SCOTS BID TO HOST 2019 SOLHEIM CUP AT GLENEAGLES

Solheim CupAs we eagerly await the 25th of this month to learn the names of the four women golfers whom Carin Koch will name as her captain’s picks for next month’s contest at St. Leon-Rot Golf Club in Germany, the excitement surrounding the event has been further increased by news that last year's Ryder Cup venue Gleneagles could host the 2019 contest after a bid was submitted to bring the tournament back to Scotland.

It is 15 years since the match play event between Europe and United States, often talked about as the women’s equivalent of The Ryder Cup, was last held in Scotland, when Scots golfer Dale Reid captained Europe to a 14½-11½ victory at the Loch Lomond Golf Club.

Bernard Murphy, managing director at Gleneagles, commented: "We would be truly honoured to welcome the Solheim Cup to Gleneagles."

GleneaglesScotland's top female golfer Catriona Matthew who has played in seven Solheim Cups described the tournament as "a special event, which is growing in profile and stature." She added, "I have no doubt that a Solheim Cup in 2019 at Gleneagles would be the biggest and best yet and further help to enhance the stature of the event and women's golf as a whole. Golf in Scotland is a national past-time and the Scottish crowds would come out to support The Solheim Cup in droves. Equally, both players and media love coming to golf events in Scotland. It is the Home of Golf and there is always that something extra every time you tee it up in a competition here."

ICE GOLF – HOW COOL IS THAT?

Have you ever heard of the World Ice Golf Championships? If you thought the 967 bunkers at Whistling Straits constituted ‘hazard hell’ then think again! Try swinging on sheet ice with a freezing wind cutting you in two and polar bears prowling on the fairway!Ice Golf Green

Ice golf is not a recent phenomenon. It dates back to the seventeenth century. A few Dutch golfers were so passionate about the game that they decided they couldn’t wait for spring to arrive and so began playing through the winter. Since that time ice golf has developed into a recognised winter sport with fans all across the globe.

A 36 hole-stroke-play competition played over two days, the first World Ice Golf Championship was played in 1997 with the front 9 holes being played in the morning and the back 9 in the afternoon on both days. The field was limited to 20 and the maximum handicap allowed was 36.

The venue for that inaugural event and for subsequent championships was Uummannaq in Greenland, six hundred kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. The course was designed on the fjord winter ice and stretched over huge icebergs. Golfers not only had to combat each other, but temperatures between -20° and -50° as well. Despite these extreme temperatures, every year, in the spring thaw, the course melted away completely, so although the venue remained constant, the course was totally different each year. It was somewhat shorter than a standard course and the hole was slightly larger. Most of the course was white, including the greens, so orange balls were used. Apart from these obvious differences, the rules themselves were basically the same as those laid down by the R&A.

Unfortunately, climate change has meant the ice has become too thin to play on and the last time the Championship was held was back in 2006.

However, that has not meant the death of the sport. Indeed it is very much alive and kicking in the USA and the invitation to play in the 2016 tournament to be held on Lake Inguadona, Minnesota in January, described as "a 2-person team scramble" is currently open.

MODERN POPULIST GOLF HAS ITS ROOTS IN THE 15TH CENTURY

3735752973_0b6eba37c9_mWe might be tempted to think that today’s populist adaptations of the traditional game of golf, such as those that I have featured in previous posts [StreetGolf, SpeedGolf, FootGolf and BeachGolf] are ground-breaking and original in their conception, but actually a trip to the British Golf Museum is all that is needed to put the record straight!

It appears that in 15th-century Scotland there were two distinct versions of golf: one played by the nobles and elites, and a second played by the commoners, not on areas of land designed specifically for the purpose, but within churchyards and out on the streets.

Assimilating the fascinating information and exhibits on display, one quickly realises that this 15th-century shorter, less ruly version had much in common with some of the ‘modern alternatives’ on offer today. All of them are attempts to make the game appealing to ‘the man in the street’, to ordinary folk who may well feel excluded by the traditional longer version of the game.

Short golf was usually played on Sundays and festival days when country folk converged on the towns. The precise rules are unknown and were probably something of a movable feast! Players used a single club, and the consumption of alcohol was commonplace, so behaviour was often spirited!

