Q&A with The Hosts
What made you want to start The Par Train?
Cerm (Matt Cermak, Par Train Co-host and Co-founder) and I (Evan) gave a speech at our mutual best buddy Ryan's wedding. For context, Cerm was Ryan's best buddy in college (Played D1 college golf together at Missouri State), and Ryan and I grew up together in St. Louis. Not to pat ourselves on the back or anything, but we brought the house down. There may have been a blonde wig involved. Anyway, we just felt a spark together with a microphone in our hand, and we just said let's do it. 6 years, 200 episodes, and 800K+ downloads later, here we are. Crazy. It's been the most rewarding ride of my life.
The Par Train keeps growing! What do you attribute your growth to?
People DM me all the time asking how to grow, how to get an audience, etc. It's funny, we asked those questions too when we first started. We'd ask ourselves questions like "Oh if only we got X guest? How can we grow faster, etc." But here's the irony. It sounds cliche, you've probably heard Gary Vee say it, but I can verify that it is 100% true. Once we started making podcasts and daily content simply trying to help others, we started to grow steadily by the hundreds per day.
It didn't happen overnight like people think. Sure you get bumps every now and then, but it was super gradual for us. We began to document more of our own personal story, what we were working on, what helped us bounce back mentally in our rounds last weekend, etc. I think people started to relate to what we were doing and most importantly got real results in their games. Lastly, people have told us that it's refreshing to have a lighter, more positive voice in the golf space to pick them up if they're having a bad day out there.
Where do you see The Par Train going?
Honestly, we just want to help as many golfers as possible. On and off the course. I can see us becoming a force in the video space, events, more merch, live shows, group golf trips, coaching, you name it. I want our platform to entertain but I also want it to educate and inspire. I believe if someone's going to take time out of their day to consume our content, they should get something that they can take to the course that day. I don't take it for granted either. I hope people realize that I'm living out my dream to help people become happier humans and shoot lower scores on the course. I couldn't imagine any better combo than that.
Can the mental side of golf help people's mental health off the course?
1000%. There is no better mirror of our thoughts than golf. How else can you explain hitting a perfect shot and a terrible shot in the matter of a few minutes? Our bodies don't forget how to hit a ball. It comes down to how much mental interference we have over that next shot. We're obviously a golf show, but our listeners can use these concepts in literally any life situation. I began my own spiritual, mindset journey when I was about 17 years old. I used to hide the fact that I would buy every self help book I could get my hands on. While all my friends in college were stressed, I wasn't.
When I started my career, people would ask me how I'm so positive all the time. I've even led stress management trainings for some of the biggest companies in the world. I've seen how the thoughts I choose to think transformed my life, and I realized golf is the perfect platform for other people to try and learn these skills themselves. Your golf scores will likely drop and hopefully you are much happier off the course too.
What do people get wrong when it comes to mental health?
One of the best quotes we've ever had on the podcast was from one of the country's top anxiety management experts and coaches, Dr. Kevin Chapman. Podcast is linked here if you're interested. Easily one of my all time favs. He said "We have to learn to treat our thoughts like hypotheses, not facts." READ. THAT. AGAIN. I know it sounds simple, but it takes practice to become the observer of your thoughts. After all, you can't change something until you become aware of the thing you want to change. Any time I feel anxious or uncomfortable, I actually get excited now because that feeling is information to help me learn more about myself, what I value, what I'm scared of, my own self image, etc. So this stuff is huge for every aspect of our lives. From an uncomfortable conversation with a family member to being on the tee box with water right. It's a singular practice that impacts every experience in your life. How cool is THAT.
After interviewing some of the best players and coaches in the world, what's one thing people could do to help their mental game and overall happiness on and off the course?
Here are two of my favorite excerpts and learnings from the podcast:
"Aim at a spot, but play to an area. If I told you that you have to make this quarter in a shot glass on a table or it's a bad shot, you'd likely struggle. People get super guidey. But if I told you to try to make that quarter in the shot glass, but landing it anywhere on the table is a good shot... total freedom." See how a simple shift in focus can free up the body?
2. Have you ever made a par or birdie from the trees? Have you ever made a bogey or worse from the middle of the fairway? I'd assume everyone's answer is yes. It's important to remember that golf is a game of recovery, not a game of perfection. Amateurs overreact after misses. Pros underreact. And amateurs play too aggressive and pros play conservative. If every person reading this changed their mindset to swing aggressive to conservative targets and saw every miss as a challenge to recover and make par, whew. The impact would be shocking.
What’s been your favorite part of working on Par Train?
This is easy. The messages from our listeners. We've had so many e-mails from people who could never break 100 that have now broken 80. It's crazy. But my favorite e-mails or DM's are about how people are smiling more off the course. Their spouses comment about how they're happier people. That's why we do what we do. It's the most rewarding thing in the world. Oh... and working with Rhoback. I can't leave that out :). You guys believed in us before anyone did. I love how we both value building things the right way and putting people first. So thank you to Rhoback. You guys are the best.
A huge shout-out to the guys at The Par Train on their 200th episode! If you need some help with the mental aspect of the game, give them a listen to gain those extra few strokes and play like you've wanted to.