Archive for April, 2009

Those were the days

Dinner, a couple of drinks and a group of coaches around the table – not many other things get me to laugh as much. And learn as much at the same time! Last night offered another opportunity when the EGU and EWGA coaches got together for the induction of the PGA Level 4 Coach Education. One of our coaches told a story about the first time he came to Woodhall Spa. He was 17 and due to play in the English Amateur. Today he is one of our more experienced coaches so you might suspect that we are going back a few years.

This coach and his friend who was also playing had driven to Woodhall with 20 pounds from their fathers in their pockets. The idea was to stay for one night, get knocked out in the first round and then go home. The friend had a different idea though and suggested that they should play two other guys for 20 pounds each. That way they would, or more like it could, have 40 pounds which clearly was a lot of money. Guess what happened?

With no money whatsoever the car was the only place to sleep and they had to survive on rolls that they could get their hands on by asking people that had soup in the clubhouse – ‘Are you going to eat your role?’

I guess to his own big surprise our coach won his first round and hence another night in the car waited. Still the only thing they had to eat was rolls that other people did not want. Our coach said they had to drive around in the car during the night to get the heating up. ‘When teeing of in the morning my setup looked like a car seat’, our coach said.

In some mysterious way our coach won more matches and a day later Neil Hotchkin, the legendary owner of the golf course, found out about their situation and offered them a room. This probably helped to get our coach to reach all the way to the semifinal where he was knocked out by another legend – Michael Bonallack.

It is stories like this one that makes you wonder if things really were better before. One thing that is clear though is that the Child Protection in Sports unit would have had one or two things to say about the whole thing. But what a great story!

What is with Tiger’s driving?

Ever since he showed up on tour young golfers (and probably quite a few older ones as well) have tried to emulate Tiger Wood’s swing. Bob Rotella, the sports psychologist involved with a number of the top players, once said that he could not figure out why. With the kind of driving statistics that Tiger displayed that is the last thing you should want to model. After the Masters this year there was a lot of talk about Tiger’s driving and I saw an article saying that Tiger’s driving stats had gone from 68.66 per cent of the fairways hit when Butch Harmon was coaching him to 57.82 per cent in the Hank Haney era. That is interesting but is it surprising?

Even though Tiger is a phenomenon unlike anybody else when it comes to his skill and ability to play this game I do not think he can beat the principals of motor learning and technical development and most of all, transferring skills from the practice range to the competitive situation. Changing a golf swing is not easy. Doing it the way most golfers and most coaches try to do it is even more difficult. So what should Tiger do? Well, for what it is worth, here is some advice from the DOC:

  • Take charge of your own development and don’t rely on a coach to give you the magic pill.
  • As in any target game, focus and attention needs to be on the target and nowhere else.
  • Experiment with different ways of getting the ball to the target; a big hook, a fade, a draw, a huge slice. What do you need to do to create those shots?
  • Set yourself challenges; 3 balls – 1 draw, 1 fade, 1 straight – how many fairways can you hit? Anything that will help you simulate some sort of pressure. Difficult to get to Augusta standards I know, but anything is better than nothing!
  • Use varied practice as much as you can, i.e. try and simulate the way golf is played where you never (ok, perhaps on a really bad day…) hit two shots in a row with the same club.
  • Try and find the important check points for your technique so that you can return to them every now and then. Don’t spend any more than 10 minutes on that when practicing though as the rest of the time you want to simulate the game of golf which is really what you want to improve.
  • Follow your progress and check that what you are doing is making you better. If not change your challenges, drills and exercises and try again!  
  • And yes, I nearly forgot – pick up a copy of this book. It is on sale!

McEvoy Trophy

Once the Peter McEvoy Trophy at Copt Heath just outside Birmingham has been played it feels like the domestic season has properly started. The weather is usually more winterlike than the spring that should be here by now and this year was no different. Weather aside though some of the golf that was displayed was pretty impressive and Max Smith was a very worthy winner as he holed out on the final green.

Leading scorers from Copt Heath:

Pos: Competitor: Club: Rd1: Rd2 Rd3 Rd4: Total:
-72  N/Q -71 -72 (CSS)
1st Smith Max Newbury Racecourse 69 35 69 70 243
2nd Downing Billy Truro 71 37 69 67 244
3rd White Joshua Chipstead 74 33 67 71 245
4th Dunne Paul Greystones 70 34 70 73 247
4th Law David Hazlehead 67 35 72 73 247
6th Bell Jonathan Royal Blackheath 73 37 67 71 248
7th Pickard Richard Mere 69 36 75 69 249
7th Campbell Scott Hallowes 74 31 72 72 249
7th Whitson Reeve Mourne 73 35 67 74 249
10th Lewis Tom Welwyn Garden City 68 35 77 70 250
10th Nugent Christopher Fulford Heath 73 35 71 71 250
10th Berry Tom Wentworth 71 34 70 75 250

For a full update on the Peter McEvoy Trophy click here.

Was he smiling?

The Masters Tournament is over for this year. I thought the first week in April would be a good time to take a week of the blogging. Typing ‘Masters’ and ‘blog’ into Google at 10.45 on Monday throws back about 19,500,000 results so I am fairly confident that whatever you wanted to read about the Masters you could find without my help.

As so many others I followed the finish from Augusta late last night and I really wanted Kenny Perry to hole that putt on the 18th. It just was not a good way to not win the tournament. What I can’t help wondering though is – was Perry smiling? He hit it in the fairway bunker on 18 and as he walked into the bunker – there was that grin on his face! 7 iron, a pull draw and when he walked up to that more or less impossible third shot from left of the green – there it was again! Perhaps it was not a smile though. Maybe it was just his face trying to cope with the kind of pressure and thought process that he was going through.

It was an interesting afternoon in Georgia as in a way the tournament was lost by a number of players rather than won by the man who in the end stood there in the green jacket. Woods and Mickelson both gave it a good go and came very close to getting themselves really involved. A couple of missed putts took Mickelson out of it and I am not sure if Woods has ever finished a major where he had a distant chance to finish on top with two bogeys. Perry’s bogeys on 17 and 18 put him in a play off he could have done without. In the end Cabrera had won the tournament by holing a great putt on the first play off hole and then keeping his cool to make the winning four down 10 when Perry had left himself another impossible shot from left of the green. Cabrera has now won two majors and it will be interesting to follow what his progress will do the golf in Argentina in years to come.

On the more domestic scene amateur golf was played over the weekend at Southerndown Golf Club where the Duncan Putter took place. Like in the Masters there was a three way tie, only this time without a play off; Ben Westgate, Sam Matton and Matt Haines all now have their share in the Putter. For full results click here.

Discipline or what?

You probably won’t believe it but there has been another interesting article in the Telegraph. Brian Moore writes about how Capello has changed the standards and brought back discipline into the England football setup. Players now dress properly for dinner, eat together and don’t use their mobile phones when at the table. Interesting. Some players probably like it and others could not care less. I wonder if it matters? What matters is probably that there is a set of standards that you are expected to adhere by as an England footballer. “This is the way we do things around here”. Things like that usually bring teams and groups together. This week when the England Squad trained at Woodhall one player on one of the days chose to come in trousers other than his England ones. That is interesting given that he by now should now exactly why he has had those trousers in the first place. As far as I am concerned players can wear whatever trousers they wish. But not at England training or competition. If they want to do so they are more than welcome to stay at home. But when you decide to come – here is a set of standards that apply. I have a feeling Fabio Capello know that strategy.

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