A perusal of the rules of StreetGolf makes this similarity, in terms of fluid rules, quickly apparent. Here are a few just to prove the point: respect the urban environment and the public; do not disturb traffic on the roadway; use soft balls; always look around you before swinging your club (we recommend playing in groups); the player who has already hit his ball must go to the reception area (green or fairway) to make sure the area is safe before the second player plays; the first hole is decided jointly by all players; the target of the second hole is set by the winning team.

Back in the 15th century, ‘long golf’ (the ancestor of our modern game, played on lengthy courses in accordance with an extensive set of rules) prevailed – mainly owing to the fact that, over a period of time, Scottish kings and Parliament issued various edicts banning short golf. They considered it to be a nuisance and thought that it distracted the common man from practicing his archery, which they felt was vital for the nation's defence. The Protestant church also played its part by condemning any kind of fun on the Sabbath!

The privileged gentry continued to play ‘long golf’ in parkland fields and on links land near the sea. The fact that long golf required a player to use multiple clubs and expensive balls placed it beyond the pocket of the common man. However, as Scotland’s economy prospered, tradesmen began playing long golf alongside their superiors. This was made possible in Scotland because most links land was common land, which no one could own, and to which all had equal access.

It is very illuminating that well into the 18th century a different variety of short golf coexisted with long golf. Less wealthy golfers couldn’t afford the expensive hand-crafted clubs and balls required to threaten the longest holes, and for this reason many courses maintained shorter golf loops for the more miserly equipped.

Trump NationalPersonally speaking, I think it is vitally important that we continue this process of making golf accessible to all, irrespective of gender or background, and that the influence of people like Donald Trump is to be resisted. Ever a controversial figure, he is on record as saying: ‘Maybe golf doesn’t need to be for everyone; it’s an aspirational sport, something you aspire to play someday if you get rich enough.’ and his Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey is intentionally and unashamedly elitist.

The divide between long golf and short golf continues to stem, at least in part, from the kind of equipment issues previously mentioned. Modern equipment is scientifically engineered with great precision and custom fitted so that, not only is it expensive (and out of reach for many), it has enabled players to hit the ball further and further. Consequently, many courses, have spent vast sums of money lengthening holes, relocating fairway bunkers and the like. These adaptations, along with the ever more stringent standards being demanded of course maintenance, are raising the cost of golf and contributing to yet another drop in the numbers of working people playing the traditional ‘long’ version of the game.

It is ‘short golf’, the game of the people, that is being revived by today's golf alternatives, and I would include the increasingly popular indoor golf facilities, like the one shown below, offering driving ranges with electronic scoring, analytical feedback and the opportunity to play a host of virtual courses, all with a lounge-like atmosphere. So, this new breed of short golf formats that some people are hailing as the future of golf are, in a sense, little more than a re-branding exercise that stems from roots firmly planted in the past.

TopGolfThe latest breed of driving ranges with concentric-ring targets and automatic electronic scoring, may be seen as a modern counterpart to 15th century short golf. They don’t require much space, just like the street and churchyard golf back then, and alcohol is usually part of the deal. I have spent many an enjoyable couple of hours or so at just such an indoor facility. Sometimes I play a ‘virtual round’ on a top Championship course and sometimes I just practice.

The Topgolf UK website describes its product as “the premier golf entertainment complex where the competition of sport meets your favourite local bar. You can challenge your friends and family to addictive point-scoring golf games that anyone from the hopeful pro golfer to your 7-year-old cousin can play all year-round.”

“Just picture a 240-yard outfield with dartboard-like targets in the ground. The closer to the centre or “bull’s-eye” you get and the further you hit your microchipped balls, the more points you get. Score even bigger with Topgolf’s extensive food and drink menu, served to you by one of our bayhosts.”

In my experience, the targets Topgolf incorporate focus your concentration far better than the normal ranges do. Also, the scoring system not only creates a fun, competitive atmosphere, it brings a sense of pressure as you try to beat your best score (valuable 8199133433_3071dbe996_m4922320119_4c79d079c3_mfor the more serious golfer). Topgolf is proving to be a good family activity, but, just as importantly, it is emerging as a young person’s entertainment, both sporting and social. “One more round” is as likely to mean more drinks as more balls!

