Sean Foley and Mark Immelman: Golf and Doing the Right Things to Improve Your Game

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Sean Foley and Mark Immelman: Golf and Doing the Right Things to Improve Your Game

On the Mark Show Notes

Sean Foley on Golf and Doing the Right Things to Improve Your Golf Game

  • Episode Summary:

    Sean Foley is one of the foremost instructors in the world. He is a PGA TOUR and LPGA teacher and he is also the Head Coach of the Canadian Junior Golf Association. Among many illustrious clients, he has worked with Tiger Woods and Justin Rose. He joins us to share his take on the game and how to maximize improvement and skill. He shares PGA TOUR examples as he dives into Body Motion in the swing, the action of the Arms and Hands, Confidence vs Competence, Perception and Reality and Productive Practice.

Introduction with Mark Immelman:

The On The Mark golf podcast has had some really great content lately. Our recent podcast with Andrew Park was awesome, go take a listen, if you haven’t already. One of the more popular ones was with Kevin Chapman. He spoke on dealing with fear and anxiety and how to navigate them on the golf course. We had the episode with Butch Harmon and it was downloaded like CRAZY! Make sure you listen to that one!
I also write for, please go take a peak at my articles there as well. One of the instructional editors there, Luke Kerr-Dineen, has also been here one the On The Mark golf podcast. He spoke of 5 Great Tips from 5 Great Instructors from Golf Magazine. Luke actually wrote an article summarizing his listening experience of our On The Mark podcast with Butch Harmon, titled: 6 Hall-of-Fame tips from Butch Harmon that can help every golfer’s game

Butch Harmon = legend. 
Sean Foley = legend.

Sean may not be as old as Butch, but is certainly just as wise. Sean Foley has worked with so many great golfers, like 
Tiger WoodsHunter MahanJustin RoseDanny Whillett,….the list is long. He works with golfers of all skill levels, and helps everyone to achieve their best. 

Welcome Sean Foley

Body Motion in the Swing

  • Mark Immelman: I had a young man who worked for me one time, and I will never forget this as long as I live, he looked at me one night after a few glasses of wine and said “Can I be honest with you? I’m still nervous and scared about making a mistake with a client that I work with.” My response was “Long may that be the case!”
  • Sean Foley: The ethos of doctors is “Do no harm.” Right?

     I’ve tried to protect players from my own influence for so long.

    Here in Orlando, we have Dr. Craig Davies, one of the top sport chiropractors in the world, who has always worked with my players on tour. We have Mark B. who runs all our 3D analytics. 

    Basically, a kid comes to see me, gets accessed, then see’s Mark for 3D analysis. Those 2 confer. Then the kid comes to me for a lesson. I basically know what he can and can’t do.

    I feel that I am more consistently working on their game now, than working on this perfect move that I have in my head. It’s the perfect place to be a coach. 
    The thing that is so important about this process is that you know physiologically what limitations there are. When you only look at a player, you think you know what they need to do right away, but when you take into consideration physiological limitations you understand so much more. 

  • Mark Immelman: I love where you are sitting on the spectrum of golf instructors, and how you deliver information. A golfer wants to get better, no matter who you are or what you are working on, you want to lower your score. To see that there are different ways of doing that is fantastic. It takes mental and emotional discipline to be able to take the teacher/mentor/instructor seriously.
  • Sean Foley: I just started working with Lucas Bjerregaard from Denmark. His claim to fame is that he has won on the European Tour a few times, but he beat Tiger Woods on the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play last year. When he came to see me, he was completely lost.

    You start looking at this 28 year old and realize I don’t need to tell him what to do, I just need to teach him what it is. If I can teach him why the lower body would move better if it did X,  and the ribcage would move better if it did X, and the shoulder would move better is it did X.

    He’s just taking it all in. 

  • Mark Immelman: Isn’t it cool. But doesn’t that suck at the same time! Things go wrong, panic sets in and golfers start hitting every button on the console in front of them. Confusion start reining.
  • Sean Foley: That’s the thing, I’m watching him on the range and he looks incredible.  But I think guys like to hit the shot that is the hardest for them. Like an ego thing. Unfortunately. 

    He hits mid-high cut.
          –  I ask: Is it consistent?
          – He answers:  Yeah, very consistent.
           – Me: Ok, so can you stop trying to hit mid-high cuts please and hit a mid-flight draw until we become good at the high cut?!


  • Mark Immelman: It sounds so logical doesn’t?! It is amazing this battle between Ego and Logic.
  • Sean Foley: I think people get frustrated in life because what they think should be real is not real. 

