"I know things about Tiger that nobody knows." -Sean Foleyby Dave Nastalski
SEAN FOLEY is one of those guys who you figure might brush you off when you introduce yourself. He'd say something polite like:
"Nice to meet you. Hey, thanks for coming."
"Want me to sign?"
"I've gotta run, but it was cool talking with you."
After all, he was walking with "Rosey" (as Sean affectionately calls him), filming swings and analyzing video.
A few years back, we caught him on the back of Quail Hollow's 17th tee evading the "tee police" by ducking his iPhone under the massive armpit of a front row patron. And as many know from his slicked-back doo, tattooed arms and unabashed attitude, Foley's not one to care much about bending the rules a bit. In fact, some would say he revels in it. After Rose thinned one back-left, Foley murmured something positive to another passerby and on he went. I think he was pleased with the swing.
Photo credit: B. Spurlock, USA Today Sports
Elyssa caught up to him and said, "Sean, my name is Elyssa. And this is my husband Dave. We love who you are and what you do. We just had to come say hi."
Without missing a beat he says, "Walk with me, I'm headed up to the clubhouse. But let's watch Rosey on 18." I nabbed his swing following Sean's lead.
The sun was beginning to set that late afternoon, and it just became one of those moments you wish you could freeze in time. We sat there afterwards thinking, "What just happened?" Here we were, little 'peons' in the presence of this gargantuan golf-enriched 'scientist' (who has coached some of the best golfers in the world), and yet conversation flowed for well over an hour.
As we walked up the 18th, we chatted about instruction, his tour players, Tiger Woods, entrepreneurship, Revolution Golf, our putting aid, his story and ours. He would yell out things like, "C'mon 'Rosey, you're killing me with those putts!" and... "Atta boy -- that's a good miss right there. That's exactly how we've been working to miss it. What a great swing." and "You see how he's getting that club to move more left right there. That's it. That's the key."
He had an intense & contagious passion and personality.
For whatever reason, he exposed things about his life and the lives of those around him that made us feel like he was talking to an old friend. Maybe he saw the same passion in us. Or maybe he just needed to have a normal conversation, with normal people for once.
'IMPORTANT PEOPLE' ARE PEOPLE TOO.
He told us his story of coming to the States with no money and mounds of debt. This went on for a while and things weren't easy. His wife was fretting and he told her, "Don't worry, we'll be fine." She'd say something like, "But how do you know that, Sean?" And he'd say,
"BECAUSE I'M SEAN FOLEY."
And fine they were. He worked hard, pushed on, and landed the gig that changed everything. Not long after arriving in the US, he had his first Tour player sign with him, who wrote him a down payment check that unknowingly and exactly covered all of that debt. "The rest will come next quarter," he said. WHOA.
It reminded me of the time a member at Medinah handed me a $20 after re-gripping his clubs. What he didn't know was that my bank account had been over-drafted for four days and that $20 would be rationed off for food for the next three until another pay check. It was one of those moments that meant so much to me, and so very little to him. And at some point along the way, I realized that that's okay.
I think it's important to note that everybody has to start somewhere. And when Sean told us:
"Don't worry about being a little different. Disruption is creativity. It's how you become great."
We knew we were chatting with the right guy.
The Sean Foley story has Cinderella stapled all over it, and it's one that I'm happy to share with our readers. I hope someone picks up on the fact that the Foley story isn't all about Tiger this and Tiger that. I think there's a much deeper meaning and purpose to the man who's so well known for coaching "the man." I think his true character shined through that day at Quail Hollow, and for that reason I know he'll only continue to climb for many, many more years to come.
So Sean, thanks for the chat. We really enjoyed getting to know you and picking your brain. If you ever stumble across this post, I hope it brings you some joy.