My brother-in-law is fast becoming a FootGolf fan, in which one brings the skills of football to an adapted golf course that is shorter than a standard golf course, with some being not unlike the ‘short golf” alternative loops at courses like Leith and Musselburgh all those years ago.

How all this will pan out is anybody’s guess. Can we learn anything from post-Packer cricket? Cricket has successfully spawned two distinct versions of the game: Test Match and T20 formats, each with its own distinctive appeal. Might we one day see a brand of competitive golf played over 9 holes? Or might golf take a lead from tennis and introduce competitive mixed foursomes/fourballs?

The ultimate “short golf” game may yet prove to be simulator golf, which is increasingly realistic and already wildly popular in countries where space is at a premium, like South Korea and Japan and which allows us to ‘virtually play’ the world’s top courses for a tiny fraction of what, in reality, it would cost us. [Interestingly, part of Jordan Spieth’s preparation for this year’s Open Championship was getting to know the Old Course by playing it on a simulator in Dallas!]

Whatever the future of the sport holds, historically golf has always kept a place at its table for the common man and it must remain ever thus. Golf is a game that everyone can enjoy, irrespective of age and gender, and its handicap system means that any pairing can experience a truly competitive round. Put simply, it is too good a game for it ever to become the sole preserve of the privileged few.

 

PHASE 3: EFFECTIVE PRACTICE

Seve BallesterosGolf is a game not a pure art form – although admittedly artistry can play its part, as Seve Ballesteros (see right) illustrates perfectly!

You are seeking lower scores not ‘the perfect swing’.

Your first step is to understand the current status of your game - its strengths and weaknesses. Play a minimum of 5 rounds in which you record your key statistics. [See my July post.]

Make sure that you understand the biomechanical demands of what you are trying to achieve and your body’s capacity for performing them. [Use our free-to-download Self-Assessment Tests in order to identify shortfall and then use the relevant conditioning programme(s). Again, see my previous post.]

2015 CalendarPlan your practice programme in consultation with your teaching professional, so that it properly dovetails with your technical skills lessons. The ideal interval between lessons is two weeks (so a typical 12 week programme should contain 5-6 lessons).

Plan the first ‘cycle’ of your programme [which should include an integration of lessons, practice and play]. Make sure that you take account of other commitments and, once formulated, diarise your sessions and set reminders on your phone etc. to help you commit to the programme.

Every practice session should be specific and deliberate. You should have a single objective and a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve and why. (Relevance and purpose.)

Make a clear distinction between practice sessions that are geared towards making game improvement changes to your swing technique and those that are improving execution/performance. In fact there are 4 distinct types of practice:

  1. Technical practice: (working on swing mechanics). This type of practice requires a lot of correct repetitions to ‘bed in’ a specific position or movement pattern. It can be done at home: indoors in front of a mirror, or outdoors in front of patio doors (always without a ball). Work on one move at a time and break the movement pattern down into a series of positions. Practice ‘hitting each of these positions separately, but in sequence, until you can ‘hit’ each one accurately and ‘instinctively’. If you hold positions for 30 seconds to get ‘feedback feel’, it trains the body to ‘hit’ the position and enhances recognition when you ‘miss’ it. Then progress to moving between positions in super-slow motion [building up to a maximum of half-speed.] If you possess one, use a video camera when swinging at higher speeds and then make use of the slow motion playback and freeze-frame facilities to check for technical accuracy [feel v real]. Only use drills provided by, or approved by, your instructor to ensure that they will actively accelerate your progress toward your goal.
  2. Game practice: this involves playing game-type challenges with measurable results in order to test and improve your skills and provide feedback on your progress. Re-create game situational challenges, which you should perform with minimal technical thoughts and ‘a target focus’. On the range hit to different targets and use different clubs. Make sure that you pick a ‘micro’ target to aim for and always remember to incorporate your full pre-shot routine for every shot you hit. [Remember that you’re not practising to hit good shots on the range, but in a round of golf when the pressure is on. This is when your dominant habits will re-surface, so make sure they are good ones.] Play an imaginary hole that you have problems with, or an entire round by visualising your course. Discuss appropriate possibilities with your instructor, who should have plenty of alternatives for you to experiment with.
  3. Skill practice: developing different skills that will further enhance your ability to control the ball and help with by visualising different on-course situations and future competitions in your arm-chair at home; then, on the range, try mentally recreating them by way of practical preparation.
  4. Rehearsal practice: begin by visualising successful negotiation of different on-course situations and then prepare for them practically by mentally recreating them on the range.

