By David Hill USGTF Master Golf Teaching Professional®, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada

Seldom do I discuss or write about any of my accomplishments in golf because firstly, they are few and far between, and secondly, no one really cares. This past winter, however, I took it upon myself to set a goal to qualify for the MSOP putting championship to be held in late October in Las Vegas.

Many have perhaps seen the promotional campaign for the MSOP (Major Series Of Putting) on Golf Channel in certain markets throughout the country. This article is not to promote MSOP, but since they are from my home town of Montreal, it offered a great opportunity to get the competitive juices flowing through season-long events, and ultimately their home base “Tour Championship” in which MSOP will be sending two players to Vegas to compete against players throughout North America.

This is no small potatoes, as there will be some serious cash on the line as competitors will putt in various televised events and formats on a custom-built Jack Nicklaus designed artificial green inside a temporary stadium with Brad Faxon as the ambassador.

As a full-time coach to young athletes competing professionally, in the NCAA and at the highest ranks of junior golf, I felt it necessary to step into the competitive arena once again as I haven’t done so in many years. With little time to work on my game, what easier way to re-acclimatize myself to the pressures of competitive golf than putting? I’ve documented in previous articles my issues with the yips, but have learned to override them. If I could get my way to Vegas, then I could really test those issues under an even higher level of scrutiny and pressure. This is the test. If you’re going to talk the talk as a professional coach, then you better be prepared to walk the walk. Turning the big “Five-O” later this year, I relish the idea of qualifying for the Senior European Tour within a couple of years.

This brings me to the true point of this article, and a question that must be asked: How important is it for a coach or teacher to compete? In the grand scheme of things, probably not very important at all, as our role is to help our golfers and competitive players play their best. If, however, you’ve never competed, I believe you have a duty to do so at least once in order to fully grasp the range of emotions golfers of all levels experience. Whether it is a newer golfer teeing it up on the first tee with two foursomes behind watching while waiting to tee off, or coming down the stretch in a tough battle for a championship with your heart beating and adrenaline flowing, these now become experiences you can relate with and pass onto your students.

With 18 holes to play on the green at the MSOP home base Tour Championship, my palms were sweating and heart rate was elevated, needing to not simply hold on but make some birds as my lead was only one. Hope to see some familiar faces in Vegas. See you in October. Bring it on!
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