Yes, I think it is fair to say that we have reached the two week period when even the golfing world takes a little bit of time off. Christmas, New Year and then – first week of January and the PGA Tour are at it again! I am going to put my feet up and I will be back again in early January!
The EGU Christmas Camp has just come to an end. Our U18, A and England Squads together with officials and coaches have spent three very productive days together, once again at Loughborough University. As a bit of a surprise this year, the players were given an opportunity to visit the Dragon’s Den. William Anderson from the Teamworks lead the exercise that started with a workshop on communication and presentation techniques. Players were then split into five groups with five or six in each with the brief to do a pitch do the dragons on an idea that would help the English Golf Union create the best possible environment for young players to develop into major winners. On Saturday night, the Dragons took place in the Den and the presentations begun. I have to say I was really impressed by the way the groups had taken on the challenge and both the ideas and the performances were of a very high quality. It was clear that they had taken on many of the tips delivered the night before. And the ideas? Well, having heard presentations on warm weather training, a system of creating invitations to professional events the Dragons concluded that the EGU Management no doubt was the front runner.
Even though Chris Wood got stuck due to the weather on the way home from holiday and could not make it we had some very inspiring speakers. Dave Ridley did an interview session with Walker Cupers Matt Haines and Chris Paisley and Dan Willet shared some of his experiences from the tour together with John Pates, the sports psychologist and Clare Pheasy got everybody thinking twice before indulging in anything from Pizza Hut. All in all, a great lead up to Christmas!
The Ladies European Tour schedule for 2010 just landed in my inbox. I think it is time for many of us to eat some humble pie and take our hat off to the executive of the Ladies Tour in Europe. 27 tournaments are nicely fitted into a well balanced schedule from the end of February all the way through to early December. Ok, some events are still to be confirmed but put the schedule next to the LPGA equivalent with 24 events and it looks pretty impressive. And the LET schedule does not include the majors in the US that the top European players are likely to get into anyhow. The only area where the two schedules still differ is the prize money. Without properly doing the maths I think a good guess is that the average LPGA tournament has somewhere around $1,500,000 in the total purse while the LET equivalent would have something like €300,000 (~$440,000). Considering the on costs are likely to be the same for the players to get to the events, that means the conditions are quite different for the average member of the respective tours. The premier events om the LET are substantially bigger though and can well compete with their american counterparts. Obviously, this is why those events usually see quite an influence of LPGA players in their fields.
The two major tours on the men’s side, the PGA tour and the European Tour, have also presented their schedules. As usual there is golf just about every week for those interested in playing (and watching). In light of the recent happenings with the World no 1 obvious speculation is now taking place as to what will happen with the prize money, when Tiger is not there. Graeme McDowell said it well when he said that he and his colleagues have been lucky to play in the same era as Woods. At least when it comes to their bank accounts. I remember a few years ago when I spoke to an executive of a big sponsor in golf. He said his company had left the men’s game in favour of the women’s for two reasons: 1) The money was much smaller and therefore easier to justify and 2) the women were so much nicer to be around than the men.
The difference now is that golf is in a much more challenging position overall. But I do have a feeling that the executives thinking about putting some of their marketing budget into golf might think twice before they rule out the women’s game.
I read a note about Michelle Wie just recently. Having more or less just landed in Dubai for the Dubai Ladies Masters she came off the longest flight she had ever taken, San Fransisco – Dubai, to let everybody know that “it had all been amazing and she had loved everything so far”. Then she went on to talk about how she had only had three hours of sleep the night before due to her studies in media and communications. I would say this young woman deserves some credit. How many young boys or girls with her talent and potential would still be in school? Many with a lot lesser possibilities lined up for them leave school many years before 20. Will Michelle Wie become a better golfer because she is still in school? I have no idea. Will she have a richer life? Guaranteed!
I have just posted December’s Monthly letter so if you are interested in it, check out the Monthly section on the right!
It has been a week of being “back again”. For me it was back to Arcos Gardens and three very productive days with the coaches of England Golf. For others it was back to school, this time the Qualifying School of the European Tour. Every time I look at the starting list of the Tour Qualifying I am surprised by the number of very familiar names. This year the leaderboard looked like it was taken straight from a main tour event.
At Arcos Gardnes it was, as always when these people get together, an environment of sharing and learning. John Jacobs took us through how he uses technology and the wonderful world of the internet in his coaching and I think it is fair to say that we all now know a lot more about websites and tools that we did not know existed. Graham Walker followed that by talking about the needs for England players in terms of the skills they need to be able to compete at the highest level. In a way a very suitable topic on a week where reality is very close – have the players got the skills to get through Q-school? Paul Ashwell presented his theories on putting, David Ridley and Gary Smith shared their ideas on coaching on the golf course before it was time for the Masters Chefs to prepare the dinner for the night. The following day held a great technical debate on the driving range and an introduction to how to use the Zenio putting system. As I leave Arcos I am once again amazed bz the amount of knowledge in a group like this and the kind of environment that is created when the knowledge is shared. Great stuff!
The other thing that I cannot help wondering is what would have happened if those players that now did not make it through Tour School and perhaps not even made their Challenge Tour card would have had a chance to continue to tap into this knowledge. What if we had said that professionals are those that play for a living and have a Challenge Tour card or higher. The rest are just golfers and are welcome to compete for their county. What a different world it would be!