My week at The Open and what you can learn from it

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This past July I was fortunate enough to realise a career goal, attending one of golf’s Major Championships, The Open at Carnoustie in Scotland, in a professional capacity. I was at The Open to help Cameron Davis prepare for and compete in his first Major Championship.

I have worked with Cameron since he entered Jack Newton Junior Golf squads in 2011 and at Precision Athletica, have been able to watch and help him develop over the ensuing years through the Golf NSW and Golf Australia programs. Being present at The Australian Open to see him win in 2017 was a special moment and being part of his team to help him prepare for and compete in his first major championship was equally special. But I did not have time to be emotional and misty eyed, as I had a job to do!

I arrived in Scotland on the Sunday prior to the tournament, Cameron had flown in from the US the previous day, having come off a busy schedule on the Web.com Tour.

Cameron, his coach Khan Pullen and caddy Andrew Tschudin had already been to the course to do some preliminary planning for the week ahead. The priority for me was to see how Cameron’s body was after he had been playing over the previous few months, as well as the impact of his travel.

I feel the impact regular travel, especially long-haul flights, has on your body is underestimated and these effects can have a significant impact on a golfer’s ability to perform. So, Sunday afternoon was a perfect time to do an assessment to see where Cameron was, then treat the relevant areas to give us a good base to start the week from.  

Monday started with some more treatment before heading to the course for a practice session followed by a practice round of 18 holes in the afternoon. The focus initially was to see where Cameron’s game was at, as well as working out what types of shots were going to be needed through the week, with the conditions and set up of the course in mind.

Working with Khan and Andrew, we noticed some poor postural habits had crept into Cameron’s set up posture, which were impacting both his full swing and putting. So, we headed back for more treatment to focus on these specific areas, as well as implementing postural correction drills and exercises to help improve his alignment. Following this we went back to the practice ground to integrate the new drills into his practice routine and ensure that he was transferring effectively to his set up posture. At the end of the day we finished off with a recovery session – spikey ball, stretching and posture drills, to maintain the gains we had been making in treatment and get ready for the following day.

Tuesday and Wednesday followed a similar pattern, however we changed up the practice round times to allow Cameron to play the course in the morning and afternoon to get a feel for the course at both times of the day.

Practice rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday were limited to 9 holes – the front 9 Tuesday and the back 9 Wednesday. This allowed Cameron to get a good feel for the course, but also to not overdo it early on in the week and leave no energy for the actual tournament.

Tuesday afternoon was also a great time to do a good recovery session and with the course at Carnoustie being quite firm, I felt it was important to look at ways to freshen up Cameron’s legs.

We headed to a nearby beach (not quite the same as the beaches in Sydney) and did a cold-water session, similar to an ice bath. With the water being close to freezing, it was perfect and so we spent 15 minutes up to our waist walking forwards, sideways, backwards, as well as criss-crossing legs and taking our legs through full range of motion.

I never ask an athlete to do something I would not, so we both went through the full session. The other benefit of doing this session at the beach is the mental break if gives to get away from the golf course. Professional golfers spend a lot of time at the course and it’s good where possible to have a different view, even for just 30 minutes.

As well as spending Monday through Wednesday helping Cameron prepare for the tournament, it was a great opportunity to observe the best players in the world and how they prepare.

The R&A had set up a temporary gym behind the player’s lounge for the week and there was a steady stream of players, of all ages, heading to the gym all through the week. I stuck my head in there one day to see a tour veteran and previous major champion, in the middle of an intense weight session (probably one of the reasons he has been one of the world’s leading players for many years). The other noticeable thing was that most players, especially the upper echelon, had their team with them. It made it even more clear to me that it requires a team to produce an elite athlete and golf is no exception.

By the end of Wednesday we were ready to roll – Cameron was in a good place physically and had integrated the work we had done in treatment and exercises into his golf swing. We had a game plan that he was comfortable with and had executed well in practice. He was hitting the ball beautifully, and we had a good routine to carry into each day of the tournament.

Each day of the tournament followed a similar pattern. I would meet Cameron for treatment 2 hours prior to his round. After treatment he would go through his warm up routine while I monitored his technique and gave him feedback. Following this he would sit down with Khan and Andrew and go through each hole and how it would play that day considering the wind and hole location. Then we would head to the range where Cameron would work through his bag, followed up with short game warm up and finally putting.

After each round we had a debrief on the day, talking about what went well and what could have been better. After this we would head back to the range to work on anything that came up from the round, even if it was reinforcing a good feel. The golf day ended on the putting green, finishing with drills for stroke technique and distance control.

Recovery sessions through the week varied from a light gym sessions on the bike, posture drills,  foam roller time and spikey ball releases, to further trips to the beach for cold-water sessions (for the whole team – Player, Caddy, Coach and Physio).

Overall the week was a success. Cameron finished tied 39th in his first Major, a great result. It was clearly evident that he is able to compete with the best players in the world, and the areas that need improving also became clear. The debrief at the end of the week was a great way to reflect on the tournament, what went well, what could be improved and what changes we as a team can make to help Cameron achieve his goals. He is a talented young man with a huge future, I am very much looking forward to the journey.

If you would like to know more about the Precision Athletica Golf Program, discuss your own golf performance and see if we can be of assisstance in helping you progress or get more enjoyment from the game, please contact Matt: matt.g@precisionathletica.com.au

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