Hi, bright blue skies were the order of the week as the tour moved into Wentworth for one of the most prestigious tournaments of the year – the PGA. This event has everything – a world class field, a famous course with a modern twist, affluence and played at the home of the European Tour.
I arrived at the course Monday afternoon to meet with Jamie Gough and Gareth Maybin to continue the good work we have been doing which has helped Gareth to a steady run of results, with a 7th place finish in Spain on his last outing. Monday’s objectives are all about continuity and feedback from the player from the last competitive event or in Gareth’s case, his last two weeks practise at home. Together we spent a few very productive hours on the range working with Jamie’s latest toy – Flightscope. This radar based device, similar to Trackman provides ‘point 1’ feedback on ball flight. Of the most interest to us was club face and path direction at impact. This info, once translated by Jamie and I really helps the player understand what actually makes the ball fly the way it does! In other words – fact, not feels!
The rest of the evening was spent walking the course with Gareth, Jamie and caddie Basil to get a feel for conditions and to observe some swings on the course. A coach can learn a lot about a player by seeing him play the course rather than the familiarity of the range. These on course sessions are very useful for testing clubs, figuring out strategy, checking any course changes, testing sand and fringes etc.
One good aspect of working at the PGA is that it seems to be a meeting place for so many people involved in tournament golf – players, caddies, officials, coaches, managers…you name it, they will be on the range at some stage. It gives the opportunity to meet some old friends and make some new ones as well. The former was the case when I bumped into Richy Elliot, now caddying for Ben Curtis. In only the 10 minutes I spoke to him, he must’ve been congratulated five times on his recent success! Richy is a genuinely good guy who deserves the praise.
Wednesday morning was mainly about putting the finishing touches to what we had been developing with Gareth since Monday and making sure he was 100% clear as to what he was trying to achieve both short & long term. He is usually very good at refining down what is needed in time for the start line on Thursday morning.
The week was also a benefit to me personally as I got a chance to spend some time with Michael Bannon – Rory McIlroy’s life long coach. What a pleasant and interesting man. He shared some of his thoughts on the game with me and gave me a few words of encouragement about dealing with talented juniors, as the JFGA is starting to develop some really skilful kids. Another high light was meeting and watching Richard Sterne practise (pictured left). He is one of Jamie’s students and a quality ball striker – such a simple motion but the sound of the strike tells you all you need to know!
All in all, a really enjoyable and beneficial week in wonderful weather! Looks like my next trip will be Portrush for the Irish Open – can’t wait!