The ideal duration of both a lesson and a practice session is one hour. [After that time, you will lose a degree of focus, which means that you run the risk of rehearsing imperfect technique and ingraining flawed habits.]

The optimal amount of practice between lessons is somewhere between 6-8 hours. [Any more than that increases the danger of you losing focus and regressing to old habits, with no teacher there to correct you.]

Make sure that you schedule a monthly ‘set-up MOT’ – this is best done at the start of every alternate lesson, so that your teaching pro can check it properly. [Doing it yourself in front of a mirror is less than exact – especially in the early stages.]

Schedule in the odd week off. (You need to avoid getting stale and maintain high levels of enthusiasm.)

Actually playing golf must form part of your programme. Remember the quest is not for perfect technique (if there is such a thing), but for lower scores. BUT when playing, you must be in ‘trust mode’ with no thought given to swing mechanics. Your focus must be totally target oriented as you learn to trust your swing to get the ball there.

Avoid match-play and stick to a stroke-play format, where every stroke counts and has a consequence.

At the end of each ‘cycle’ chart a couple of rounds. [This will not only provide feedback on progress made, but also indicate areas for future improvement.]

DRUGS IN GOLF?

Why are the R&A and the PGA still failing to comply with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Standards? What are they afraid of?

Thomas BachThomas Bach, 2016 Olympic President, has been openly critical of the PGA for a lack of transparency in its anti-doping policy, and insisted that all golfers competing in the Olympics will have to be WADA compliant. To date, the response from golf’s governing body has been muted, to say the least!

The PGA does have an anti-doping programme, but in most people’s eyes it is not as stringent as the world code. Ten classes of drugs are banned (including anabolic steroids, hormones, narcotics and beta blockers) but two substances in the WADA list (glucocorticosteroids and Beta-2-Agonists) are not included because executives don’t believe that they enhance a golfer's performance.

Thirteen weeks before the 2016 Games in Rio, participating Olympic players will automatically be required to comply with that world code, because the tournament in Brazil – the first Olympic golf competition since 1904 – will operate under the International Golf Federation’s (IGF) anti-doping policy, which is WADA compliant.

The IOC President said: “They will have the same conditions like all the athletes. There will be random testing. There will be target testing. With regard to the anti-doping programme, it is clear that the athletes will have to accept the Olympic standards during the next year prior to the Games, and of course during the Games.” That means, for instance, that during the Games the top five finishers will be tested in addition to the random testing and targeted testing during the Games.

Bach went on to say: “Prior to the Games and from now on, I can only encourage the PGA Tour to follow the WADA code, and finally to accept the WADA code and to be compliant with this, so that you have a harmonised anti-doping regime for all the golf players and that you have an equal level of playing field.”

In practical terms, that would mean that all golfers would need to give details of their whereabouts at all times and consent to being blood-tested, with any positive samples being made public. The PGA Tour’s current policy is only to disclose details of any decision-making following drug infringements, if the infringement is regarded as performance-enhancing. Bans for recreational drug use are not made public and only three Tour players have been sanctioned for use of performance-enhancing drugs since 2008.

Tim FinchemDespite these discrepancies, Tim Finchem, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, seems unmoved and still insists: “The doping programme we have is the best in our sport globally.” He has persistently denied there has been any evidence that professional golfers have taken any performance-enhancing drugs. Recently, however, he has faced mounting pressure from other world organisations – and a number of players (including Tiger Woods) – urging him to change his mind. "But for the problems in other sports, I doubt we would be at this point," he said during a conference with the leaders of six major golf organizations.

The International Golf Federation has released its own statement in which it says: “Olympic golf will operate under our anti-doping policy, which is WADA compliant. This will come into effect 13 weeks out from the Olympic Games in Rio. In 2016, for the period from May 6th through to the conclusion of the Olympic Games there will be a registered testing pool, created and managed by the IGF, and male and female golfing athletes will be subject to both urine and blood tests for substances on the WADA prohibited list.”

