by DAVID W. KEEN
TourCouncil.com Staff Writer & Editor
Ralph Bauer may just be the best coach currently working in Canada. He has coached at just about every level of golf there is, both professional and amateur. You may know him as PGA professional David Hearn’s coach for the last five years or for his work as assistant coach of the national men's team for Golf Canada, but as Bauer himself will tell you, his specialty and his passion is working with young athletes, which he currently does in the Greater Toronto Area.
Growing up playing on a nine-hole course in Turkey Point, Ontario where Bauer says there was little to do but golf, he ended up playing his way to a Division II scholarship in the United States. After 5 victories in 2 years, he transferred to Division I University of Texas at El Paso where he roomed with Paul Stankowski.
After college, Bauer played professionally in what he calls a “brief and unremarkable” career before moving to coaching, which Bauer says he was initially hesitant to do because he had worked with so many coaches who had failed to deliver any kind of real help to his playing career. He made it a goal to become the best coach he possibly could, always with a mind towards providing to others what his own career lacked.
“I wanted to basically become the coach I never had,” says Bauer, “so I wanted to be more holistic and work with the players on the golf course, on their practice habits, on their event prep, etc.”
Bauer says that with this in mind, working with juniors was a natural progression. “They tend to train for golf, rather than just taking lessons as older amateurs do.”
To say that Bauer has had success in this endeavour would be a major understatement. In addition to working with Hearn, Bauer’s students have won an incredible 22 Ontario Provincial Championships. He’s had over 20 of his students receive US Scholarships at schools like Harvard, Michigan, Houston, Eastern Michigan and Lamar, to name a few.
When talking about his students’ success, Bauer’s enthusiasm shines through: “My students’ success is something I’m very proud of — it’s still kind of shocking to me when I think about it.”
Bauer says he puts a lot of time into bringing real-world knowledge to his Academy students. In addition to constantly furthering his own golf education through reading and studying current techniques, he attends around 15 PGA Tour events a season, not just to support players on tour but to study what the best players in the world are doing, to better equip his own students.
“I feel that a lot of coaches out there are going off of theory and not necessarily what the top guys are actually putting into practice. I think that’s extremely important, too.”
He also works with college coaches and takes a very active role in the recruiting of his junior players to make sure they go on to schools that offer a good fit for them personally.
Bauer enjoys working with young athletes so greatly that he also spends his down time coaching other sports such as hockey, soccer and cross-country running.
“It’s really hard for me to describe just how much I love it, not just in golf, but in any sport I feel like I can help out with.”
Bauer believes that in addition to the training that’s already out there being focused on, the future of the advancement of golf training lies firmly in vision training, especially as it pertains to putting.
“I think it’s pretty clear now that the last big wave of game improvement was and is conditioning but I think the next big one is going to be vision training,” says Bauer. “Most players, if they ‘see the line’ that day end up playing great and most of them go to the course hoping it’s going to be one of those days — which doesn’t make sense, as we can train it to happen all the time.”
TourCouncil.com will have more on Ralph Bauer’s vision training philosophy in the coming days. You can follow Ralph on twitter at: @cdngolfcoach