Beth Brown Ph.D. leads Chapter Programs and Research at The First Tee in Florida and an expert in introducing young people to the benefits of golf. After the publication of Beth’s popular womensgolf.com article: Why Golf is a Great Game for Kids, we caught up for a quick Q&A to find out a bit more about Beth Brown.
Hi Beth, when did you realize that golf was going to be at the heart of your career?
I first played golf at 8 years old, and then when I was 12 I started playing almost every day on the 9-hole course with sand greens behind my dad’s local Dairy Queen. I would play 9 holes in the morning, then work from 11:30-3:30 at my dad’s Dairy Queen, and then play 9 more holes after work.
Although I preferred playing team sports, there was something about the individuality of golf that drew me to the game. In terms of my career in the golf industry, my first job out of college was as an Assistant Golf Professional at a private club. However, it wasn’t until I was completing my graduate work in sports psychology that I realized a career in the golf industry was truly an option for me. The past 12 ½ years working for The First Tee home office have been such a challenge and blessing to me, and I can’t imagine doing anything other than work I get to do helping coaches and young people through The First Tee.
How about a favorite teaching experience?
Since I have worked for The First Tee home office, my coaching/teaching role has been more focused on coaching coaches to work with young people. So, my favorite experiences in recent years have been anytime I have the opportunity to coach young people at one of our The First Tee National Academies and also coaching young girls at the LPGA Girls Golf Academies.
What is your favorite quick assist or tip that seems to benefit nearly every golfer?
Spend more time focusing on your target and less time focusing on the ball. Your brain will take a picture of whatever you focus on and then your body responds to that picture. So, if you focus on a target “out there”, then the shape of your swing will be more circular and you will have more of a sweeping motion (brush the grass) through the ball. However, if you focus on the ball, your swing will be more steep or up and down causing you to take a lot of turf, losing distance and the ball generally going short and to the right (for a right-handed player).
Have you got a favorite golf course or golf region?
Having lived in central and northern California on two occasions, it may come as no surprise that my favorite golf region is Monterey County, California. My favorite courses there are Spyglass Hill and Cypress Point.
How have you seen golf psychology (the mental game) change over the years and where do you rate its importance?
I think about when I was a kid playing golf and then going to college on a golf scholarship… and if you talked about working on your mental game it meant something was wrong with you. Fast-forward to my career in sports psychology — working initially with collegiate athletes and now essentially working on sports psychology for kids through The First Tee – and I see how the mental game is generally perceived more as a part of the process of becoming better. Just like you work to develop your technical skills and physical aspects of your game, you also work to develop emotional and mental skills that enable you to perform better both on and off the golf course.
How do you think we can keep encouraging more young women to take up and enjoy the game for life?
I think the key to engaging more young women in the game of golf is to provide more female role models; these role models may be elite players, but of equal importance is for young women to meet and interact with successful business women, educators, etc. who are more successful in their careers because of their experiences in golf.
Thank you, Beth, some great insight there for our readers. Where can people go to find out more about your work with The First Tee?
People can go to www.thefirsttee.org to learn more about our organization which uses golf as the vehicle to help young people develop life skills – such as self-management and goal-setting – and acquire core values including confidence and perseverance.
Beth Brown has over 20 years of experience in the golf industry and has been a Class A member of the LPGA Teaching & Club Professional division since 2002. She received her Ph.D. in Education (with a major in sport psychology) from the University of Kansas in 1999, where she was the Assistant Women’s Golf Coach for four years, taught classes in Sport Psychology and Motor Learning, and consulted with high school, collegiate and professional golfers.
As Managing Director of Chapter Programs & Research at The First Tee home office in St. Augustine, FL, Beth leads the development of the Life Skills Experience curriculum for Chapters, manages The First Tee’s mentoring program, assists with the development of The First Tee Coach Program training content, and oversees all third-party research on the effectiveness of The First Tee’s participant programs.