A fresh breeze over Royal Birkdale

Links golf does not get any better than this. A bit of sunshine, a bit of wind and a golf course in perfect condition, played off the championship tees. An Open golf course without the grand stands, tented villages and the thousands of people is always a very different experience than during that week in July when everything happens. Royal Birkdale is no different and to me this is when the golf course really is at its best. In perfect harmony with mother nature, set out between the sand dunes that cover it from the sea this golf course offers golf at its best. When England take on Australia in these settings I cannot help wondering if the players understand how fortunate they are.

The match became a real showcase of the strength that this England Team holds. 11-3 against a country like Australia is nothing short of superb. After having been ‘taken to the cleaners’ as Seve Benson, now on the European Tour, once put it, two years in a row when the match was played ‘down under’ this was a nice change.

A match like this serves a number of important purposes. Perhaps the most important one is the chance to benchmark against some sort of standard. With the Australian coach, Mark Holland, I got into a discussion about how we communicate with the players and their own little eco-system of their personal coach and other support services that they make regular use of. No matter how good that support is it is not very often that those people get to see the player in this kind of environment; on a world class golf course playing against some of the best opposition. Our job centrally has got to be to communicate strengths and weaknesses to the player’s individual system and through that and the support that we can give, make sure that the next time he is about to take on a similar challenge, he has taken another couple of steps towards being as good as he can be. If players, coaches and others involved are prepared to take that feedback on and work together the opportunity for every player to rapidly move forward should be fantastic.

And the Northern County Qualifier? Yes, for the first time ever Cumbria will be in the County Finals. Well done!

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