Hi, late January proved a great time to escape the Irish winter and make the JFGA’s second visit in the last three years to the European Tour’s Desert Swing and check out the latest European Tour event. Two years ago it was Dubai, this year Abu Dhabi – and what a week it was given the quality of the field, condition of the course and the fortunate opportunities if offered the me. My travelling companion this time was Prof Eric Wallace (UU) which was great in itself as it gave me the chance to pick Eric’s brain on the finer points of the swing’s mechanics.
Top of the weeks’ memories was undoubtedly the afternoon I got to spend with Bret Rumford as we shared ideas about the short game. It was an education and a half – well worth the airfare alone. Most importantly for me was the fact that we agreed on about 90% of one another’s concepts, although I will admit that ‘Rummy’ did refine one or two of my ideas with some ridiculously good demonstrations!! It was a rare learning treat and on that I am very thankful.
This tournament seemed to have an extra buzz around it, both in terms of media presence and atmosphere. The entry list provided the explanation – all top 4 players in the world and a certain ‘TW’. Having range access is a privledge normally but on Wednesday morning it was a like having a front row seat to golfing perfection! I had the honour of watching Tiger conduct his entire warm up session right before my eyes. I can tell you he showed me the true meaning of ‘total ball control’. It was awesome in the full sense of the word. He went through the bag from wedges to driver, and then went back to an 8 iron which he shaped the ball with in all directions, warmed down by hitting some pitches, then finished by playing an imaginary 1st tee shot. It came as no surprise that he repeated the exact same shot on the 1st tee as he had on the rage some 15 minutes previously.
Power, accuracy, repeatability…it had the lot. It was honestly the first time I had watched a golf ball leave the club out of the same ‘window’ every single shot. And I’v been lucky enough to watch all the best players of the last 20 years including Tiger a number of times. The only weakness I could detect in his armoury was the speeding up of the tempo when he got to the course with the driver. The rest was excellence personified.
On the Saturday evening, just before I left, I got to spend an interesting hour with Michael Hoey as he asked me my thoughts on how to play from the ‘claggy’ rough around the greens onto the firm, fast putting surfaces. I gave him my views and it was a good experience for me to watch him put them into practice and take some feedback. Always learning!
This session with Michael again highlighted to me the variety and understanding of different grasses and playing conditions I need to be an effective coach of tour players as their ‘office’ changes every week. The Tour keeps moving folks, so if you enjoy reading about the JFGAs’ excursions then check out my next visit to sunny Spain in late March.