Peter DawsonPeter Dawson, outgoing chief executive of the R&A, commented, “I would certainly urge that golf moves towards being WADA compliant at all times and right across the world, and I think the game of golf is working towards that.” He did however make a point of saying that, “It’s still my belief that we don’t have a major drug problem of any kind in the game of golf.”

Legends of Golf in Savannah, GA April 19, 2010While it seems that the R&A and the PGA are quite content to procrastinate (thus appearing at best to be indecisive and at worst to be indifferent about the subject), Gary Player is not nearly so reticent. He is on record as saying that he personally knows that some golfers are using drugs: "Whether it's HGH, Creatine, or steroids, I know for a fact that some golfers are doing it," he said.

When asked at a press conference why the R&A does not have drug testing at the British Open and whether he was concerned that its winner could be using steroids, Dawson rather lamely replied, "I don't know if Gary Player is right about golfers being on drugs, frankly, so I really can't comment. One thing I do know is that we're not drug testing here at the Open championship this week, so just how that would be identified, I'm not sure."

So, let’s take a reality check. Relatively recently, one of golf’s top players failed his third drug test in five years. The same player competed at last month’s Open Championship, where there was clearly no testing in operation. Does that suggest that those charged with governance of golf should extract their heads from the sand and squarely face up to the kind of issues that get athletes in most other sports lengthy, if not lifetime bans? Are we being overly sceptical to wonder whether their failure to act decisively and vigorously has anything to do with economics? – After all, there's a lot of money to be made from those at the very top of the game. Could that be why there seems to be a reluctance to rock the boat?

14593885027_0dd4a0cc91_m7818775672_c63fc18482_mAll this comes at a time when other governing bodies (cycling and athletics being very public examples) are repeatedly and openly addressing drug-related incidents and attempting to clean up their respective sports. Surely someone in a position of authority within the game of golf has to step up to the plate, and quickly!

It may well be that golf doesn't have a “major drug problem”, but how will we ever know until proper testing is routinely employed. Can the R&A and PGA each continue to justify its current position: one rule for golf and another for everyone else?

U.S. Open Golf Practice Round June 13,  2011Can it continue to cultivate the code of silence with which it once helped to cover up Tiger's indiscretions? When Dustin Johnson failed to appear to defend his title at the World Golf Championship in Shanghai, following all the media speculation about his "off-course issues", the PGA remained tight-lipped about where he was and the reasons for his non-appearance.

The European Tour, meanwhile, have practiced random drug-testing since July 2008, but will not disclose which tournaments are targeted by testers, or how often drug testing is carried out. When drug testing occurs, samples are taken from 10 to 15 per cent of the field and are carried out by an external company, Independent Drug Test Management. The European Tour also use results from drug tests taken during tournaments on the PGA Tour, and claim that this negates the need to take as many tests themselves, which they say would "inconvenience" players who play on both sides of the Atlantic.

U.S. Open Golf Practice Round June 15,  2011[6] Tiger WoodsThis discrepancy between the two tours is reflected in separate comments made by Tiger Woods and Justin Rose. Woods revealed that on average he’s tested about five times a year on the PGA Tour: “We get regularly tested throughout the year… like five times. That’s usually about the number for most guys.” While Justin Rose made the startling admission in 2013 that he had never taken a drugs test while competing on the European Tour.

It has been claimed that drugs cannot enhance a golfer’s performance in the way that they can in sports such as athletics, cycling and football. A drug cannot help a golfer hit a putt straight, they say. Maybe, maybe not. However, as the sport’s top stars develop ever more powerful physiques in search of increased swing speed, does it not seem naïve to ignore the issue?

PHASE 2: TECHNICAL SKILLS COACHING

Never approach technical skills instruction in a piecemeal fashion, which is is completely counter-productive. Taking the odd lesson now and then from different teaching professionals is a total waste of time. Over time, the mind gets cluttered with different swing theories, movement patterns and positions with little or no holistic vision or feel. Furthermore, it's important to avoid compounding the problem further by also trying to assimilate a multitude of tips from golfing magazines and internet videos (the majority of which are probably wholly inappropriate for your current level of ability) or, even worse, misguided tips from your various playing partners. If you do, you will end up with a patchwork quilt type of swing, made up of countless ‘Band-Aid fixes’ with failing adhesive strips!

