Posts Tagged 'England'

Back again

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!

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A sense of the Olympics

Team England in the World Cup

Two rounds have been played in this year’s World Cup of Golf out in Mission Hills, China. The Irish Team with Rory McIlroy and Graham McDowell have taken the lead in front of the defending champions, Stenson and Karlsson from Sweden. England with Ross Fisher and Ian Poulter are steady going, so far in 6th place. Team USA with Nick Watney and John Merrick are way down the list which I guess is not all that surprising considering that most of the American players would rather be at home celebrating Thanksgiving than out in China representing their country. Hat off to Watney and Merrick for at least making the journey.

I could not help smiling when I saw the logo for this year’s World Cup. A well designed player with all the flags, the trophy and then the punch line – “For the honour”. A bit of wishful thinking there I think but it would be great if that was true. Is it not time now, in light of the Olympics, to really do something with this event? Two players per country, or more if they are all top 15 in the World, will be competing in the Olympic Games in 2016. We have six years and another five World Cups to sort this out. Had it not been for the time of the year, the venue (Mission Hills every year for the foreseeable future!) and the lack of national involvement the World Cup could have been a great build up to the Olympics. For the honour – anyone?

Outliers

I picked up a new book today. One that I have had my eyes on for some time but not yet come around to reading. Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell.  An “Outlier”, according to Gladwell, is a scientific term to describe things or phenomena that lie outside normal experience. This can for example be people who perform tasks or roles that lie way outside what most of us can comprehend, such as a World Class athlete in a sport. In the first chapter Gladwell hits me with what I kind of already know, but never really would like to admit. He has looked into the background of the most successful players on high performing teams, in the league as well as nationally in a few different sports and a number of different countries. Without a shadow of a doubt he manages to show that what we believe is somebody that has made it to where he or she is thanks to talent, hard work and ambition is actually something completely different. Why would there otherwise be such a huge over representation of people born early in the year in these teams? Gladwell argues that in fact what we see is a classic example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. We pick athletes at an early age because they are better than their peers. More often than not though the reason to why they are better is simple that they are older (=born nearer the cut off date for the applicable age) and therefore more developed. Once these youngsters are picked they are given more opportunities, better coaching and more resources and guess what happens? They leave their peers behind and what we thought was going to be the case is now a reality.

That is some pretty serious stuff to chew. Facts are though that in most sports, as well as in education, we disqualify people because of the time of the year in which they are born. What a waste of talent that is!

The world’s library

While the players are warming up for the Walker Cup at everywhere from the Buckingham Palace to Pine Valley I have been busy trying to summarise my impressions from the talent development course I attended last week. In doing so I discovered something that looks way too good to be true. Deborah Meaden of the Dragon’s Den usually says that if that is what something looks like – it normally is too good to be true. And I guess that is why the World’s book publishers and authors still cannot make their mind up whether to love or sue Google for their gigantic book project. Of course I am talking about Google Books which could virtually put the whole World’s library at your fingertips. Will it cause us to by less books? Or will it perhaps give us the taster we need to go out and buy the ones that we otherwise would not have known about? Try to figure that out… All I know is that the information and knowledge that sits their waiting is absolutely incredible! Check it out: http://books.google.com/

And by the way – what a great winner the European Tour had last week. Alex Norén certainly deserved his first win. Not many players on tour combine tremendous talent with hard work the way he does. Usually, it pays of in the end…

Home Internationals

England in the Home Internationals (© Tom Ward)

England in the Home Internationals (© Tom Ward)

It is a big week, this one. The Home Internationals (I think it must be only in the UK you can play Internationals with the Home countries…), for a long time seen as the pinnacle event for amateurs in Britain. Even though it is now challenged by a number of other high profile events in the amateur calendar there is no doubt that it is one of the finest tournaments in the year. Teams of 11 players tee it up in 5 foursomes every morning and 10 singles in the afternoon. All four countries, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, play each other to find a winner. To field 11 competitive players, strong enough to represent their country in the required way does call for some strength in depth and not many other countries would ever be able to compete with the Home Unions in this. The amateur culture just is not strong enough and most of those amateurs good enough to take part would have already turned professional before it is time to pick the time. To represent you country in an 11 men team, that is a pretty special thing though and perhaps it does serve as a spring board for players to go on to even bigger things. With the Walker Cup being just around the corner it will no doubt help to put those players in the match play mode they need to be at Merion against the USA.

When the ‘Homes’ started today England managed to beat Scotland 9.5 against 5.5 and Wales won against Ireland. You can follow the action with live scoring here.

Scotland win the European Championships

No, it was not England’s turn. The reigning World Champions, Scotland, can add “European Championships” to their resume after beating England today in the final of the European Championships at Conwy, Wales. Having lost both the morning foursomes England once again made a strong come back. Hutsby and Haines in the top two matches secured their points while Whitnell lost. It was now down to Fleetwood and Goddard, still on the golf course. Scotland were up in both those matches though and neither of Tommy nor Luke managed to turn the match around. Paul O’hara holed the winning putt on 17 against Luke Goddard.

See England Coach David Ridley comment on England’s performance this week:

 

For full  coverage of the European Championships, click here.

England in the final!

After a heroic come back the England Team is in the final of the 2009 European Championships at Conwy, Wales. Having been down, 2-0, after this morning’s foursomes England had to get at least four points out of this afternoon’s singles. Matt Haines, Sam Hutsby and Tommy Fleetwood delivered their points in style and it now came down to Dale Whitnell and Luke Goddard. After Dale Whitnell had lost on the 18th green to Norwegian Anders Kristiansson, Luke Goddard was put to the test. On the 2nd sudden death hole the Norwegian found trouble over the green of the difficult par 3 and even though he hit a great shot out of there he found his ball rolling over the green. A chip and a missed putt later Luke did not even need to hole his par putt and the match was over.

Watch Luke Goddard comment on today’s performance:

Some would say that tomorrow’s final is a dream final; England vs Scotland. Follow the final on the live scoring available here.


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