Mickey Walker: A good team can make all the difference
I have talked about the importance of having the right person on the bag. Here I would like to touch upon the other areas that you need to get right when you turn pro, something that lots of players will be doing at this time of year.
Finding a swing coach who’s right for you can, like your caddie, also be trial and error. When you play on tour and are mixing with other professionals week in week out, you might notice a coach on the practice ground that you like the sound of and you get along with well.
It is rare that a professional sticks with the same swing coach throughout their career, although of course it does happen. Paula Creamer has had the same coach, David Whelan, throughout her professional career but many players change, which can offer fresh ideas and impetus. It’s all about finding what works for you.
Nowadays many players have a full swing coach and a short-game coach, as well as a mental coach. I have seen some extraordinary turnarounds when pros have started working with ‘mind coaches’.
I don’t know a golfer who hasn’t mentally sabotaged their round on occasion” If you think about it, on average a professional will be on the course for about four-and-a-half hours, during which the time actually spent hitting shots is approximately 30 minutes or so. That leaves about four hours of thinking going on in your head.
I don’t know a golfer who hasn’t mentally sabotaged their round on occasion and most golfers on many occasions. What we think has such a huge bearing on how we perform.
If evidence were ever needed, take two of the world’s best players in Lydia Ko and Jordan Spieth, both fantastic examples of how to conduct yourself on the golf course and internally to get the best out of your game – most of the time anyway.
They are great exponents of controlling the space between their ears to maximise their potential. So many of us do the opposite without realising that we are the only person able to control what is happening between our ears.
If you have the opportunity to go and listen to Dr Karl Morris when he visits a golf club near you do take the opportunity. Karl may just help you to realise that how and what you think is a choice and the best players make good choices.
If you don’t have the opportunity to go and listen to someone in person, there are many books available by the excellent Dr Bob Rotella and Pia Nilsson.
Then there’s the subject of fitness. Nowadays, not all but the majority of professionals work on their fitness. It makes sense that if you’re physically as strong at the end of a round as you are at the beginning, then it has to be a help.
I can remember Alison Nicholas telling me after she’d been working with Paul Darby on her fitness, that she could come off the course and have the energy to practise for several hours afterwards, whereas previously she’d been too tired even to contemplate it.
Look at any practice ground at tournaments these days and they will be as busy at the end of the day as they are at the beginning.
Life as a professional golfer requires you to do a lot of travelling, and even a moderately successful player will have opportunities to supplement their income with additional pro-ams, corporate events and endorsements.
It definitely helped me enormously having the clout of Mark McCormack and his IMG organisation behind me, not to mention the administration to arrange all my travel and accommodation as needed.
Rather like finding the right coach or caddie for you, finding the right manager is sometimes trial and error, but someone who I would seek out is Vicky Cuming, who manages Charley Hull and Mel Reid. Vicky works for IMG and is extremely well connected, knows golf inside out, but just as importantly is a delightful person.
So much of what a young person decides is personal choice followed by trial and error.
The bottom line though is always that hard work combined with talent will succeed in the end. I wish any youngster contemplating turning pro the very best of luck.