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Sean Foley’s Top 100 Golf Instructor is a rare breed in golf: He’s a humble coach who is honest enough to tell you when he doesn’t know something, or even when he’s got something wrong.
Earlier this week, Foley opened up on Instagram about one of his students: Byeong Hun An.
Byeong Hun An rewrote the history books in 2009 when, at just 17 years old, he became the youngest player to win the American Amateur Award. He became a professional two years later, making his team into the Presidents Cup in 2019. Then, in pursuit of taking his game to new heights, he hired Sean Foley as his coach at the start of 2021. A year later, Byung Hun Ann lost his team the Tour card, as it begins Foley’s Instagram message.
“How could we lose our card, when I saw a lot of improvement. We added 20 yards of load for each iron shot, as well as being able to hit every shape and trajectory. We successfully delivered the driver with a speed of 180 balls, and at the same time we made a wedge-shaped connection. And a short iron top spin to ensure improved proximity to the hole. How could we lose our power?”
This, Foley says, prompted him to ask some dark questions:
“The days and weeks that followed were tough for me. One of the tough times in my career, it was filled with so many tough times. What do we do now? What did I do wrong? Where do we not see him? Perhaps, I am not the right coach for Ben?”
Foley says he got through it not by running away from those questions, but by confronting them and answering them honestly. The couple decided they were on the right track, and that the legitimate improvements they saw were real. What was missing was the temple in how They were practicing and mastering newly acquired skills.
Practicing smarter with ‘bankers working hours’
So, Foley said, they implemented a system with “bankers’ working hours”: from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., they rehearsed, and “every hour would have a purpose,” Foley explained. They will practice each area of their game, setting specific goals and tasks throughout. You will not waste an hour.
“It wasn’t easy for Ben when we started this new structure. He’s never worked that hard, but he’s getting smarter. As the days go by, the behavior starts to match the intent,” Foley wrote.
But as you might guess from the header image of this article, this story has a happy ending: Byung Hun Ahn won the Korn Ferry Tour last weekend, after a five-man playoff. This catapulted him to fifth in the Korn Ferry Tour standings, putting him in good shape to reclaim his place on the PGA Tour next season.
Foley, for his part, has a simple message for his pupil:
“Penny, you’ve earned this,” he writes. “I did 180, and I became the best version of you.”