What I wasn't expecting was that that chasm is just as visible between scratch golfers and tournament professionals. It's just that they are more, what's the word, professional. They behave professionally, they swing professionally, they look professional, and they have the support behind them which funnily enough is professional - and that's what it takes to be a tournament professional in these times.
Our students at Edge Golf College have known that they were going to be playing in the Pro-Am for quite some time, but as the tee time moved ever closer you could see the realisation that they were actually going to be playing on the European Tour golf course with a European Tour professional. As the tee time crept closer the nerves and the excitement grew.
We had been drawn with Robert Rock and Ross Fisher, who both proved to be wonderful with the students. I knew that our students would prove to be a break from the norm, as they can play to a high amateur level, rather than the normal Pro-Am participants. So for the Pros last Wednesday it was great to have quite literally three students of the game wanting to absorb every morsel of information, asking questions about trajectory, bounces on wedges, workout routines, travel plans, how to stay calm, practise habits, coaching, swing weights, aimpoint putting, the list goes on. It just turned out that the two of our professionals for the day were more than willing to share. The more they shared the more the students listened, and the more questions the students asked.
The most incredible learning experience had just been delivered. And for a change it wasn't me who was doing the talking or instructing I managed to step aside and let these two tournament professionals, who have managed to amass millions in tournament winnings, do the coaching last Wednesday.
Out of the many lessons the students learned that day, I think two key points stood out the most:
The first, is that they do not think about technique while standing on the golf course, technique is what they work on Tuesday. The rest of the week is dedicated to understanding the golf course, their energy levels, and maintaining a calm demeanour throughout the tournament. If they think about technique they can't spend as much time on distances, green speeds, wind and strategy. After all, as they will openly say, all the work should have been done before they got on the plane. This was a big lesson for our students and should be a huge lesson for any other amateurs. When you're on the golf course you're playing the game, there is no time or space for anything else.
The second lesson, which I thought was really interesting, was that the students noticed that the Pros hit their fair share of poor shots. The big separator between the Pros and our students is that they are so engrossed on what they're going to do with the results of that poor shot they don't have time to get annoyed or carry the bad shot with them. From this second lesson our players realised that they shouldn't be holding themselves to such a ridiculously high standard and if they don't achieve that standard they shouldn't be annoyed. After all, if the Pros are hitting poor shots so should they. The big difference is, they're not carrying any emotion with them to the next shot, and they know they have a short game which will limit the damage of the poor shot. Meaning they know they have an opportunity to make par and making par isn't such a bad thing.
All of this has been explained previously to the students, but as we know it's not until you actually hear it, see it and experience it, do you actually really understand it, and that's the beauty of having the learning experience delivered to you by the very best.
A brilliant week, in fact I could write an article for the next four weeks on the Titleist Tour van experience, the question and answer session with a tour Pro, the question and answer session with Keith Waters the COO of The European Tour which covered sponsorship, management companies and the future of the game. A week to remember for a long time to come!
Until next, time play well.