InsideGOLF exclusive: Collin Morikawa’s longtime coach reveals the secrets to his success

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The list of instructors who can say they’ve coached a player from junior to two-time major champion is a short one, but count Rick Sessinghaus among them.

Collin Morikawa has been a student of Sessinghaus’ since before he was 8 years old, and Sessinghaus remains his coach to this day. In his keynote speech at the GOLF Top 100 Teachers Summit last month, Sessinghaus spoke about his life in coaching, his journey with Morikawa and his unique approach to coaching that has proven out in one of the game’s biggest stars.

Sessinghaus’s presentation was equal parts inspiring, informative and interesting. You can watch it in its entirety above, but here’s a few moments I thought you’d find particularly interesting.

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1:42 — Sessinghaus’ coaching journey

Drawing on his experience playing multiple different sports before taking up golf, Sessinghaus came into golf as a relative outsider. He noticed that golf coaches have a tendency to be hyper-focused on technique, which doesn’t reflect the way the game is actually played. That set the framework for how he approaches golf coaching, and motivated him to get his doctorate in psychology.

6:42 — Practicing on the course

Sessinghaus shares what his lessons with Morikawa looked like. Crucially, they almost always took place on the course and featured some form of competition. Interestingly, Morikawa also came to Sessinghaus hitting a draw. It wasn’t until college that he starting hitting fades.

11:55 — What’s your golfer personality?

Sessinghaus explains why he started giving each of his students a personality profile and assessment, which can help inform the way you think on the course.

“Who you are can play great golf,” he says. “You don’t need to try to be anybody else.”

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16:58 — The 3-shot drill

How do you become as good at course management as Morikawa? Teacher and pupil would play a three-shot drill, where the future two-time major champ would hit the same shot three different ways, and decide which is the best option. It’s a process that helps teach juniors cause and effect, Sessinghaus said, by becoming problem solvers themselves.

26:36 — Setting goals

What are the right kind of goals? They’re not the ones focused on winning — that’s an outcome. Instead, Morikawa would set his goals that would help him master certain skills. It helps him focus on the process, rather than the outcome, and keeps him engaged every day.

38:16 — What separates Morikawa?

He’s curious, he’s accountable, he always feels like he can get better, and he’s discipled. No two golfers are the same, but according to his longtime coach, that’s the formula that has helped lift Morikawa to the top of the sport. It was this mindset that led to Morikawa adopting the claw putting grip, which he used for his second major victory.

44:45 — Understanding flow state

What is flow state? You may know it as The Zone, a mindset in which you’re totally focused on the task at hand, and not much else.

“It’s about being fully engrossed in the moment,” Sessinghaus said. “Everybody in this room has been in a flow state at some point.”

Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Director of Service Journalism at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University and in 2017 was named News Media Alliance’s “Rising Star.” His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.