This is the key to working with the PGA Tour’s biggest personalities, according to Sean Foley

What do Tiger Woods, Justin Rose, Danny Willett, Lydia Ko and Cameron Champ all have in common?

Aside from being coached at least at one point in their careers by Sean Foley, not much else.

Foley has made a name for himself in professional golf coaching some of the sport’s biggest and most unique personalities. But how does he adjust his coaching strategies to meet the needs of each one of his students?

On this week’s episode of GOLF’s Subpar, Foley told co-hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz it all goes back to one thing: communication.

He picked up the skills growing up and being placed in many different environments, such as moving several times.

“I’ve just kind of always been uncomfortable in life. Like I’ve always been in zones of discomfort,” Foley said. “New kid in school, new side of the country, new cultures, new everything. So I think for me, communication became almost like a survival benefit because being the new kid in school every year is not easy.”

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Foley explained that a big part is communicating with his players how long it will take to make a major change in their games. He brought up examples of how Dustin Johnson went from hitting a draw to fade and how Justin Rose was able to add speed to his game.

“Rosie and I set out years ago. He wanted to be faster. He wanted to carry a 310. It took us three years to do that,” Foley said. “We did it to where we wouldn’t injure ourself and we kind of owned every step of the development to speed.

“Whereas, you know, there’s guys who want to swing faster and they’re out on the range right now. You can picture it, Colt. They’re sitting there swinging and doing this and doing that, and it’s like they’re just on the brink of injuring themselves and they’re on the brink of really destroying their swing.”

He also said a key fundamental of the player-coach relationship is trust and the ability to still show love, even when arguing.

“I’m going to give you a big hug and I’m also going to kick you in the balls harder than you’ve ever been kicked,” Foley said. “My guys always know and my girls they always know where I stand. It all comes from a place of love.”

For more from Foley and David Woods, including how Rory McIlroy started using the ProSENDR and the one thing all good golf swings share, check out the full episode below.

Jack Hirsh Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at