What’s the plan?

As I am sitting on a train in the dark late October night heading for London I am spending my time surfing around some of the college golf websites. Golfweek is always a good one and their coverage of collegegolf is top of the line. As I look out my train window I think to myself, if I was a young boy, a golfer, with aims to become one of the better players in the world and I was based in England – what would I do right now? As dark as it is and as cold as it is, and as few chances of tournament golf as there are right now I am not sure I would be doing that much that would actually bring me towards my goal. I could of course be doing some gym work to build capacity for the future and work really hard to get ready for the next season. But I cannot help wondering what the players in the top teams in college are doing at this time. Do you want to know?

University of Georgia wins at Iselworth

University of Georgia win at Iselworth

They are playing competitive golf against their peers in one of the toughest fields that you can find in amateur golf – at Isleworth (yes, that is the home club of a certain Tiger Woods)! Ok, looking at the pictures it does seem to be a bit cold and perhaps the greens are not Augusta fast but I am sure they are not that far off. So who is in the most beneficial environment if the goal is to become a good golfer? Is it me in the dark in England or the guys out in the Florida sun?

Most of our top junior players in England at some stage get approached by college coaches from some of the schools in the States. Some of them are offered deals in terms of scholarships that basically mean that they could get on the next plane and arrive for four years in the Florida sun, or any other sun, at no cost. Do you want to know what most of them say?

“No thank you”.

I just don’t get it…

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5 Responses to “What’s the plan?”


  1. 1 james January 2, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    It was only a couple of years ago that top coaches/players in the U.S were commenting that their college system was producing nothing in terms of players making it to the u.s tour. It appeared the college players had it too comfortable, everything provided. At least a player in the UK has to fight to be the best – find the coach, work efficiently with limited daylight hours etc. That competitive edge is lost in the college system. I think some players are right to turn down college chances. The system has a habit of turning out players with technically wonderful golf swings but have lost the competitive edge to make it on the cut-throat tour. Just my opinion. Thanks for the blog!

    • 2 Mattsson Peter January 2, 2009 at 9:36 pm

      Many thanks for your thoughts James! Yes, I believe Hank Haney was one of the coaches who spoke out a couple of years ago about how the college system, in his opinion, fails to produce players. I agree completely that it is not right for all players but I know for a fact that it has been very beneficial for many players. However, it requires the same kind of homework that you suggest the UK based players need to do, i.e. find out everything you can about the places you have the chance to go to, learn about the coach, look into the tournament schedule, research the facilities and so on. The biggest problem with going to college in my opinion is not going to the ‘right’ place. What I don’t understand is how so many players can dismiss this opportunity without doing the homework!

  2. 3 james January 3, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Thanks for the reply. I will totally agree with what you said, every option should be considered, it certainly wouldn’t cost much to go out and see what your options are. Far better to base your future on experience – maybe give it a trial and if you don’t like it you can always come home.

    Not a college example but Carly Booth springs to mind. She didn’t like it at the Leadbetter Academy but ended up with Mike Malaska – she may not have the college experience but has found a place that is right for her where she can practice all year round. My concern over college golf came from the Haney article as you said and also something Hal Sutton said after the 2006 Ryder Cup:

    ” Problem 2: We’re Too at Home on the Range
    Europe has a bright future with 20-somethings Paul Casey, Luke Donald, and Garcia; America has an endless lineup of well-meaning kids with cookie-cutter swings who can’t get it done on the course.

    “In the old days you could have Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Raymond Floyd, Gary Player, all on the range, and you could be 300 yards from them, and you’d know which one was which,” Sutton said. “Today, if you don’t get right up in their face so you can read their names on their bags, they all look alike. They’re so caught up in mechanics. Well, golf has always been a game of feel. All of the sudden it’s almost like it’s not a game of feel.

    “On the range,” Sutton continued, “it’s a perfect lie every time, it’s level, it’s the wind you want. We’ve made a perfect world out of everything.”
    http://www.golf.com/golf/tours_news/article/0,28136,1578433,00.html

    That seems to sum up the college experience of obtaining perfect swings although i acknowledge there is a healthy competetive environment. Maybe it is not just America. The whole teaching industry seems to have fallen for the fallacy of perfect swings equal success. However i take your point about finding the “right” college for you. Not even doing your research about your best opportunity is not doing the best for your future golfing life. Better stop now before i fill up your blog space!!!!

    Best Wishes for 2009,

    James

  3. 4 james January 3, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Just thought i better come back and say the perfect swings comment wasn’t aimed at the EGU!

  4. 5 james January 3, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    (cont. from above) Obviously can only go from what i have read but i’m glad the elite english golfers have access to such good coaching and coaching models. Have seen the pdf file on games used, similar to what the VIS use with Peter Knight and what Steve Bann uses in his teaching (specifically improvement cycle and skills testing). Also seems the EGU coaching uses similar thoughts to the work of Pia Nilsson – a more holistic view of golf coaching. Very good to see our elite golfers are in such good hands!


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