow – Part 2 – Sean Casey: The Sean Foley Influence