Most sports fanatics have a favorite sport. Managing Golfers for almost as long, 19 years, as I coached college football, 21 years, has given me quite a perspective to compare these two high profile sports. I have been blessed to be inside the arena and inside the ropes of the oblong ball and the dimpled ball.
What lessons have I learned?
There are many differences in the two sports. Football is a team sport. Professional golf is an individual sport. The fan support is more rabid in football. One can hardly hear the person next to you in huge football stadiums during the heat of the game. The quietness while a golfer is hitting or putting can be as quiet as grass growing. Football is brutal. Golf is a gentlemen's game. Football players run, tackle, throw, catch, block, lift heavy weights, and have every minute of every practice planned by coaches. There is no wasted time or movement. Golfers drive, hit irons chip, putt, lift lighter weights and basically make their own practice plans. They do have input from coaches and others about how to practice but it is still usually up to them. Football season is seasonal. Golf season is year-round. Successful football careers are much shorter than successful PGA Tour careers.
Football players at the intercollegiate level and professional Golfers both work and train all 12 months. It is well known how hard football players work. It is not well known how hard Golfers work. Contrary to popular belief, the life of a PGA Tour golfer is tough. The popular train of thought is, "PGA Tour Golfers show up, warm up, putt a little and play 18 holes of golf, period!" That thought falls so short of what these Golfers days are like. Early tee times call for rising between 4:00 and 5:00, departing for the course, stretching with trainer, eating, putting, going to range then back to putting green ( an hour and 10 minutes or so) before teeing off. The 18 holes on Thursday and Friday are usually about 5 hours. Lunch follows before going back to range and/or putting green for more work. These can often be 10-12 hour days. Weeks they are not on tour many times are even tougher. They work hard!
I miss the relationships you develop with your players as a football coach. My clients ( Golfers) as I manage their careers often become like family. That is always my goal. There are just fewer relationships in golf than in football when you coach more players.
My years in college football I ran across many intentional rules violations. This was the toughest part of college athletics for me. Golfers call rules violations on themselves. Where else does that happen? I genuinely love the honor and integrity that is at the very fabric of golf.
Finally, My 19 years in golf at this level has convinced me Golfers know less how to practice than any other professional athlete I am aware of. This is simply through observation. There are exceptions to this thought. Those who truly know how to practice generally have the most success.