Tee it Up: Lydia Ko leading the way for young stars

Lydia Ko poses with the Evian Championship trophy
Lydia Ko poses with the Evian Championship trophy

JFGA Academy coaches Johnny Foster and Chris Gallagher with their weekly look at the golfing world.

Last week on the European Tour long hitting Belgian Thomas Pieters claimed his second victory in three weeks at the KLM Open in Holland. 
He surged up the leaderboard in the weekend to claim a one shot victory over another man in form, Lee Slattery. The 23-year-old has propelled himself into the spotlight recently with a string of good performances.

Last week also saw the final Ladies Major of the year, The Evian Championship in France. It was won by another youngster, Lydia Ko. The 18 year old has now achieved an astonishing 18 professional wins already in her career. 
Lydia is a very refreshing player to watch play golf. She obviously has massive amounts of talent but what she also seems to have is a care-free attitude when put under the most extreme pressure. 
As she played the final stretch on Sunday it was as if she was out for a casual round with her friends rather than a major championship, making her look so comfortable in the situation which was presented to her.

The comfort under pressure that young professionals and elite amateurs show is a very common scene now on professional tours all around the world.

The average age of winners is getting younger and younger every year. You only need to look at the ages of the winners this week. We are also seeing many amateur golfers seamlessly transition into tour life.

One of the big reasons behind this is that today’s elite amateurs are constantly being trained in pressure situations.

When they go to practice, they aren’t simply just hitting balls and working on positions in their swing. They are simulating tournament conditions, adding a consequence to their practice.

Therefore, when they enter the competitive arena, no matter who they are around, they are ready and hungry to compete.

At the JFGA we make sure that we encourage our students to add pressure to their practice. We think it is extremely important to design pressure filled practice routines for them in order for them to be ready entering a tournament. We have witnessed great evidence in results in the last couple of years from putting students through pressure tests.

You only need to look at how comfortable the players from both sides were at the Walker Cup when GB&I came out on top by 16.5 points to 9.5. 
The standard of golf was fantastic to watch. It was great to see the five Irish players all play well. We wish those who are turning professional luck in their careers. Gary Hurley is already in action as a pro in first stage of European Tour Qualifying school this week and Gavin Moynihan tees it up at the Italian Open.

Quick Tip

One of the most overlooked aspects of the golf swing is rhythm.

Every good player has their own style to their swing, but a commonality among the world’s best is that they all have sound, consistent rhythm. At the JFGA, we believe that tempo of the golf swing is the glue which holds it together. 
Here is a fantastic, simple drill to help you with the rhythm of your swing.

Set up as per usual with a mid iron and then place a golf ball about six inches behind where your club rests on the ground. Your goal here is to gently sweep the golf club away, rolling the secondary ball away from you. If you snatch the club away too quickly, the ball will either go flying behind you too far or you will miss it completely.

This is a great drill for feedback on the smoothness of your takeaway. If you get the first three or four feet of your swing in a good tempo, the rest will simply follow. Try this and over time, your rhythm and therefore ball striking will consistently improve.