Interview with Steve Williams

 

 

May 2009

 

 

About Steve Williams

 

Steve Williams

I started playing golf at the age of 12 in 1970 and I was smitten from the start.  I soon decided I wanted to play on the PGA TOUR.  I was selected as All American in High school and received several scholarship offers to colleges and ended up attending the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA and then Fresno State University.  I had a very good college career (won several collegiate tournaments and two Opens as an amateur) but had back problems and left the handwriting on the wall as far as my aspirations of being a touring pro were concerned.  I didn’t feel like I could play golf for fun and so I quit golf completely, moved to Texas with my family in 1978 and to make a long story short…fell in love, got married, and ended up with a window cleaning business in Houston.

 

In 1990 I ate some bad oysters and almost died.  I was sick for a year and a half and lost almost everything I had.  This is not a sad story though!  When I got well, I tried playing golf again and soon realized that I still had much of the talent that I had in college.  I tried mini-tour events for a couple years (met J.L. Lewis while competing) and had some success but my back problems soon left me with the same conclusion I reached in 1978…I couldn’t play for a living.  I then found my passion…teaching golf to others!  I started giving lessons in 1993 and have been living my passion ever since.

 

Q: Are you involved with The First Tee program?

 

Actually, I am in the process of getting involved with them.  I have taught juniors for 16 years now but due to the success of the First Tee Program, I have decided to do my best to promote them and have the teachers that I currently employ go through some of their training programs.  I train the instructors that I use precisely how I want them to teach but I feel that anybody can learn from watching others.  The First Tee has developed a great program and has had tremendous success with it for many years now.  I can see only positive things happening from this endeavor. 

 

Q: What is The Texas Golf Academy and what is its main purpose?

 

I started The Texas Golf Academy as my After School Program.  We teach golf classes after school on many school campuses throughout the school year.  The main purpose of TTGA is to give an opportunity for every child to have access to golf lessons without the parent having to spend a lot of money at the local club to find out if their child has an interest in and a love for golf.  We have expanded to doing church golf classes as well.    

 

Q: Is there a particular teaching method you find helpful for children?

 

Well, there is no substitute for having a passion for working with children.  Coaches I use simply must have that attribute or I wouldn’t even consider hiring them for our After School Program.  Additionally a child must be brought along at the pace that is dictated by their interest level.  It must be fun or they will lose interest quickly.  As far as developing a golf swing, I stress balance from the start.  Fundamentals such as ball position, a basically correct grip, and ending up with a great finish that they can hold for three seconds go a long way to building a good golf swing quickly.  If the child is able to catch on to these things easily, we will work with them more on an individual basis and then see how far they want to go. 

 

Q: What do you find most rewarding about teaching golf to juniors?

 

I tend to look at this long term.  I know what golf did for me (kept me out of trouble, taught me discipline, established self-esteem, helped me to set goals and work to achieve them, and helped me to learn that my decisions had consequences) and I have the same vision for the children with whom I teach.  I want these children to learn discipline, focus on goals, develop self-esteem and become responsible people.  To me, golf exposes them to these attributes quicker than any other sport.  To see these children finally catch on to something that they have worked hard for, even though the process was difficult, is rewarding beyond words. 

 

Q: How does working with kids through golf help them later in life? Are there any values or life lessons that you try to instill in the children you teach through your program?

 

Wow! I could and probably should write a book on that question.  One of the things that we have an opportunity to develop in a child quickly is honesty.  We all know that golf is a game that requires you to police yourself to a certain extent.  I make it clear to our students very early that honesty is always the best policy.  Golf provides a platform in which that virtue can be taught every day and I try to make sure that they experience the rewards of being honest.  A word that I teach to even the youngest of our students (4-5 years old) is etiquette.  Every day that we have golf class, they are presented with opportunities to either have proper or improper etiquette.  When there are new participants in our golf classes, their etiquette is not what it should be but basically because they are uneducated as to what proper etiquette is.  We start the very first day and stress it for the duration of the course.  At the end of a six week course, they are much better with their etiquette and that sets the stage for them to learn the benefits of proper behavior throughout their lives. 


Course management is also taught very quickly even if on a rudimentary level.  They must learn to plan ahead and do their best to stick with the plan.  The old adage “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is something that can be learned through golf, but if neglected, will cause uncertain results consistently.


Anybody that has played golf knows that there are a complex set of rules compared to other sports or games.  I feel that it is beneficial for a child to learn early that it is important to follow rules and that there are consequences to not obeying the rules. This is yet another element of golf that will prepare young people for their adult lives.


I work with talented young people constantly but to be honest, most of them don’t achieve what their dreams are because they simply lack the discipline necessary to accomplish the extraordinary!  Dreams are great, but realizing those dreams takes commitment and focus.  Having those two elements can lead the individual to become disciplined which is essential to success.