Hello again, a quick visit at the JFGA to liaise with Phil about a few exciting ideas and then off back down to Dublin airport again to meet up with the NUIM students. The mood among the lads was positive as we embarked on the annual ten days’ worth of competition and coaching.
Barry Fennelly, the Golf Programme Manager does a stellar job each year of putting together a schedule that maximises the Oceanico facilities and the daylight hours. It’s a pleasure to work with such a professional bunch of guys. The energy, structure and organisation are all top class.
After a leisurely stroll round Laguna on Friday afternoon, Saturday morning was round one of the stroke play tournament on Vilamoura Old, one of the Algarve’s most traditional and best courses. As the competition unfolded, I managed to collect some precious video footage of golf swings and body language. These would both come in useful later on in the week as evidence!
We all finished off the first competition day with bunker skills’ tests and some simple instruction, which included some ‘funky’ lies. From a coaching perspective it’s always fun to watch students unfold how a particular shot ‘works’.
The same format would be repeated on Sunday and Monday at the Pinhal and Victoria courses. One of the lovely features of this trip in particular was the variety of courses the lads competed over and had skills’ tests on. It gives good depth to the analysis and invariably it always highlights a few weaknesses that can be improved.
So after three days which included the NUIM versus Vilamoura ‘grand challenge match’, all information had been recorded and it was off up the road to the training base at Amendoeira for the hard work to begin!
Tuesday and Wednesday were deigned by Barry and myself so that the scholars would either be with me for tuition, in the gym with Tony O’Regan, having private practice time or on the golf courses playing some sort of game. The games were designed both to farther test decision making but also to encourage the students to be adaptive to the challenges. They are always enjoyed and it’s a credit to the students that they get on with it when wedges and woods are banned for nine holes!
As the week progressed, a skills score was kept with the winner being named at the end of the week. To be victorious they would have to think on their feet and solve some weird and wonderful problems. Naturally as their coach I’m always watching for who shows ‘grit’ during some of these awkward challenges.
Thursday was a well earned day off for the students and a ‘planning’ day for the staff. We all spent time looking ahead to the competitive year and also to start compiling each student’s report.
Friday and Saturday had a similar look in terms of tuition to earlier in the week, but we also incorporated the magnificent Par 3 course to test the scholar’s wedge play. What an excellent facility that we have exclusively to ourselves. The privacy of the Par 3 course meant we could spend as long as daylight hours allowed developing all sorts of ideas around the greens. Heaven!
As the trip wound down and the last of our evening seminars finished we had a bit of fun on the Saturday evening when Barry produced a short movie made up of slo motion golf swings and the body language footage that was gathered earlier in the week. The guys all took it in good humour but I could tell that it also hit home with a few of them that they could improve their on course demeanour.
Barry, myself and Tony spent Sunday reflecting with each student individually on a productive week as well as getting a feel for where each of them want to take their games. It was inspiring to listen to their aspirations and we as a team all pledged to do what we could to support their journey.
The trip finished with a relaxed dinner on Sunday night and an early spin back to Faro airport very early on Monday morning. The rain en route was good preparation to what we’d face back home.
Until next time, thanks for keeping u go date. Next stop Morocco in mid March – a new venue for me. Can’t wait!