Importance of Having A Mentor

by Brian Dobak
March 29, 2010

In Greek mythology, Mentor was the son of Alcumus. In his old age Mentor was a friend of Odysseus who placed Mentor and Odysseus' foster-brother Eumaeus in charge of his son Telemachus, and of Odysseus' palace, when Odysseus left for the Trojan War. When Athena visited Telemachus she took the disguise of Mentor to hide herself from the suitors of Telemachus' mother Penelope. As Mentor, the goddess encourages Telemachus to stand up against the suitors and go abroad to find out what happened to his father. When Odysseus returns to Ithaca, Athena appears briefly in the form of Mentor again at Odysseus' palace. Because of Mentor's and Eumaeus' near-paternal relationship with Telemachus, the personal name Mentor has been adopted in English as a term meaning a father-like teacher.

If you examine any successful, veteran golf professional, they typically have one thing in common: a mentor. It’s very possible that nearly every successful golf professional in history has had someone who they could confide in and learn from when times were tough. To be successful as a golf professional it is very important to have a mentor, a coach, someone with more experience than you, someone who is in a position in the business that you desire to be in the future. Most people underestimate the value of a mentor and this is arguably the biggest reason for failure in business. A mentor offers valuable insight to things that only experience can teach as well as a host of other things. They have fruit on their tree, which shows they have paid the price to be in a position to offer wisdom to you if you need it.

The following points will put into perspective the importance of having a good mentor and the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have someone in your corner that is knowledgeable about the golf profession. And believe this, if you don't have one yet, you better find one before you need one.


As assistant golf professionals, how many times have we been discouraged by the myriad of possible things in this business? A mentor will encourage you when you are feeling low. This does not mean that other people cannot offer you encouragement but when it is coming from someone who knows and understands the golf profession inside-out, it means a lot more. A good mentor will motivate you with a simple statement that affirms you are on the right track even when things do not seem to be going well. They have the ability to reassure you that everything is going as it should be because they have been there before.

Reduce Mistakes

A mentor will help you prevent mistakes that you otherwise would have no way of avoiding. There are only two ways to gain wisdom as a golf professional: making your own mistakes, or learning from others mistakes. A mentor has probably already made many of the mistakes for you so you don't have to do it all over again. So in other words, experience is the best teacher IF it's not your own experience. Failure is only possible if you decide to figure out everything on your own. Here is the problem: you don't have enough time to make all the mistakes you need to make to be successful.

Eliminate Weaknesses

A mentor will help you remove your weaknesses. This is usually the tougher aspect of a mentoring relationship because it involves pruning off some of the things holding you back in the golf business. If you have a good mentor, understand that you are not always going to like them. Their primary role is to be your mentor and their secondary role is to be your friend. Your best friends see you as you are, your mentor sees you for who you can be.

Your friends will tolerate your weaknesses, but your mentor will help you remove them entirely. Your friends are comfortable with your past, but your mentor is more comfortable with your future as a golf professional. A good mentor will stretch you just by being in your presence because they know and understand you better than you understand yourself.

Bring Out Your Strengths

It takes a certain type of person to bring out talent and ability undeveloped in people. Talent cannot be taught which is why coaches are more valuable than players. Without good coaches, talent would be useless. A good mentor will help bring out the best in you when you don't necessarily see the qualities you possess.


A mentor will tell you the truth because their primary objective is to make sure you are successful. Your friends will always tell you what you want to hear, but a mentor will tell you what you need to hear. This is not always easy to do because of ego issues. But a good mentor understands that a day of tension is better than a lifetime of regret and as such will always tell you the truth rather than let you believe you have arrived at your destination.

Stages of Mentoring

A former boss of mine once said that when it comes to mentoring, there are two stages. The first stage is early in your career when it seems like you need a mentor all of the time. The second stage is when you’re at a point when help from a mentor has become less important than helping yourself and figuring things out on your own. But know this, mentors have mentors to. No one is exempt from the need for help. No matter what stage you’re in, you will always need a mentor, even to your dying day.

In the golf profession, having a mentor is vital. It is said that we are all always one-step away from getting out of this business. When we think we are about to make an irrational decision or we do not know what to do in a difficult situation, there is no better place to go than your mentor.