Having more than one string to your bow is the hallmark of the modern coaching professional. Combine that with a desire for self-improvement and a willingness to explore new ideas and you have the blueprint for a successful career, writes Paul Kelly.
Eamonn O’Flanagan is the current High-Performance Programme Lead for the Golfing Union of Ireland’s (GUI) Leinster branch. Having qualified as a PGA professional in 2002 he made an early mark as a coach, working at the Seve Ballesteros school at the Heritage.
“It has always been about coaching for me,” said the Donegal born 45-year-old. “I started my career with Eddie Doyle at The Heath before moving to The Heritage with him in 2002. At that stage, it was one of only three venues in the world to host a Seve Ballesteros Academy.”
It was a decision to take a step back from coaching and return to education that set him on the path to his current position and a role that involves regular contact with some of Ireland’s leading amateur players.
In 2013, Eamonn embarked on a Masters Degree in Sport & Exercise Psychology. Not content with taking on the extra academic work in 2015 he also secured his ASQ Level Three Certificate in Coaching.
Having been part of the Leinster coaching set-up since 2007. his decision to return to his studies left him ideally placed to take on the role of Programme Lead when the GUI completed a reorganisation of coaching structures in 2017.
Eamonn added; “The role is about overseeing the provincial coaching programme and assisting the national set-up to implement the GUI plans.
“I’m a link between the branch and the coaching teams and help to set the strategy and policy for those teams.”
Given his degree, it’s no surprise that Eamonn has an interest in performance psychology but he stresses that doesn’t simply end with his elite clients. He continues to coach club golfers at a number of venues including Portarlington, Athy and Shane Lowry’s home club of Esker Hills.
“Sports psychology can help with the needs of elite and club golfers,” he said. “For the club golfer, it might be issues around motivation, time management, how or why they are not enjoying the game as much as they should.”
On a personal level, he’s not standing still either and is exploring further studies which might include some further academic studies involving elite performance.