I was lucky enough to find myself on a trip to the Masters this year, a truly memorable experience. I did a lot of walking on the tournament days but a lot of sitting and observing on the practice days.
One of the most common challenges for club players is the ability to take their range game to the course so it interests me greatly to see what the best players in the world are doing in practice.
An emerging trend in tournament golf is the role of the ‘Performance Coach’. One coach in particular seemed to be popping up everywhere in Augusta – Dr. Morris Pickens, is a sports psychologist specializing in competitive performance enhancement. Stewart Cink, Zac Johnson, Nick Watney all practised under the watchful eye of ‘Dr Mo’. I walked the back 9 holes on Friday in the company of Dave Aldred, a performance coach who has helped Luke Donald become the number one ranked player in the world. I had met Dave previously and he was happy to share his knowledge and reveal to me some of the methods that he uses with Luke. It’s all about structuring practice regimes which mimic as closely as possible the competitive challenges that a golfer faces whilst on the course competing. ‘If you want to perform in the arena you have to practise in the arena’ is something I have long championed. Harrington too has just started to work with Dave – he finished in a tie for 8th – his best finish in a major since winning the last of his three titles in 2008.
A final thought, Bubba Watson, the champion – genius, artist – pick your term, but in a world full of golfing draughtsmen Bubba draws freehand.