As I say goodbye to the ladies competing in the Tarleton Pro-Am, possibly the biggest all ladies Pro-Am in Europe with 130 ladies participating, I welcome my last group of the winter season for the El Rompido golf school May 2017 in lovely Spanish sunshine. The first day is about identifying the most important aspects of the game for each member of the group to work on – this is achieved by observation and by creating a video record of how individuals are applying the basics. This takes some time but is very valuable for everyone as they tackle the improvements to improve their game. This is quite a tough session so after lunch we took the opportunity to tackle the demanding North Course. This helps to establish the focus for individual coaching as the week progresses.
At the beginning of day 2 we split into 2 groups with one playing 9 holes on the South Course and the other working with me on pitching and bunker play. This is a vital part of good scoring and few players rarely get the opportunity to understand the techniques of pitching over green side bunkers – especially the size of those at El Rompido. Inevitably some attempts result in balls in bunkers and this provides a great way of practicing how to get out and get the ball near to the hole. I remind the group that the bunker shot is the only one in golf that requires a full swing, including a full follow through, yet the ball only travels 10 yards or so. Pitching over bunkers requires a small gap between the ball and club face not dissimilar to a bunker shot to feel the club hits the ground and then make sure the follow through is longer than they think in order to ensure the club does not decelerate or worst still quit on the shot. So many poor pitch shots come from short stabs at the ball. The next session focussed on long shots for which we moved onto the range. This revises some of the work on day one and addresses issues of stability and balance. After lunch the groups switched round so those I worked with in the morning moved to play 9 holes and the other group worked through the same content as the morning coaching session.
On day 3 the groups again split into 2. I find this works really well as I can concentrate the coaching whilst ensuring that everyone gets opportunity to play and put what they learned into practice. This time the first part of the coaching was on putting, discussing different ways of gripping the putter, where the eyes should be when standing over the ball at address, positioning the ball and the stoke pace. Each member works on a range of specific tasks and drills and is encouraged to experiment and have fun. The later part of the session was devoted to driving, an aspect of the game in which everyone is eager to improve. After lunch a round on the South Course gave opportunities for coaching, playing and benefiting from a variety of activities. All in all this is great with plenty of humour and fun.
Day 4 is a leisure and rest day. I went for my usual early morning run and then into the little town of El Rompido for coffee and ice cream on the beach. We took the little town train back to the course and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon by the pool.
Day 5 and everyone was ready to get going. Time for chipping (as opposed to pitching) with concentration on the low point of the downswing with the objective of getting them to improve their contact with the ball. By keeping their weight centred and making excellent contact with the ball resulted in improved distance control and accuracy in hitting the landing point. The group also worked on chipping short distances. The group concentrated on understanding the elements of flight, bounce and run which when they all work together means improved landing point, better distance control and shorter putts. These all come with practice, experience and better ‘feel’. Moving on the range to work on the long game I set up an interesting drill. I painted a white line on the grass and placed 4 -5 balls on the line. The task was to hit the ground on or after the line. This is a great drill for showing up contact with the ball. In the afternoon we played the South Course on the hottest day of our time at El Rompido. It was good to see how individuals improved judged against the video record from the beginning of the week.
Our final day together came round far too quickly – as is always the case. From my point of view it is very satisfying to be part of the fun and hard work and observe the understanding everyone has about what they need to do to improve their golf. We spent some time talking about how to deal with sloping and difficult lies. We had some ‘light switch’ moments which are always good and a sign of better understanding. I finished the coaching sessions by talking with each individual about what we covered during the school and what they needed to concentrate their practice on. We played the traditional last day competition on the North Course. The conditions were not easy as the wind decided to get up. Jan Oliver was the winner with 34 stableford points, which given the condition was a great score.
I am proud of all the girls this week for their hard work, fun and desire to improve. I wish each of you a fantastic summer of golf and very much look forward to hearing how you all get on. Well done girls.