Imagine you are 16 or 17 years old and you have just been called to your first coaching session of the winter with the England Boys’ Team. This is held at the National Golf Centre in Woodhall Spa and you are due there on the Friday. When you get there you meet the Lead Coach, the rest of the staff and – Daniel Willett! The European superstar has decided to spend the weekend with his coach, Graham Walker, to pin down a couple of things in preparation for the final race towards Dubai. Now the coaching weekend has become partly a chance to learn from some great coaches and also an opportunity to benchmark yourself against a ‘real player’. This player also happens to be one of the friendliest that has ever walked in a pair of golf shoes and the amount of information that is available at Woodhall Spa has just skyrocketed, through the roof.
This could be a pretty nice thing to have couldn’t it? Or it could just be the first England U18 weekend that took place just this weekend. Thanks a million Daniel Willett!
This morning was an interesting one. I visited Lincoln University to have a good look at their facilities and to find out what opportunities there might be to work together. Once again I am quite struck by the facilities and possibilities that are often so hidden within the university world. There is no doubt that times are changing and universities are pushed to find not just other sources of income than the public sector funding, but also other areas of society that have an interest for what they do. This can only be a good thing – for students and universities because it brings them closer to ‘real life’ and for organisations and companies, such as the EGU, that have every chance to access knowledge and intelligence that the otherwise would not come anywhere near. This makes me think (again) about Finnish neuro-reasercher Matti Bergstrom and his book Neuropedagogy. One of Bergstrom’s thoughts is that schools should really be built in the middle of communities or towns where there is a constant flow of people in and out. Other central parts of the community such as the police station, the library, the supermarket etc should be natural parts of the school as wherever there is flow there is new ideas. Have you ever walked into a school building and had that feeling that there has not been a new idea there in at least the last 20 years?
There are of course companies and work places that give you that same feeling, not to talk about certain activities and sports. I am convinced that the more we bring things closer together the better it will be!
As I wake up to an absolutely glorious September morning I come to think about golf’s calendar. Yes, I know that is sad but the bug of golf tends to do things like that to us. My thinking is that the weather in general is good for golf at this time of the year, the courses are never better and yet there is so little competitive golf to play in the amateur game. In the professional world the PGA Tour conclude with the Tour Championships next week, without Tiger Woods for the first time. In Europe the fight for next year’s cards is hardening and the Race to Dubai has yet to reach its climax. If there will be one that is. The Ryder Cup in early October should mean that the pro game feels interesting for a bit longer as at other times I remember the distinct feeling of ‘the party is over’ after the Tour Championship in Atlanta. Whether October in Wales will have any resemblance of a party remains to be seen I guess.
To come back to the amateur calendar I fail to understand why it is like this. We cannot wait to get started in the spring when temperatures are still freezing cold and the grass on the greens really has not started growing. In the summer any decent amateur can find about three tournaments a week to play in but come the end of August it is like somebody has pulled the plug once and for all. Hibernation sets in!
This of course is not in the best interest of the developing players and needs addressing. Perhaps something for the EU to get involved in???
Last week I spent three fabulous days with our coaches on golf courses in Scotland. We did something that must be considered very rare these days; we played golf ourselves! Or as on of the coaches put it:
-“I have not played selfish golf in 20 years!”
Coaches tend not to do that. Whenever we are on a golf course it is with somebody else’s game in mind, that we are tasked with helping to improve. It was pretty special therefore to have three days where three venues greeted us with open arms: Archerfield, Dunbar and Gullane no 1. Of course when coaches get to spend time together like this it is not only about the playing of the game. The discussions that took place way onto the night where pretty amazing and in most’s opinion worth more than any formal education can ever be.
View from Gullane across Muirfield
On the last day we played Gullane number 1, my first return there since an Amateur Championship, I think in 1998, when the weather did not do the place justice, to put it mildly. Friday last week it was absolutely magical! Early morning, clear skies, very little wind and the views were breathtaking. One of our more experienced coaches said afterwards, after he and his partner for the day (of course play at Gullane is in two-balls!) had sat down on one of the benches on the course to enjoy the view:
-“What is it with golfers? We sat down and had a look around and the course was full of players. Everyone is looking down and muttering about their game when they could just look up and enjoy these views!”
In a way a bit of a metaphor for life, isn’t it? Do you look up and enjoy the views? Or do you just keep your head down and worry about what goes on?
By now you will have probably read all you need to read about Monty’s impossible decision. The Ryder Cup team has been picked and the three wild cards have been named. Monty displayed an interesting combination of thinking as his choice fell on Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington and Eduardo Molinari. The first one probably won’t cause a lot of discussion as number 10 in the World and a cv with a well proven record in the Ryder Cup together with his impressive stretch on the European Tour this summer. The other two are a bit more interesting!
At a seminar with some BB&O coaches last night we came to talk about the selection of players for squads and the principles behind it. I explained ‘National Team coma’, a condition that sometimes occurs when players think they have made it (onto a squad) and then somehow tend to relax a bit and even slow down their progress. We want to keep players ‘on their toes’ where they know that only current performances and putting the work in will earn them the right to come back. Molinari’s current form certainly cannot be questioned and his display at Gleneagles clearly impressed. When it comes to Harrington no doubt a few more questions will be raised with regards to current form. Nobody can knock his experience. It will be interesting to find out what that is worth!