Archive for the 'EGU' Category

A lesson in golf

Hat off to the Americans I think. It was a convincing victory that without a doubt showed that over this weekend, on a golf course like Merion, the US are the stronger team. And unlike last time it was not with the narrowest of margins. The GB&I Team just never stood a chance.

In a way this is not all that surprising. It doesn’t matter which ranking you look at, the Americans were always the stronger team. In match play and team golf though it is often said that anything can happen. It did in the Palmer Cup this year when a European Team, on paper substantially weaker than their opponents, beat a US Team with a number of the Walker Cup players in it. This time the team failed to add up to more than the sum of its individuals and that was never going to be enough.

Merion is a great golf course. In a not too distant future the US Open is stopping by and it will be so interesting to see how the USGA in their usual manner can defend the course. The greens will do their bit. On Sunday afternoon they were rolling at 13.7 on the stimp meter. In simple terms that means b-y fast! Greens like that not only require a gentle touch of the putter when you are on them. They also crave for course management worthy of a chess master and the shotmaking skills needed to be able to put the ball in the right place, with the right spin and trajectory, are second to none. The Americans this time simply prevailed in all those areas!

Development in Golf

Last night I made my debut as an after dinner speaker. That is a tough job and even tougher if you are up against the closing minutes of Inter vs Manchester United on TV. Lucky for me there wasn’t a break before I was due to come on so those that would have taken such a chance to disappear would have been easily spotted had they tried to sneak out of the room. As an after dinner speaker you should be funny, quick, enthusiastic and inspirational while you deliver a thoughtfuland relevant message. I am under no illusions that I met any of those expectations but what I wanted to do was simply to get the many people involved in Golf Development to understand how important they are to not only the growth of the game as a whole (by getting people into the game) but also to the generation of future elite players. Perhaps this is a golf thing and doesn’t apply to other sports but we tend to talk about these things as separate from each other. As if the way to work would be substantially different when our focus is to get people started compared to if we think about how good these people can then become. I think that is a big mistake as what we need to do is to create an environment where people and children want to be as much as they possibly can. Those that spend a lot of time there will have the chance to become really good. Those that don’t will not reach as far but they will still enjoy to play the game.

This week is a big and awaited one in the golf world. The Tiger is coming back to the tour, 254 days after he won the US Open on one leg. Reports suggest that he is fitter an stronger than ever and it will of course be interesting to follow his every move in this week’s WGC event in Arizona. I would not think that it is a coinsidence that he comes back at a tournament sponsored by Accenture… Follow the action here.

In the amateur game the Spanish Amateur has just started with the first round today. Seven English players are in the top 14 so far. The top 32 after tomorrow’s round qualify for the match play stage. Results are available here.

Whitnell wins the Portuguese Amateur

Dale Whitnell, ©Tom Ward

Dale Whitnell, ©Tom Ward

The Portuguese Amateur 2009, the first individual amateur event of the year on European soil, ended as an all England affair. Jamie Abbott faced his England Squad friend, slightly more experienced Dale Whitnell in a play off for the title. With a birdie on the second play off hole Dale managed to seal the victory leaving Abbott in second place. This was Whitnell’s first international victory and also by far Abbott’s best international performance so far. Two more englishmen, Sam Hutsby and Luke Goddard finished in the top 6.

Pos. Nome Clube To PAR Total Dia 1  Dia 2  Dia 3 
1   Dale Whitnell ENG   – 6   210   71   68   71  
2   Jamie Abbott ENG   – 6   210   73   69   68  
3   Reinier Saxton NED   – 4   212   72   70   70  
4   Luke Goddard ENG   – 3   213   72   70   71  
5   Jurrian Van Der Vaart NED   – 3   213   68   69   76  
6   Sam Hutsby ENG   – 2   214   72   66   76  

For full results visit the Portuguese Federation results update here.

Another pretty impressive amateur this weekend was New Zeelander Danny Lee who managed to win the Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth, Australia. By that he became the youngest ever winner of a European Tour event. Ross McGowan finished in a very nice tie for second place, one shot behind the winner.

Give us back our game

When the EGU Coaching Conference started on Thursday a few eyebrows were raised and questions were asked about the background of this theme. For me this conference is a bit of a “dream come true” in that the role of games and their importance in developing athletes in sports have followed me ever since I got involved in coaching. One of the first people I met when I started university in Stockholm was Rolf Carlson who had just done a study on the Swedish success in tennis. Sweden at one time had 5 men in the top 10 of the world rankings and Rolf had found that playing games and spending most awake hours of the day on the tennis court growing up played a huge part in these players’ background. This encouraged me to do a simular study in golf and I wasn’t too surprised to find the same results also in my sport.

This role of games and what some has referred to as the “intelligence of play” has then followed me in my discussions with both coaches and players around the world over the years and interestingly, I have found the same background in pretty much every sport. I would also argue that this role of games and play should not diminish as players develop and grow. The list of players that I have come across telling the story of how they left their successful way of using games in practice for a more “serious” approach, working on their technique and practicing “properly” on the driving range goes on and on. For many of them this has not taken them further up the rankings. On the contrary they have gone the other way and on a number of cases ended up off the tour. For the more than 100 people that attended the first day of the conference I don’t think this is too difficult to understand, having listened to Paul Cooper, Lynn Kidman and a panel discussion featuring Peter McEvoy, Paul Affleck, Paul Eales, Paul Schempp, Rod Thorpe, Kendal McWade accompanied by both Cooper and Kidman. This is in no way saying that technique is not important but the big problem is that in the search for excellence in their golf swings players tend to completely miss out on the scoring skills that playing games taught them.

Give us back our game is about returning to good habits and introducing new ideas that will get the ball in the hole in fewer strokes. It is about putting the performance in the centre and using every available initiative or idea to improve that performance.

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  • Raymond loses out to Irishman Whitson in the Spanish Amateur March 5, 2013
    Irishman Reeve Whitson prevented Neil Raymond from keeping the Spanish Amateur Championship in English hands when he beat the Hampshire man 4 and 3 in the 36-hole final at La Manga.Although Raymond twice held a slender lead in the opening nine holes, he found himself 2-down at lunch after the man from Mourne eased ahead […]
  • USA’s Sean Dale wins Jones Cup February 4, 2013
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