Hi, what a week at Portrush! It’s definitely the first time I have ever heard so many positive comments about an event and more especially about a golf course. Well done to everyone involved. Unfortunately the week wasn’t all highs for the JFGA players but it was great experience and another step along the road to success. The course looked magnificent, the crowds were enormous and the weather was typically Irish – a lively mix!
Monday morning started early with Damien Mooney, a long time JFGA student. Mainly it was about checking some address basics and getting a ‘feel’ for the shots around the green. The facilities this week made grooming all the little ‘touch’ shots close to the green easy and we spent a very productive time making sure Damien was happy with all scoring shots. A quiet afternoon also gave us the chance to walk some holes together and see how the course was playing. The new tees really have given the links a modern dimension and I’m certain it could more than handle an Open Championship.
Tuesday was another long day spent with Niall Kearney and Paul Cutler. Again, making sure they were happy with what they were trying to achieve long term in their swings, figuring out best course management, tinkering a little with equipment and honing the short game. It proved a really fun day in the company of two good players on a course that’s a really fair test of golf. Couldn’t be better! The day ended on a good note as well when I had the pleasure of having dinner again with Jamie Gough and an assortment of other coaches. Good food with good people! It’s really interesting to hear the thoughts of other coaches on a variety of subjects. It reminds you that there is plenty more to learn.
Wednesday is always final preparation day when I find myself saying less and observing more as the player takes charge of what is needed for the tournament and also refines down what has been worked on to the bare essentials. A typical day again starts early with some short game and range time spent with each player followed by walking a few holes in the pro am if they are playing in it. This was exactly the case with Paul Cutler with whom I had the traditional ‘short game challenge’ before his afternoon tee time. These games along with imagining and playing certain holes from the course on the range are an excellent way to spend a few hours during final preparation that lets the coach see how the player is dealing with a little pressure and also ‘mentally’ warms the player up before competition starts.
My role during the tournament itself is mainly to observe the warm ups, watch a few holes during the rounds and be on hand for any work that’s needed during the evenings. Although none of the lads survived the cut, Paul coming closest (70, 74) it was more good experience for them and I got to see a lot of on course play which will help guide our journey. Honestly, I can say that they are all better players now than a year ago. So all in all, a very beneficial week from the JFGA’s perspective.
The week finished off with some interesting media work for me. I was asked by Joel Taggart to do the ‘end of day’ section along with him for Radio Ulster! It was a great thrill and I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially meeting European Tour ‘Supremo’ George O’Grady. Thanks for the opportunity Joel and I look forward to doing it again.
Thanks for reading and please check out my next post which will be in a couple of weeks from The Scottish Open when I will be working closely with Jamie Gough and his stable of players!