Yes. She has the courage to want to better herself
For some golfers change is bad. Each round, it’s same ball, same tee colour, same socks, special slice-avoiding cap, sentimental glove, lucky charm golf marker. Don’t jinx it. But if someone shows them how to hit a drive 10 metres further, or to land short irons two metres closer to the pin, or chip it close, then change is all on. Who knows, it might win them a golf ball in the club haggle.
Lydia Ko is making constant changes, of the good kind. She’s searching for something extra, she’s looking to improve. Good, better, best.
Just like last year, she will start the season with a new (this time unproven) coach and caddie. Forget the new caddie; most player-caddie combinations don’t see out a season anyway. Ko is doing nothing unusual sacking her caddie.
But coach? That is a different issue. Ted Oh is unproven, he’s not high profile, his philosophies are not splattered across golf magazines and websites for all to see.
Moving from coach to the stars David Leadbetter, to coach to the stars Gary Gilchrist, to coach to no one notable Ted Oh is potentially fraught. No golfer wants to get caught between old and new philosophies – that is the place where doubt and frustration is born. But for Ko, it could well be a good idea. Gilchrist coaches former world No 1s Ariya Jutanugarn and Yani Tseng, current world No 1 Shanshan Feng, PGA professional Morgan Hoffmann, and LPGA pros Paula Creamer and Moriya Jutanugarn.
Great, he must be good then, right? But look at that list and add Ko, and you’ve got seven world-class players all wanting attention from the same man.
With her propensity for hard work and long hours, Ko seems to be looking for a one-woman guy, a coach who is constantly on tap.
More change won’t harm Ko. She is used to it. She’s known little else since her career began, all through her 14 wins on the LPGA tour.
She was world No 1 when she parted ways with Leadbetter to work with Gilchrist. Now she is No 10.
Ko went winless in 26 starts in 2017, while posting top-five finishes in four of her last eight starts. She won five times and a major in 2015, and four times in 2016.
So, if she thinks a change of direction is required to stop her going down the rankings, I’m with her.
Golfing pundits such as commentator Phil Tataurangi are not so sure. He fears Ko is seeking perfection, when in golf that is unobtainable.
He has seen top golfers send their careers off the fairways when they couldn’t escape that search, when they were never happy, when they were always tinkering.
While former men’s world No 1 Nick Faldo overhauled his game, fell into the golfing wilderness, then returned to the top, he did it by changing his swing, not all those around him, Tataurangi says.
And yet, Ko has always been more brave than foolish. She knows what she wants, and is courageously following a difficult path to get there. Let’s salute her for courage, rather than question her actions as folly.
As Barack Obama once said: ‘‘Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.’’