American Amateurs depart Fiji

GOLFING IN PARADISE By JOSE CALLEJA General Manager, Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course   The American Amateur Team arrived at Nadi Airport at 05:15 eager to play Natadola Bay Golf
08 Jan 2012 11:13

The American Amateur team practice their golf swings at the Natadola Bay Golf Course.


By JOSE CALLEJA General Manager, Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course


The American Amateur Team arrived at Nadi Airport at 05:15 eager to play Natadola Bay Golf Course.
Yet the Fiji weather was far from perfect in our tropical paradise. It wasn’t long before the entire team made their way through customs and I finally met the Hall of Fame Coach of 2002 Mr Rick Larose and the Team.
The American team were greeted at the airport by the Natadola staff and the Pacific Destinationz crew ensured the refresher towels and water were ready on hand.
We proceeded towards the Pacific Destinationz shuttle bus on route to the Intercontinental Golf Resort & Spa where the players took time out to freshen up before coming to Natadola Bay Golf Club
Breakfast was served overlooking the spectacular reef break and the players commented how lucky we are to have a golf course with this view. “Awesome” was the word one player use to describe the golf course. By the end breakfast the rain stopped and clear blue skies covered the course.
Rick Larose who is the head coach at Arizona is referred to by his players as “Coach”. When I say players it not only refers to his amateur players but also names such as Tiger Woods and Jim Furyck. Whilst visiting Australia for the Open he managed to catch up with Tiger Woods during his warm up on the final day.
Mr Larose said: “Hey, you’re always the best dressed golfer on the course”, and Mr Tiger Woods turned to see who had spoken to him and said “Coach, what are you doing here???”.
He was surprised and happy to see a face he has known for quite some time, we go back a long way, said Mr Larose.
The shirt exchange ceremony between me and Mr Larose is something we would like to foster in Fiji every time we have the opportunity. Individuals from all over the globe can meet and present each other a symbol of their organisation as a gesture of respect, respect for a truly wonderful game, golf.
The players made their way to driving range and warmed up. It was great to see such great ball striking on the range. I took this opportunity to question the “Coach” and the player’s strengths.
He said: “These young players are so long, they hit the ball as far if not even further than the US Tour Players. I think as they make the decision to turn professional they will lose distance but only because they want to keep their ball on the fairway. Golf is easier from the fairway Jose. But the most important element in achieving great golf is flexibility. Core strengthening exercises and flexibility are the key ingredients when striking a golf ball. Yes there are many others factors to consider but if we can simplify the golf swing and get back to basics the key is flexibility.”
I asked Mr Larose if he could have a look at my swing and he said: “Sure no problem.” So he watched me hit a few balls and then said: “You need to allow your left side to turn quicker through the ball Jose.”
So I did just that and you wouldn’t believe what happened, I achieve a much crisper contact on the ball.
“There you go Jose, was that better?” he said.
“Yes it was” I said.
I suppose this is the perfect example why experience is such a valuable asset.
I also asked Mr Larose which player from his team he thinks may win the Master of the Amateurs in Melbourne, Australia. He said they were all playing well and on the day any one could win, how true.
I would like to thank Pacific Destinationz and the Intercontinental Golf Resort and Spa for their support to the American Amateur Team’s visit to Fiji.

Tip of the Week

Making things easier was the key I was receiving from Mr Larose at Natadola Bay Golf Course so this week’s tip is just that.

Making things easier with your iron play
Golf instruction has seen many changes and there is too much information which can cause confusion. I want to reduce the iron game to its simplest level. The goal here is to get you making smooth, controlled swings so you can be on your way to making better swings and shooting lower scores without having to think too much on the mechanical side of things.

Iron play: Setup vs impact
First, setup and impact positions are very different. I see so many players make this mistake.
Think of the setup as a starting point and keep the body flexed and the arms relaxed.
At impact, there are three parts of the body that look much as they did at setup:

  1. your head;
  2. your shoulders; and
  3. your left arm.

Everything else changes due to the movement through the swing. If you try to hit from a setup position the hands will collapse through the shot because you have stopped rotating.  We want to keep the body rotating to stop the hands from collapsing.
If your body keeps rotating you can achieve a good impact position where the hips are open, the shoulders are square, the shaft is leaning towards the target and the hands are over your left leg. Please don’t hit from a set up position, this doesn’t work, ok.
Until next week.


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