When Walker Cup captain Nigel Edwards was appointed England Golf’s Director of Coaching in 2012, he brought with him the determination to succeed that he has exhibited throughout his golfing career. He, and his team, wants to develop the next generation of elite golfers, and winning is the core of their philosophy. Everything is geared towards reducing the number of shots played on the course.
This has meant a change in culture at England Golf. The emphasis has been placed upon the creation of ‘golf athletes’. “We need to ensure a more physical approach to golf, with players becoming athletes, as opposed to golfers. In the quest for game improvement, the focus has become the driving forwards of world-class athletes.
This athleticism is creating a generation of elite young golfers, vital if England Golf is to keep up with the competition. “There’s so many people out there now, giving 100%, that if you aren’t, you’re going to fall behind,” Edwards explained. “If you can look in the mirror and say ‘I got the most out of myself today’, then you are going in the right direction.”
Pleasingly, the ladies’ game is no different, with the girls proving as eager to develop their abilities as their male counterparts and at England Golf, boys and girls are treated as equals, with girls undertaking the same performance programme, giving them the best opportunity to become elite players.
Edwards recognises the need to balance golf specific physical conditioning with technical skills coaching [which is at the heart of the Fitter Golfers philosophy] and that no matter how much time is spent in the gym or eating the correct foods, it will never be a substitute for practice. “If you are not going to practise, you can’t expect to get better… Our focus will always be on putting, short game and wedge play…enhancing young players’ talents and maximising their scoring opportunities.”
It’s a lesson that many club golfers would do well to learn from when designing their practice, as Ryan Evans, a former student, endorsed after his professional tournament debut in the Dunhill Links. He said it was ruthless accuracy around the greens which separated the elite professionals from the rest.