Jon Wal­lett

Louie Chan talks to the HKGA Golf De­vel­op­ment Di­rec­tor about his 30 years coach­ing ca­reer, his favourite course and who would be in his dream four­ball.

HK Golfer - - Final Shot -

When did you start play­ing and where?

I grew up in Bath, Eng­land and we lived by the 13th green at Kings­down Golf Club. So ever since I can re­mem­ber I messed around with a golf club and my 10th birth­day present was Ju­nior mem­ber­ship of the club, as this was the min­i­mum age some­one could join. My first 3 cards for h’cap soon af­ter this birth­day were 122,121 and 119! The h’cap sec­re­tary gave me a 34 h’cap which I was so proud of (nor­mally they start at 36) and many years later I asked him why he didn’t give me 36 and he said that he’d seen me prac­tic­ing and play­ing so much he wanted to en­cour­age me – which he def­i­nitely did – thank you Mr Broom!

What’s been your best ever round?

My ‘tour­na­ment ca­reer’ fin­ished a long time ago but I was rel­a­tively suc­cess­ful as a Ju­nior in Eng­land and man­aged to rep­re­sent Eng­land at School­boy In­ter­na­tional level for 2 years. In 1987 at the Car­ris Tro­phy at Moor Park (this was the big­gest Ju­nior stroke­play tour­na­ment in Europe at the time) I was joint leader af­ter the first round and this was re­ported in the Na­tional news­pa­per ‘The Daily Tele­graph’ with the head­line ‘Wal­lett cashes in’!

Can you give an ex­am­ple of the dif­fer­ent play­ers – Tour pros and am­a­teurs – that you’ve worked with over the years?

Un­til 2002 I was a reg­u­lar coach at a club, but then I de­cided to build an Academy that fo­cused on my pas­sion – and that was work­ing only with Ju­niors through to Elite Play­ers. For 6 years, I was the Academy Di­rec­tor of ECGA based at the Evian Royal Re­sort, host of the Evian Cham­pi­onship, and there we man­aged to build a con­veyor belt of young elite play­ers. I then went on to work on Tour and I’m proud that all 7 play­ers I worked with as the con­tracted coach at Tour Level for a num­ber of years im­proved and low­ered their scor­ing av­er­age and prob­a­bly I’m best known for work­ing with mul­ti­ple Ry­der Cup win­ner and for­mer Top 10 World Ranked player David How­ell who I first start­ing work­ing with at the 2011 Hong Kong Open (!) and am still his cur­rent Coach.

What is your phi­los­o­phy re­gard­ing player de­vel­op­ment, in­struc­tion, etc?

Hav­ing been in the coach­ing game for now al­most 30 years, I think you evolve as a coach. Early on you fo­cus on swing per­fec­tion but soon re­alise if you look at the top 10 golfers in the world they all have sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences in their tech­nique so pur­su­ing one swing model is fu­tile. My phi­los­o­phy, and the phi­los­o­phy when I work on the Euro­pean Tour, is ‘low score’ coach. Let’s find a way to lower you score, al­beit be on the tech­ni­cal side, think­ing side or man­age­ment ar­eas of the game.

Do you have a favourite course?

First of all, you have great cour­ses in Hong Kong – I first played KSC in 2006 and it was the first course I had played where you had to get to by boat and its views are breath­tak­ing. Com­ing to the Hong Kong Open at Fan­ling, I can tell you the course is very much a favourite venue amongst the ET play­ers and I love its strate­gic and sub­tle chal­lenges as op­posed to brute length or long rough like you so of­ten see at Tour venues. And then Clear­wa­ter Bay is stun­ning and a bucket list course. My favourite in Asia would be Sobu CC in Ja­pan, then world­wide Cy­press Point, USA, Wind­sor G and CC in Kenya and Formby GC in Eng­land in that or­der.

Who would be in your dream four­ball?

From a golf­ing per­spec­tive it would be: Ben Ho­gan – to see his swing and ball strik­ing at first hand. Jack Nick­laus – the great­est player ever to date, and some­one who truly had com­mand of the spirit and ethics of the game. Seve Balles­teros – no finer com­peti­tor than him and to view his ex­quis­ite short game skills (and hope­fully rub off on my game!)

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