I’ve worked with my player, Gavin Fitzmaurice (Gav), for nearly 6 years as his coach. He’s progress to elite level and is about to play in The Irish Amateur Championship (The Am) for the second time at the age of 19. We agreed that I would caddy for him for only the second time in competitive golf.
On paper, he’s the worst player in the field, playing off the highest handicap in the field. However, he is here based on form, having been a beaten quarter finalist in The West of Ireland Championship in Co. Sligo Golf Club in Rosses Point.
In the weeks leading up to ‘Championship Season’, we have been working on controlling trajectory and getting his short game ready for the challenge. We use TrackMan for all his long game work and the feedback on trajectory, spin rates and ball flight are invaluable at a time like this. In the short game, his technique is solid and we have developed scoring games to get him ready for competitive golf.
It’s the Sunday before The Am and we’re heading to The Royal Dublin GC for our first practice round. We both know the golf course well, it’s only 15 miles from our base and we’ve played here many times before. We’ve reserved a 5pm tee time so we arrive for 4pm and get some links practice on the short game area.
Due to the wet winter the links has a little more grass than normal, the lies around the greens are a little more forgiving. As we play the front nine the wind is helping, about a 2 club wind. That’s not an issue, we’ve played in worse. It makes the tee shots easier but holding the greens is tricky, they’re a little bouncy and the wind doesn’t help. All the par 4’s and par 5’s on the front nine are down wind. This wind makes the two par 3’s play long, they’re going in the opposite direction to the other holes on this nine and they’re long.
We work our way through the course picking target lines and finding where the ‘good miss’ is for each shot. We tested yardages and clubs for the par 3’s. The course is playing about as easy as it ever does. We get a down pour of rain as we turn for the back nine, there’s no-one behind us so we shelter in one of the on course huts. The wind has dropped to a one club wind and is helping us as we head towards the club house.
More hard work and a course guide that’s filling up with notes on start lines, distances to bunkers, clubs to hit on tee shots, places to miss the greens if we’re in trouble and of course any key information about the greens.
As we approach the finish, we start to imagine ourselves competing for the title come Sunday, it’s a good way of preparing for a possible win. We discuss what we would do if we’re 1 behind, level or 1 ahead. 18 is a great finishing hole, iconic. A tight drive and mid iron across ‘the garden’ to a large green, you have to imagine.
We finish for the day and plan our practice for Monday and Tuesday to tidy up a couple of shots we might need later in the week.
Official practice on Wednesday afternoon and then the main event from Thursday to Sunday.