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Course management, coach’s secrets!

During the Smarter Golf Trophy, we interviewed Ilya Goroneskoul about course management. Ilya is a teaching pro at golf Mont Griffon Academy by Srixon.

Apart from the results, how would you define the differences between a golf pro and an amateur?

  • The golf pro manages perfectly the various performance’s factors:
    • – he defines very precisely its objectives to drive his training,
    • – his physical and mental preparation,
    • – his routine,
    • – his environment: family, feelings, staff around him,
    • – how he manages the different roles to achieve his goal (to his physical coach, his trainer, his life’s partner, his training course)
  • Also, adaptability is an important characteristic: a pro knows how to adapt his game in every situation, where the amateur would probably lose control and be lost then disappointed.

What are the qualities of a good amateur?

  • The good amateur keeps his mind clear, while having challenges. His open mind is very important to be ready to listen..
  • Also, he must be in harmony with its environment (club, coach, friends): he needs to be self-aligned to listen properly and filter all information he gets. If he is not feeling good, he won’t progress and will get frustrated.

What are the areas of progress that are not capitalized on by amateurs?

  • game vision: golf is about goals, performance, results… which shouldn’t be perceived as an achievement by itself, but setting goals is still necessary. If you don’t target anything, generally, you won’t do much at the end.
  • technical skills: chipping, putting,
  • course management that needs to be adapted to the golfer’s skills
  • live in the present moment: breath and get rid of frustration!

“It’s important to focus your training time according to the type of shots you really play on a round.”

Do you think strategy is well taken into account by amateurs? If not, what are the reasons?

Clearly not enough! Probably because it’s too far away from the practice range, which is by far the main training place for most players.

As you coach your students, is strategy an important working area? How do you approach it?

It’s fundamental. From a newbie to a pro it drives training priorities from the basics. It helps identify strengths and weaknesses.

You also coach young players. Tell us more about the specific working areas and from which age you initiate them to golf strategy?

  • Strategy is a priority, starting from 5 years old, because it all comes down from there. They need a good vision of the game and the desire to be here.
  • Hence, you need to check if they are “fully present”: breathing, doing yoga, stretching, working on the stance and the good balance on a foot. Loosen and tighten the muscles…
  • Then, we work on
    • – the golf fundamentals with a club: grip, stance,
    • – their mobility with hoops to visualise their swing in the space,
    • playing situations/ challenges: putting and chipping with the strategy to aim at specific zones to win points. With the question: “How do I go from point A to B?”

In general, how well do students know their real skills? (average distance per club, consistency)

  • Not enough! Players are in denial. When they fail doing a shot, they keep playing like nothing has happened.
  • A very good example: the shots within 60 yards: knowing how to adjust the distance between 20 and 60 yards is very important. Those shots are the most played by an amateur, and it’s usually the shot they train the least on!
  • My advice: It’s important to focus your training time according to the type of shots you really play on a round.

“Everyone’s expectations must be clearly identified, otherwise there is no chance to achieve anything.”

What can you detect when you coach a student directly on the course?

  • During summer, I mainly coach directly from the course. It is necessary to work sector by sector to be as close as possible to the reality of golf. That will then create a technical need and the search for a solution. Some examples:
  • For a good player: you have to identify the shots that are at risk. You have to put him in different situations on the course and detect with him the shots he loves and the shots he doesn’t. What choices does he make? Why? So you can instantly identify problems on which we will work once back on the practice range.
  • For the shots to the green – shots between 100 to 120 yards, we can easily train them on the practice range. But in real playing situations, it happens very often that the golfers put themselves in difficulty. Being on the course with the student let me see if he is missing his shot due to a lack of real intent to play. Generally, it comes when the player has not clearly defined his objectif and his game priorities. What is the most important? Achieving the right distance or shooting in the right direction? The answer will depend on the position of the flag, hazards, wind… Playing without any conviction, sounds like a rejection to succeed the shot. In this case, the ball rarely goes where it was supposed to go. To solve this, we determine what the player needs to master, then we go back to the practice range to train specifically.

How many shots can a bogey player (HCP 18-24) save by following your strategic advice?

  • A bogey player, being regular on every hole, often lacks distance or needs to enhance his chipping. For those players, course management could save a couple of shots: 4 to 5, but it’s already better than nothing!
  • For those who have the game to play within the Par but who find themselves being around HCP 18 generally manage their game very poorly and should be able to play relatively often under 10 by managing their course. For these players, course management can really bring a lot.

To conclude in a few words, what is Ilya’s method?

  • I adapt myself to all kinds of players, to their needs, to their personality. It is crucial to find the roots that give them the desire to play.
  • Everyone’s expectations must be clearly identified, otherwise there is no chance to achieve anything. Finding an element that is a real motivation is essential: some players are looking to decrease their HCP by 2 points a year… others may prepare themselves for an important tournament.
  • Far beyond the game itself, golf is a means of education, personal development, social connections. It’s a self-expression, like an art!