ON THE LINKS: Lessons from walking 18 with two of golf's best

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  • | 2:45 a.m. April 16, 2015
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You can learn a lot watching professionals on TV or at an event.  

You can learn even more when you can walk with them, ask questions and watch what they do. 



I had the unique opportunity to walk 18 holes with two of the world’s elite players, Erik Compton and Rory McIlroy, at the recent Arnold Palmer Invitational.

From that experience, I have some lessons I would like to share with you.  

Being a great person is the first lesson I can pass on from that day — being genuine at all times. Knowing who you are and what your limits are will assist you to play great golf and provide the people around you with a sense of who you are and what you’re about.

The second lesson the day provided was purpose. Rory had his lifelong coach with him, assisting him to navigate the course. Rory’s meticulous attention to detail is one of the reasons he is the world’s No. 1-ranked player.  

Erik was trying to break a streak of missed cuts and had his father, and later on his family, at his side to support him. 

Although it was a practice round for each player, every shot — each target, each club selection — had purpose.

Lesson No. 3 concerns adapting and problem-solving. I was able to ask Rory and Erik about their preparation for The Masters, as well as other items, on and off the course. Each explained how his equipment has changed through the years, how each has changed his routine — both on and off the course — to increase his potential and how he deals with life issues.  

As is life, golf is a puzzle — a problem-solving journey. Along the way, things change, and you have to be ready to accept and embrace the changes the game hands you. 

Erik’s is a story of perseverance and determination, something else to be taken away from my encounter. Erik has had to overcome two heart transplants in his short life. So many times, I see golfers give up during a round because things did not go their way — if Erik had given up with that type of attitude, he would not have been one stroke away from winning the U.S. Open a year ago.  

Determination and commitment to any endeavor is crucial to your success, and it starts with one small accomplishment, so others can follow.

Each professional had a team with him. From swing coach to manager to family, I noticed that each showed tremendous trust in the team that surrounded him. The lesson there is to allow some of the people in your life to experience what you do on the golf course. 

Incorporating some of the lessons I learned walking with two of the world’s best most likely will assist you to improve and enjoy the game more.  

But more importantly, it will make you a person of genuine quality first — a better golfer second.

John Hughes is an award-winning golf coach whose clients include golfers of all skill levels, including major winners on tour.  His website and blog, JohnHughesGolf.com, features tips, advice and the programming he offers at West Orange Country Club.  To find out how you can improve your game or schedule a lesson, contact him at [email protected], or follow John as  “JohnHughesGolf” on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube or Instagram.


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