The former coach of Robert Allenby and major winner Y.E Yang has eschewed the cut-and-thrust, ego-driven world of professional golf, and is now reaping the rewards of teaching amateurs and club golfers.
Sandy Jamieson is the Head Teaching Professional at Commonwealth Golf Club on Melbourne’s sandbelt and has been working there for the past three years. He says his time spent following the PGA Tour and European Tour caused him to miss out on family life back home.
“When you’re coaching Robert Allenby for a long time—he’s a bloke I get along with well—you spend your life in business class and private airplanes. It’s a buzz, but at the end of the day, I like to coach and then go home and see my family,” Jamieson says.
During his teaching days on tour, Jamieson spent more than three years based in London but now works almost entirely with amateurs. Currently, his only professional client is Victorian Pro Jarrod Lyle.
“Coaching tour players is a massive time commitment that drags on your family life,” Jamieson admits. “You’ll end up spending 10 to 15 weeks, in my case, on the road with a tour player. While it’s rewarding for yourself, you get back to your family and your kids are a bit bigger and you miss out on all that stuff and your job security is not as good. If you’re basing your life on four clients and you lose one of them, there’s a quarter of your income gone. When you’re coaching club golfers, you’ve got a bigger client base.
The 41-year-old not only gets more satisfaction from teaching club golfers but says there is less scrutiny as well. “When you coach a tour player, there’s an ego part to it,” Jamieson says. “When the tour player goes well, you contribute and you feel good about yourself but when they play bad, it can all be put on your shoulders as the coach. If a club golfer plays bad, they say ‘I still can’t quite do what you’re asking me to do’ and when they play great, they give you all the credit. You go home a lot happier when you coach club golfers.”
Jamieson is not aiming to seek out more pro clients but is optimistic that he can help Lyle get back to his best golf when he rejoins the PGA Tour on a medical exemption as early as this year. “I’ve got unfinished business with Jarrod. Jarrod’s someone I coached for a long time when he was younger. When he does get back out on the tour, I would like to feel like he has all the tools he needs to be better than ever, and if I could be there to support that would be great. It’s not my goal to pick up someone who’s already a tour player and going out on tour with them.
Jamieson has been a Teaching Pro for two decades and is concerned that many coaches today are becoming too technical with club golfers.
“If you analyse every single golf swing to the nth degree, the golfer forgets about playing the game and they’re not allowed to learn by their mistakes. It’s possible to try something new and hit a great shot and then, over the next shot, try exactly the same thing and hit a horrible shot. So every time someone hits a bad shot, they try and change it and do something different. The fact is, it was just a bad shot.”
Jamieson is a strong believer in using a golfer’s ball flight to learn about the swing and suspects some teaching pros today are too dependent on video technology. He says he’s simplified his teaching philosophy over the past five years.
“I still have technology to use but I want to actually have the opportunity to see my clients hit some real golf shots rather than stand there and video every single swing and go back and draw lines on a computer screen. If they see the ball flight gets better and they think that they can implement it straight away without feeling awkward, then it is a great result as it is all about the pupil after all, that’s what makes me happy!”
Sandy is a AAA member of the PGA and has been coaching for 20 years. He was the assistant coach of the VIS golf program for 5 years and has run his own academy catering for all levels of golfer. Golf lessons with Sandy are available at Commonwealth Golf Club to club members and the general public. Bookings can be made on 03 9575 0444. www.jamogolf.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.