The Mental Side of Golf: Interview with Golf Coach Aaron Garcia 

Joseph Mok

  • April 14, 2021

In sports, and just about everything else in life, having a strong mindset is a crucial
ingredient for success. This holds especially true for golf, which although may not be as
physically demanding as say, football or basketball, trains players to work well in high-pressure
situations.

Mr. Aaron Garcia, who has been teaching five sections of AP Psychology at Gahr for
3 years, has recently taken on another role at our school by becoming the new Boys’ and
Girls’ Golf coach. Having played golf ever since he was a toddler, and also being a psychology
teacher, made him the perfect candidate for becoming a golf coach - which as mentioned above,
is a sport that requires discipline and mental toughness.

When the previous golf coach, Mr. Peiper, retired, Athletic Director Mr. Marshall reached out to
some teachers who were interested in taking his place, and Mr. Garcia responded to his email.

“I’m a huge fan of golf, I’ve played golf my whole life, I played in high school, and I really want
to get back to coaching. I love athletics, and so this was a great opportunity to get into Gahr
athletics,” said Garcia.

As a teacher, Garcia loves associating what he teaches in the classroom with the real world, and
he plans to carry that into being the golf coach as well.

“I apply my psychology terms, pretty much daily in my life, especially out on the golf course or
in any type of athletic competition,” said Garcia.

“The students who know me know that I’m always making jokes and always trying to make
connections, just to make the day, or the lesson, or the match more meaningful. And I do that all
the time.”

Garcia began playing golf ever since he was “big enough to hold a club,” and since then, his
passion for the sport never ceased.

“My dad took me to Heartwell Golf Course - the same golf course [where] Tiger Woods learned
how to play ... on Carson Avenue since I was three years old,” Mr. Garcia recalled. “People
don’t believe me when I say that I’ve been golfing for that long, but I always show them... my
first club. And my first club was about this big [makes hand gesture]. So yeah, I’ve just been
golfing my entire life.”

When Garcia was asked what he loved most about the sport, he replied: “The fact that golf is the
ultimate mental game. I tell a lot of people who are just getting into golf that people will play
golf for thirty years and never get any better. Meaning, people who’ll have these habits, and they

will keep these bad habits with them for years and years and years, and it’ll never improve
because golf is all a mental game.”

He also pointed out that there are countless professional athletes in America - from a variety of
sports, such as football, basketball, and baseball - that play golf. Why? Because the nature and
pace of golf is so different compared to so many other sports that involve high-speed momentum.

“You know, Michael Jordan is a HUGE golfer. Charles Barkley is a HUGE golfer. All these guys
golf. And they do it for a few reasons. A: It’s chill, but B: It’s a mental game. And it’s a complete
diversion from what they’re used to doing,” Garcia pointed out. “Michael Jordan is used to
having thousands of people screaming his name in this pressure situation, where he’s gotta just
rely on his instincts, right? And just play and go and go, and not stop and can’t think, and
millions of people screaming at you!”

“So a lot of athletes enjoy playing golf because it’s literally the exact opposite of what they do in
their sport. You know, football is this crazy contact sport. Golf is the exact opposite. So it’s easier
on your body in terms of just physical contact.”

“But that’s not what makes it fun. What makes it fun is the fact that because it’s not a physical,
fast game, it is a mental, you know, pressure-patience game. It’s about, you know, how confident
are you in that singular moment right before you swing the club, or right before you hit that
ball.”

With the golf season having started on March 20th, Garcia is looking forward to getting back on
the course and playing golf again.

And despite the pandemic, golf is a sport that “naturally socially-distances its players,” said Mr.
Garcia. “Most players will be at least 50-100 yards away from one another, at all times.
Otherwise, golfers will be required to wear masks while on the tee box, they are not allowed to
share equipment, and there are no post-match handshakes between teams.”

As competitions begin rolling in from March to mid-May, hopefully we can once again see our
golf team out on the grass.


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Apart from being a Psychology teacher and the new golf coach, Mr. Garica is also an author! He
enjoys writing about psychology and sharing about his knowledge of the human mind. Check out
his novel, “The Inviting Tang of Rotting Nectarines,”
here on sale on Amazon.