Is it any wonder that this type of approach yields no lasting, positive outcomes? So, what is the answer?

  1. Assess your current playing abilities – spend time getting to know your key statistics and recording them over a minimum of 5 rounds: fairways hit; GIR; putts per round; up and downs %; sand saves %; and scoring average. This will pinpoint which parts of your game are most in need of improvement.
  2. Have a clear, realistic idea of what it is you want to achieve from your game-improvement effort. Outline your short- and long-term goals.
  3. You need to believe that you can play to the level you aspire to AND so does the teaching professional of your choice.
  4. Despite its convenience, don’t simply use the teaching professional attached to the club where you play.
  5. Research the professionals in your area. Check whether they have the requisite qualifications and experience to take your game to the level you desire. Ask friends and playing partners if they would recommend any instructors they have used. Ask them about pricing, reputation, location, and how much they improved under his/her tutelage. Ask about their use of the latest technologies and methodologies. Ask whether they provide timely communication and feedback in a personal way and any digital content is in a format that suits you. Most importantly, be sure that the instructor has a history of creating positive results for clients.
  6. Call the instructor and ask if he or she is prepared to meet you. A good instructor should be happy to get to know you as an individual, talk to you about your current game and your improvement goals and also allow you to observe a lesson.
  7. Ensure that there is a good fit between you and your instructor in terms of personality, your goals, beliefs about the game and how it should be played, and, crucially, your instructor's ability to relate to your individual needs (which includes your preferred learning styles) and adapt their teaching accordingly.
  8. Agree and commit to a programme of lessons, including playing lessons out on the course (course management is a crucial element of playing good golf).
  9. Make sure that your clubs are properly suited to both your physical stature and your game with a custom fitting session before you start lessons.
  10. Have an open mindset and be prepared to start where it counts with your short game. A round of golf is not a series of full swings. Remember that 70% of your round will be played from within 90yds. Therefore if your aim is to lower your scores, then your programme of lessons has to include short game lessons.
  11. Agree a plan of action with your chosen instructor that allows for a blend of instruction, effective, purposeful practice and playing golf. [Playing golf must form part of any game-improvement strategy – the quest is not for perfect technique, but for lower scores.]
  12. Incorporate a monthly ‘set-up MOT’ into your strategy – even the very best regularly check their fundamentals!

The good news is that most people have the natural ability (talent) to play well, but do not develop it properly. To improve, you need a clear strategy along with the requisite desire, commitment, patience and perseverance.

While there are few game-improvement guarantees when it comes to golf, I guarantee that if you can fall in love with the PROCESS of improvement, you will find out just how good you can become. The satisfaction is in the striving.

Remember what I said in a previous post: – “Do what is right, not what is easy.”

ADVANCED APPRENTICESHIP in SPORTING EXCELLENCE in GOLF (AASE)

England Golf The AASE in Golf aims to support young golfers (16-19) who have the realistic potential to achieve golfing excellence and are seeking to perform at the highest level as their main career goal.

The programme is a two year elite athlete development initiative designed to support young, talented, male and female athletes in achieving their maximum potential in the sport.

It is exclusively available to those young people who have demonstrated the necessary talent and skill required to suggest that they have a realistic chance to make a career from playing golf, either for England or as a playing professional.

There are 15 England Golf endorsed FE colleges offering the AASE golf programme.

If, for whatever reason, an England Golf AASE Academy route isn't deemed to be appropriate, ‘England Futures’ is an alternative programme that allows young players to access the benefits of AASE.English Golf Union logo

‘England Futures’, launched jointly between the English Golf Union and English Women’s Golf Association, aims to provide targeted support to England’s most talented young golfers.

Any player who is selected to be a part of the ‘England Futures’ programme must possess the drive, commitment and discipline to do their level best within their golf training and they must be dedicated enough to ensure that they complete all the modules in full.

