THE HIDDEN REWARDS OF TEACHING
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At the end of a long day of golf, Zack was caught in a three way tie for first place.  In order to win the class 4A district tournament and advance to the regional level, Zack would need to win a playoff and time was of the essence; it was getting dark and the course didn’t have lights. As Zack’s high school golf coach, there was nothing I could do but follow along twenty yards behind with the rest of my team, hoping Zack could pull it out.

 

I’ve been the boys golf coach for five years now at Alonso high school in Tampa Florida.  Primarily, I’m a history teacher, but when the opportunity to coach came up, I jumped on it. Growing up in the golf teaching profession – my father is a golf teaching professional – I figured I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into.  But I soon realized that being a golf coach and a golf teaching professional are two very different things.

 

First, and let me be very clear on this, there is a no money in being a high school golf coach. For a three month season, typically between August to October depending on the state, a high school golf coach may be paid around $1000.  It’s not exactly a way to make a living. Second, it requires a major time commitment.  Practices run about two hours a day, and on match days when we compete against other schools, three to four hours is not unusual. So then, what is the advantage to the teaching professional to being a high school coach?

 

One of the most important components to being a successful golf teacher is who you know and who knows you.  As a golf coach, I’ve had the opportunity to play at dozens of golf courses around the county and to meet hundreds of people involved in the local golf community here in Tampa. Being a coach gives you the chance to establish your reputation around the community as an effective and friendly teacher.  This can translate to more lessons and more success as a teaching professional.  In this manner, being a coach can have a tremendous impact on your teaching career.  But there are also other, more important reasons you may choose to become a coach.

 

Zack was in great shape after his tee shot.  A high school senior, Zack had been on the team since he was a sophomore.  I’d had the opportunity to see him transform into a tremendous player and an even better person, and I knew he had what it took to win the playoff.  His second shot landed him on the green eight feet from the hole, and from there it was merely a formality.  Both of his opponents bogey’d while Zack sank his putt for the birdie.  It was what Zack did after he won though, that made me glad I’d become a golf coach in the first place. Instead of celebrating with his teammates, Zack followed his opponents to the next hole and walked along while they decided who would be second.  At the conclusion of the match, Zack took his hat off, shook his opponent’s hands, then calmly walked back to the clubhouse before celebrating.  As his coach, I had never been more proud of him and was honored that I had been given the opportunity to help shape him into the person he was becoming.

 

Being a successful teaching professional sometimes requires creative ways  to create business for yourself.  Taking a few months to coach a high school team can be a great way to do that.  But it also provides you with a chance to make a real difference in the life of a young person as I was given the chance to do with Zack.  I also get the chance to teach the thing I love to do – play golf. In the end, isn’t that what being a teaching professional is all about?

 

By: Ben Bryant, USGTF Level III Member
Tampa, Florida

 

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