Q&A with Golf Coach Lance Hancock

The women's golf team at the RJGA Palm Valley Classic last week. Photo from @plnusealions.

Lance Hancock is the head coach of the PLNU women’s golf team. He spoke with The Point about his team, adjustments to the season and watching professional golf. Responses were edited for clarity and taste.

The Point: Your season looks very different this year and after not having a fall season, what does the spring look like for the team?

Hancock: This pandemic did make for some adjustments in our spring schedule. We put together three separate schedules for a variety of travel restrictions and, unfortunately, the schedule with the fewest opportunity to compete had to be implemented because of the pandemic. We lost the fall and prayed every day that our spring would have some competitions as institutions gave the green light for us to play. Our conference schools in Hawaii and Northern California couldn’t travel to us and with so few Southern California teams, this left us with a very limited schedule in February and March. However, moving forward into April, we will play two back-to-back tournaments in Phoenix and Tucson, (until we start conference play the third week of April) and, hopefully, qualify for postseason play.

TP: How has your team adjusted back into competition this spring?

LH: I couldn’t be prouder of how our team has adjusted back into competition from their difficult year. They reported back to the team in mid-January prepared and ready to play competitive golf. As we prepared for hosting our tournament in early February, it was necessary to cancel at the last minute while teams couldn’t travel in. Not missing a beat, these women won back-to-back in their first two events. These student athletes are resilient and just want to play. So, when the opportunity is available, they embrace it and make the very best of the lost time.

TP: Winning each of your first three tournaments is a huge success. What are the keys to your success as a team?

LH: It’s very hard for me not to start a conversation about success on an athletic field without first mentioning “talent.” And the truth is, this is a very talented team. Even with that, these women love each other, and it has changed the culture of our golf program. When you mix people who care for one another with the same people possessing “talent,” you move the needle! I’m a firm believer that if you just do things better, all else will take care of itself. But the love we have for one another has completely changed how we compete and prepare for our competitions. It may be the starting point for our recent success.

TP: How much do you try to learn when you watch the pros play at tournaments like The Masters? How much do you sit back, relax and enjoy the competition?

LH: The professional game is very different from what most people think. The job I had while representing a leading Original Equipment Manufacturer, on the PGA/LPGA Tours was to work with Tour players and, bottom line, was to make sure they were operating under their contractual arrangements and execute their media requirements. I had intimate access to the best players in the world and it gave me a great chance to ask what always plagued me as a player. What I learned was pretty simple, but consistent among all the successful ones; they are the most positive thinkers in their personal abilities, they rarely lose that belief, and they are experts at crisis control. But first and foremost, they trust the process. The only enjoyment I get when I watch golf is the admiration of how good they are and knowing how difficult what they’re doing actually is.

TP: Who are your favorite golfers to watch and why?

LH: Again, spending all those years on Tour provided many friendships, but the most amazing time was when Tiger Woods came out. I had spent years watching great players but when Tiger came out you saw players, media, reps and everyone stop to watch what this kid was doing. Not many Tour players will admit it publicly, but we never saw anyone do what he was doing. Players didn’t ever give too much respect when other players came to the range, but Tiger was different — everyone stopped to watch. My favorites were Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Ben Crenshaw and Jay Haas. As for the LPGA, all of the members of the LPGA were wonderful and approachable. I worked with Annika Sorenstam, who is probably the best ever in the women’s game. She gave me insight to a world I couldn’t even imagine as a golfer. As friends, my favorites were Meg Mallon and Lorena Ochoa.

TP: What do you wish more people understood when they watch golf on TV?

LH: I really don’t know how much the average person viewing golf really knows about the game and what it takes to play it well. I know that most people I play behind at public courses don’t know much about it at all! The truth is, just like in any sport at this level, these people dedicate a great deal of time to refining their skills. It’s a very difficult sport and to be a weekend golfer while expecting to do many things above average is pretty unrealistic. The things I would suggest to golfers is play from the proper tees, swing less violently and pick up your pace.

By: Andrew Hansen