In return the England Futures player will receive top class coaching from specially selected England coaches, a complete package of sports science support including biomechanics, strength & conditioning and psychological training, as well as additional resources towards competition and tournament expenses.

English Womens' Golf AssociationPeter Mattsson the Director of Coaching at the English Golf Union has recognised the role that this programme could play in the development of an aspiring elite golfer.

And it’s not just for the boys, The England Golf Partnership is specifically looking to encourage more girls to participate in the scheme something that Linda Bayman, Performance Director at the English Women’s Golf Association is keen to stress: -

“The scheme is ideal for girls looking to further their careers in the game at a time when they are put under pressure to follow an educational pathway. AASE is the best of both worlds, education, leading to a career or a place at university coupled with a golf training programme which could lead to a life as a professional.”

Summary of the AASE in Golf Provision

Physical Resources

  • Full membership of an approved golf club • Unlimited access to fit-for-purpose practice facilities • Access to a suitable facility for fitness training • Opportunities for warm weather training

Human Resources

  • A minimum of 60 coaching sessions per year • 240 guided practice sessions per year • Individualised coaching programmes designed to meet the player’s needs • Coaches work with a player’s personal coach where appropriate • Sports psychology support • Physiological and nutritional support • Physical screening and feedback time • Access to a mentor/assessor • Opportunity to meet with a careers advisor and support with any applications to Higher Education

Educational Resources

  • Flexible learning options, A-Levels, AS Levels, BTEC etc. to meet a student’s career aspirations • All academies are linked to approved educational establishments • Support in planning and developing their careers both within and outside the sport • Where relevant, support with UCAS applications

Competitions

  • Support in managing competitive schedules • Provision of regular competitive opportunities as part of the college team • Support with competition expenses for those players that are able to play in elite level amateur competitions

List of Colleges Offering AASE in Golf:

Brockenhurst College, Brockenhurst, Hampshire SO42 7ZE, UK

Easton College, Norwich, Norfolk NR9 5DX, UK

Filton College, Bristol, South Gloucestershire BS34 7AT, UK

Gateshead College, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear NE8 3BE, UK

Hartpury College, Gloucester, Gloucestershire GL19 3BE, UK

Leeds City College, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS14 5LS, UK

Moulton College, Northampton, Northamptonshire NN3 7RR, UK

Myerscough College, Preston, Lancashire PR3 0RY, UK

Richard Huish College, Taunton, Taunton, Somerset TA1 3DZ, UK

Richmond College, Twickenham, Twickenham, Greater London TW2 7SJ, UK

Solihull College, Solihull, West Midlands B91 1SB, UK

South Devon College, Paignton, Paignton, Torbay TQ4 7EJ, UK

Sussex Downs College, Lewes, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 2XH, UK

Worthing College, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 1NS, UK

 

THE NEXT GENERATION

Luke DonaldLuke Donald, now 37 years of age, was world No.1 four years ago, but following a loss of form in recent the last couple of years, is currently ranked as low as 66th

That meant he was not guaranteed a place in the field at Chambers Bay for the second major of the season (June 18-21).

Luke just about sneaked through qualifying at the Bear’s Club in Florida. An even-par 72 in the morning round, meant he was in serious danger of not making it, but an afternoon 68, which included seven birdies, saw him finish top of the leader board alongside Andrew Pope and Jack Maguire.Lee Westwood

Lee Westwood announced earlier this month that he was “feeling old”. Maybe it’s time for a 'changing of the guard' in English golf?

Eddie24-year-old Eddie Pepperell (3rd) and 28-year-old Danny Willet (6th) both recently impressed in the Irish Open. Danny also currently stands second in the Race to Dubai Rankings (see left).

Tom Murray 2Also, the as yet little known youngster, Tom Murray, (right) a member at Headingley Golf Club, this week broke his home course record, carding a superb 63 to win his club's Scratch  36 Hole Medal. Although ‘one swallow doth not a summer make’, he may well be one to keep an eye out for in the next few years.

It took an exciting 5-way sudden death play-off on Buckinghamshire GC’s par-3 ninth, to determine the final two qualifying spots for next month’s US Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club, with 21 year-old Lauren Taylor from Woburn and Kylie Walker from Mar Hall finally booking their place.

