GOLF is not a team sport, but if you want to be a successful player you need to surround yourself with a team, says two-time US PGA Tour winner John Senden.
The former Australian Open champion told Inside Golf he was able to reach the highest level (US PGA Tour) because he surrounded himself with a good support team, who made sure he didn’t waste his talent and had few distractions.
“When I first started out the team was my mum and dad, Triggsy (coach Ian Triggs), my wife Jacki and a few others,” he said.
“Now, there’s a good team of only six people that surround me and give me 100 per cent support.
“Triggsy is always there, I have my physical manager Michael Dalgleish (physio) and a couple of others – a massage therapist and a trainer in the US.
“I had support from the club (Keperra Country Golf Club), but it’s those people that give me direct support and are involved with me on a regular basis that has made the difference.
“I feel that is needed to be a successful player.”
Senden says he has seen many talented pros fall by the wayside through lack of “professional” support and distractions.
“I grew up with some fantastic players in the 1990s that haven’t made it to the top level,” he said.
“Maybe there were a few issues on the sidelines that haven’t allowed them to continue.
“Golf is not the easiest game to play and any distraction can make it more difficult.
“When I started in the early 1990s there were 100 trainees and I am the only one still playing.
“Rod Pampling is still playing, but he was a year or two behind me.
“There were loads of guys that were very good, but you need discipline and the support to succeed.
“If you have that there is a chance you will make it, but there are no guarantees.”
Tiger Woods’ former coach Hank Haney also recommends players employ a good team and work hard.
“You have to have the right work ethic, mentality and the right team around you,” he said.
Of course, today’s elite young Australian players are fortunate they have the support of the national and state bodies.
Effectively, today’s young guns are dealt a couple of aces to help kick-start their careers unlike their counterparts from the 1980s and 1990s.
Back then, players were terrified to mention they were considering turning professional.
If they did, the system virtually froze them out.
I lost count of the number of top amateurs from that era who asked (no… begged) me not to mention they were considering turning pro.
How times have changed.
These days the amateur bodies bend over backwards to ensure elite amateurs have a smooth transition from the amateur to the play-for-pay ranks through its High Performance and Rookie programs.
The High Performance Program provides coaching, support service, sports science services and competition opportunities.
It gives Australia’s most talented golfers the best possible opportunities and world-class resources to fully develop their potential on and off the course prior to turning professional.
Rookie pros have access to coaching, strength and conditioning, biomechanics, sports psychology, physiotherapy and nutritionist.
Then there is the financial support that takes care of travel expenses, accommodation, entry fees, caddie fees and more.
Top young pro Cameron Smith, who has surrounded himself with a good team of people, said he valued the support of Golf Australia’s High Performance and Rookie programs.
“I don’t think I could have done it without them,” he said.
But back to Senden.
Since joining the pro ranks in 1992, Senden has never shirked hard work or lost his appetite for playing at the highest level.
Like all modern pros, he works hard on his fitness and is arguably in better shape now than when he started out.
“The whole team keeps me fit and motivated,” the 43-year-old said. “They keep me working hard.
“That’s been really helpful and I have learnt a lot about fitness over the last 10 years. I’m working more on my fitness now than earlier in my career.
“It’s been a big change and has made a big difference in healing the body.
“And it’s allowed me to stay out here (PGA Tour) and play good golf.
“I believe that’s the difference.
“For me to continue playing competitive golf on the PGA Tour and in Australia for next five years I have to stay in the gym – keep fit.”
Bet there are more than a few talented golfers from Senden’s era who wish they could turn back the clock or be starting their careers now.