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.
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!)