Lauren TaylorLauren commented afterwards, “It couldn’t have gone better. I finished birdie, birdie and then to go into a play-off and birdie the hole was really fun.” Although some might consider her a bit of an expert when it comes to play-offs, having won both of her LET titles last year in similar circumstances, Kylie Walker spoke of the pressure she felt. “I tried to control my nerves and the tee shot was fine but when I realised this was to make the US Women’s Open I tried to get that shot out of my mind. It was a nice fist pump at the end.”

Previously, England’s Holly Aitchison (left) with rounds of 72 and 68, along with Scotland’s Heather MacRae, who followed up a rather disappointing 75 with a scintillating final round of 65, had qualified outright. Holly, who birdied the last three holes, commented: “Everyone wants to play in a major and this is going to be my first major outside of Britain. It’s going to be a really, really good experience and I’m very much looking forward to it.”

PHASE ONE: DO WHAT IS RIGHT, NOT WHAT IS EASY

A golfer who wants to perfect his swing before addressing any physical shortcomings he may have that inhibit his ability to do so, might as well be trying to become a virtuoso trumpet player while still suffering from chronic asthma.

The only way your golfing dream can come true, is if you wake up. If you are like the majority of golfers, you probably need to wake up to the fact that golf is a sport and any sport is played by athletes. All athletes who want to improve their performance must be prepared to work on both their sport-specific fitness and their technique.

The best, if not the only, way to go about achieving real game-improvement with a carefully-planned, sequential programme of (i) physical conditioning (ii) technical skills coaching (iii) effective practice.

Dr Bob Rotella“Most swing flaws are actually owing to stiffness or weakness in some part(s) of the body. Improvement can be achieved simply by getting stronger and/or more flexible.” – Dr Bob Rotella.

[9] ETPI LogoThe European Tour Performance Institute recognises the importance of the above and screens promising young golfers to assess their physical fitness for golf and then provides them with a personalised conditioning programme based on the results obtained.

It is equally important that you too understand the current status of your golf specific fitness and then work to strengthen any areas of weakness and eradicate any areas of inflexibility.

TestsAccordingly, it is vital that you first evaluate the current status of your golf fitness by undertaking a properly designed screening programme that will pinpoint any areas of insufficient flexibility and/or strength.

Then you need to make a conscious decision and commitment to act on the data you obtain.

However, it is not enough to understand what needs to be done, you must also understand how to go about achieving it. This is where, as you will see, Fitter Golfers comes into the equation.

You should download our free self-assessments for the upper and lower body, which come with a comprehensive set of norms against which you can measure your results. Having pinpointed any areas for improvement, you can then select the appropriate conditioning modules to effect the necessary physical changes.

The Fitter Golfers conditioning modules are carefully designed to improve both mobility and flexibility in the ankles, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, arms/wrists and neck, along with further modules to improve balance and posture, enabling you to select only the modules that are relevant to your needs.

So that you appreciate the relevance of each exercise, we explain how each individual shortfall will potentially impact on the swing and the swing benefits to be obtained from improving physical capacity in that area.

Our overall aim is to ensure that when you take lessons, you will be much better able to perform the positions and techniques recommended to you and reap full benefit from your instruction, thus getting a better return on the time and money that you invest.

In my next post I will talk about how best to go about complementing your conditioning work by planning your technical skills coaching with a teaching professional via a programme of lessons.

 

Condition Your Body For Excellence – Not Your Mind or Disappointment

[29] Rory McIlroy  All professional players engage in extensive exercise programmes to acquire the strength and flexibility to perform at their best.

“I take my physical fitness very seriously… it helps me to be a better player.” – Rory McIlroy

Equally, if you can’t move your body freely into the key swing positions, it won’t help you to learn them. Whatever your age, you can use our golf specific programmes to help you train, practice and master the most critical moves in the golf swing.

Condition your body for excellence – not your mind for disappointment!

 

Lesson

Now, improving your golfing fortunes needn’t cost you one – it can be done for less than the price of a lesson!

New ClubAn investment in our complete Foundation programme can cost less that the price of a new club and is much more likely to help you to improve your game and lower your handicap – it really is a no-brainer!