Two really beneficial days were spent with Gareth Shaw and performance coach Fergus Wallace in France last week. Primarily the goal was to watch Gareth compete on the latest stage of the Alps Tour and monitor all the work we have been doing over the last 30 months. It gave us a chance to see Gareth ‘perform’ in his natural environment and best of all we came away with loads of ideas and video material to help us improve body language, routines, self talk etc. These are areas that Fergus and I have highlighted as real zones of potential growth and Fergus has already made a powerful impact upon, since he joined ‘Team Shaw’ earlier this year. The motivation for us to make this trip was to invest our time back into Gareth as he has been a good student and his progress as a player is visible to those who know him. We all firmly believe that he is on his way to reaching his potential and we want to do everything we can to support that. Frankly, a very exciting time for a coach.
So Wednesday was our travelling day, rising at 2am and arriving at the course at 10am! Our plan was to watch Gareth compete in the pro-am, have a look at the course in terms of strategy and scoring opportunities, some dinner with the other lads who travel with Gareth and then a full day watching the competition on Thursday, and back home later that night. And it all went according to plan…other than the speeding ticket on the way home! It also gave me a chance to catch up with Richard Kilpatrick whom I have been working with since earlier this year. ‘Reg’ is another good guy and one I fully intend to help maximise his ability.
Fergus and I could see during the pro-am that Gareth was close to playing really well and 6 ‘top 5’ finishes this year alone are evidence that he is one of the strongest players on the Alps Tour, so the only advice we gave was ‘keep doing what you are doing’! This theme of consistency also gave us the chance to observe and highlight any areas that will need to be developed as Gareth moves onto Challenge and then European Tours. We are all aware that the challenges get stricter as we move farther up the ladder. We know it will be a tough journey, but one we feel we have begun to walk and our loving the challenge.
As we watched the competition unfold, Fergus made a very valid point and one that is worth noting for any aspiring young player who wants to make the journey through tour golf with a hope of reaching the top. The ‘mini’ tours as they are called are not glamorous; they are nothing like watching the European Tour broadcast on Sky TV on a Sunday afternoon. There have only small, if any galleries, the courses and range facilities as not what you will find at a ‘main’ tour event, not a ‘players lounge’ in sight, playing for a small purse and the towns that are visited are usually small and quiet. But for me, herein lies the point of the ‘mini’ tours – they make you answer the question…’do I really want this?’ And I have never had any doubt that both Gareth and Reg will answer ‘Yes!’
Gareth had a decent 1st round of 70 (1 under) which left him with work to do if he was to challenge for the title. But as we left for home we reminded him that he has evidence of plenty of low scores this year, it was a 4 round event and that if he improved his process by even 1%, he could post some good numbers. And as it turned out, he backed up his 70, with 65, 64 and 68 for a 17 under par total and 2nd place which moved him top of the Order of Merit! Now if that isn’t someone screaming ‘I’m ready to move forward’, then what is?!
What excited us even more as we flew back and watched the scores unfold over the next few days, was that we genuinely felt we had uncovered some areas where we could promote some real improvement in his game! But the credit must go to Gareth as he is the one who has had to implement the ideas and be open enough to let us help him. I’m really happy for the guy as he has continued to battle forward, never having lost sight of his vision of where he truly wants to be. It’s great to see the hard work begin to pay off and I know there is plenty more of both ahead!
Thanks for reading and catch me again after the Dunhill Links in Scotland, never a chore to go to the Home of Golf!