What Was Paul Azinger’s Philosophy?
US Ryder Cup team captain Paul Azinger poured his heart and soul into planning the 2008 Ryder Cup team. But the plan was not about redemption from past loses…
His plan was to develop teamwork, have a blast, and get the fans and players’ families involved…
“This is a group effort that required some team building and for these guys to bind to a concept,” said Azinger.
He took a team philosophy that required everyone’s involvement:
“My philosophy was to have this be a great experience for the players and their families; parents, cousins and uncles, whoever the heck, children and wives, and for my assistants; for it to be a great experience for them. That was my goal.”
What did Azinger do that created a team atmosphere? He divided the team into small groups of four players each.
“I’ve had this idea for about five years, if I was ever the captain, how I would try to approach the team. You know, we just decided to come together in small groups, that was it,” said Azinger.
He picked four players that would gel and have the most fun playing together:
“We put four guys together in practice rounds and they played together every day, and they were the four guys that stayed together the whole week and they were never going to come out of their little group. That’s the way I did it,” said Azinger.
Azinger’s approach was not to be a baby-sitter. His goal was to get every player to buy into his team concept.
“They embraced a concept, they embraced the pressure and they embraced this crowd, and they did it, not me. They did it,” said Azinger.
Azinger’s philosophy worked well, especially for Kenny Perry who had the experience of his life:
“I birdied four holes right out of the gate, 2, 3, 4 and 5, and I had the putting touch of Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus. I was in a zone. I had such a calm and coolness about me, and the fans here are just unbelievable,” said Perry after the US Ryder Cup win.
Team captain Azinger got a little help from a special guest: Lou Holtz. Holtz came with a special message to help the team focus under adversity:
“Holtz came in with a great message. One of the messages was ‘what’s important now.’ We stuck to that message… If they got in trouble, I brought it up; remember Lou Holtz talked about what’s important now, and let’s forget what’s behind us,” said Azinger.
Focus on what’s important now, teamwork, positive emotion, fun, and embrace the pressure. Sounds like a wining formula to me.
Your Golf Confidence Coach,
Dr. Patrick Cohn
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