Sean Casey Interview – Part 2 – ‘The Sean Foley Influence’

@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.

2. @36aday – You’re quite clear that Sean Foley has been an influence in your career. What was it about Sean and his approach to instruction, his approach to people, that resonated so deeply with you?

SC – From an instruction standpoint he was just very broad in his approach. People would show up for lessons probably expecting a technical assessment and recommendations, what they need to do with their grip or their posture or whatever. But before you know it Sean is talking about Gandhi, or Jesus or something, or someone. His mind would go anywhere. He would talk about business. Businessmen would show up and they do well with their business but it likely took them a long time to get good at business. They failed, they bankrupted some companies and now they’re successful business owners and he would bring up that point, saying ‘why do you think you should show up here for a lesson and have instant success when it took you many companies to figure out how to successfully run a company and have it profit?’. He wasn’t afraid to tell a successful businessman that and he would maybe ruffle some feathers every now and then too where people would like, ‘listen young 25 year-old coach, I came here for a golf lesson and you’re, you know…’

@36aday – Yes, like ‘I’m pulling everything left and you’re talking to me about my business philosophy’. But it also sounds like he had a commitment to folks he worked with and dealt with the whole person.

SC – He did. Exactly. He’s dealing with the whole person and he’s trying to make them better, you know he would say things to people that would help them realize this shouldn’t be a short term venture, that you should develop a long term approach to improvement. Failure is ok. You can learn from your failures. Don’t be afraid to fail. You just have to get better over time. So he really has this long-term, get better over time attitude and he had to at times say things to people that were really making them realize that, yes, look over here at the rest of your life. Did you instantly get that good at playing guitar? How did your music sound in year one? Whatever he had to say, whatever they did successfully he would use those examples to them and as a coach buy himself time so they were buying into his coaching philosophy long term. He was just really good at having people look at golf as a long term process but he also just knew where to go to get better, understanding how are we going to get better, it was beyond technical. Sean was so good technically. And people would know him for his technical knowledge but then you get to know him and it’s like there is so much more to Sean than just his technical knowledge. It’s really all the other stuff that I think people enjoy. Most people I know that have taken lessons from him always say ‘I just enjoyed our conversations’. I can’t tell you how many people I know and still run into here at Glen Abbey, I teach some of Sean’s former students – Sean is not around obviously – and they always say I enjoyed my conversations with Sean. Because they spend some time working on the swing but then talk about Gandhi or Nelson Mandela and certain people really enjoy talking about those types of things. Its philosophy

@36aday – It sounds like you have some fond memories. If you look at your own strengths as an instructor is there anything you would attribute to the mentoring and support he provided?

SC – Yes, it’s just the overall care for the person. That holistic view of golf. I had a kid that was really good, and he’s still good. That young kid is now playing college golf very successfully in the States but at the time he was a six year old. He was one of the best six year olds in Canada, it sounds kind of funny but you know when he was six, seven and eight he was one of the top players in that age group and he got to junior world championships or the US kids championships and he was doing great. He was fun to work with. He was getting better; he was hitting the ball great. Sean, one day, made a comment to me about my lack of concern for his back, his lower back. And within his swing motion, this little kid, was doing something in his swing that was putting his spine in a fairly strained position. Of course the kid wouldn’t know it because he was so young and supple but Sean felt if he was to keep swinging that way that someday he may even be able to play golf. So Sean made some strong comment and maybe it was more bold than it needed to be but Sean felt I was not hitting in on this thing and he felt that I was not concerned about the little kid’s long term career, just that I was too focused on his current game. Sean’s like, ‘he may not even play as a teenager if you don’t take care of that’. So all a sudden I’m now looking at the swing in terms of where it’s putting pressure on his spine. I hadn’t been thinking of that. Just an example, it’s not all about current success with your students. It’s about being mindful of their future.

@36aday – Definitely with your commitment to working with juniors I could see how you would be focused on short term objectives while being aware of the long term goals.

SC – Yes. That’s just one example but I mean there were times where it was obvious that Sean’s mind was considering long term. And trying to influence the person and help them to where they will be 20 years from now and how will have helped influence them, not just in the short term about getting rid of their slice but maybe to do more such as ensure they are playing the game in 20 years.

Tomorrow – Sean Casey Interview Part 3 – Sean and Sean: The Early Years