Competence vs Confidence  

  • Sean Foley [Timestamp: 18:30] : I think we get confidence and competence mixed up. If I have a competent skill set and I can manage my nervous system with breath, if I play 72 holes, and I am able to maintain that space, it is not a mind-set. Breathing/respiration is everything. When our mind gets busy and we get on a course, fear comes up, we start panicking, the last thing we do is breath.
  • Mark Immelman:  A lot of golf people are data people now-a-days. I’m all for it. But until you can show me Strokes Lost Sphincter Tightening Syndrome  or strokes lost because I am panicking like a banshee when stuff is going wrong, I am going to take this information a little more circumspect as it pertains to me lowering my score.
  • Sean Foley: I was one of the first people on that boat, ready to use that information. To me it is like I am going on tour for 22 weeks of the year, away from my family, that is my revenue, that is my living.  So from a business stand point knowing the numbers is super important and necessary for my business.

Productive Practice

  • Mark Immelman: This is where PGA Tour Live has done golfers a favor. What happens on Thursday or Friday is infinitely different than what happens on late Sunday afternoon.
  • Sean Foley: I realize I falter too much in my insecurities to help guys hit it perfectly. I have been able to help a lot of guys get really, really good, and a lot farther, a lot better. But we hare high-fiving each other for hitting it “good”. We don’t make our money on the range.

    Realize that we are going out on the golf course and say it has 4 long Par threes, what is the percentage of 8 and 9 irons that a player hits on the range? It’s like 50%. And you think, we are not even going to use that club!

    When you watch people post swing videos, they are all with 7 irons. Because it looks so good. 

    Let’s start to prepare better. It takes a lot of time to get better. If you go play a golf course and you know that 4 or 5 shots are going to be with a hybrid, then please hit your hybrids on the range. 

[Timestamp: 26:40]

  • Sean Foley: I think what happens is not so mental. I think it is more environmental. I think that the way we practice and the way we train really sets us up for unfair expectations. 

We don’t rise to our expectations,
we fall to the level of our training. 

~Sean Foley

  • Sean Foley: If all we are doing in practice is setting up a place where buddies high-five each other and think we are getting somewhere ….it’s ridiculous. 
  • Mark Immelman:  It’s true. When you step up to that first tee, you are stepping into the ring. Stuff is going to happen, and you have to be ready for the worst, but everyone prepares for the best.

3 by the Power of 3

  • Sean Foley:  I would struggle to think of someone who understand the golf swing better than Kevin Duffy. Kevin and I have come up with this idea of 3 by the power of 3. Basically, in the golf swing you have 3 phases of human movement. 
    *listen to Sean Foley’s full explanation: here – Timestamp: 28:55] *
  1.  Stretch Phase in the backswing: what is happening about the diaphragm, above the rib cage
    This is very important in a sport where elastic recoil and elastic energy are important in creating velocity. 
  2. Rotation Phase
  3.  Linear, Rotational, and Vertical Forces we are putting into the ground 

Sean Foley:  When you start talking to coaches in other sports, if you can just get in your mind that the only difference is that the golfer is bent over and we are playing to the side, the rest of it is totally similar.

  • I want to make a movement for young players and beginners, I think that golf needs to be learned at 3 feet off the ground. I think the tee needs to be farther up in the air because the difficult part is that as soon as people bend over and see the club on the ground they start to do everything they can to scoop the ball off the tee. 

Perception and Reality

  • Mark Immelman: I am impressed with the golfer who can make a good score when things aren’t right. I’m impressed by the golf instructor who can help a player from the doldrums back to their best.

    I’ve watched you do that to a certain extent with Danny Willett. 

    Please share some insight with the golfers who are struggling and trying to get back to their best. 

  • Sean Foley: Danny is very athletically gifted. If he picks up a tennis racket, you would mistake him for a pro.

    When I started with Tiger, he wasn’t Tiger.  Hunter Mahan had short game woes. So pretty much all the guys that I’ve worked with have been more to their low point when I started with them. 

    You are not adopting a misunderstanding of technique. You are adopting almost a depressed person. To them, golf is life and death. We know it’s not, but to them it is. 

    Perception is reality, but reality isn’t truth. 

    With Danny, he went from 7th in the world to 450th or something crazy.  
    He never really moved a lot in his swing. He won the Masters and 4 other tournaments, so he can do that obviously.

    But I told him, you are going to struggle to hit a lot of shots to be hyper-competitive. You can’t really drive, you can’t hit it high, and you don’t hit it far enough. So….I asked him you are only 29, a career is a long time, how do you want to go about this? Oh and your neck, back, knee, and elbow all hurt…

    Danny and Lucas are very different. Lucas  just had a misunderstanding about many things that wasn’t helping his ball striking, but he is very capable (he wasn’t hurt from doing it). 

    But with Danny, he didn’t really have any options. If you looked at him, he had no stretch phase and because of that he had no counter rotation phase. So he is basically using the mobility in his thoracic spine and really fast hands to create a ton of force into the club in a short interval. 

Wrap Up with Mark Immelman

[Timestamp: 47:20]

  • Calls to Action: 
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      •  website at:
      • Facebook: @foleyperformanceacademy
      • Instagram: SeanFoleyPerformance
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