Game improvement gold mine
At a 30th Omega Dubai Desert Classic planning meeting recently, a golfer out the window of Falcon Golf’s office caught my eye. The pitch shots he repeatedly nestled next to the series of different flags on the practice green through the office’s semitransparent blinds became a serious distraction - who was this wedge wizard?
The giveaway was the tip-to-toe black ensemble Peter Cowen has made his wardrobe trademark. Legend has it the coach to the stars plonks alignment training rods in the ground back at his U.K. base and then proceeds to wow onlookers by hitting the minuscule sticks almost at will. The way he had his wedge/wand dialled in on the Majlis practice green gives me little reason to doubt the mythical tale.
We’re seriously fortunate to have the ilk of Cowen bringing their methods to the ranges of the Middle East. We religiously feature a tip from the pros at the Dubai Creek branch of the Peter Cowen Academy Dubai within these pages and this month’s is clever in its simplicity as head pro Mike Kinloch shows how a simple sleeve of balls can help you flush it off the tee. If you saw Cowen on that Monday lunchtime, you’d be rushing to Dubai Golf sister-property Emirates Golf Club for a short game lesson too, hoping some of the magic passed on from the Englishman to Stephen Deane’s team of teaching pros might rub off.
Tuition is the DNA of Golf Digest and a particular favourite are the tips from David Leadbetter, gems all which deservedly warrant prime real estate in our monthly offering. You’ll find the coach of seven former world No.1s and a man who has coached players to 22 major titles in his usual slot this month on p19 in addition to our special cover feature.
It was a genuine thrill to spend a morning with the 66-year-old ahead of the official opening of the Middle East’s first Leadbetter Golf Academy at JA The Resort last month. I’ve followed Leadbetter’s teachings ever since he remodelled the swing of my boyhood hero Nick Faldo, a risky move that netted the Englishman six majors and a knighthood but one Leadbetter admits would never be attempted today.
Leadbetter touches on the relationship with Faldo that brought him worldwide acclaim in the 1980s in a fascinating interview starting on p42.
As an aside, kudos to JA The Resort for their own recent remodelling job. Peter Harradine’s re-design of the nine-holer’s three opening holes, from a par 5-3-4 layout to a par 4-4-3, is seriously impressive and adds real strategic and aesthetic interest to an already challenging and pretty course.
If you need help negotiating the revitalised course, Jebel Ali’s long-serving head pro Stuart Fee has just completed his Leadbetter Academy accreditation and former European and Asian Tour pro Yasin Ali is part way through his. I can personally vouch for Leadbetter’s methods; my grip didn’t past the master’s warrant of fitness and a simple tweak, which predictably felt awkward at first, had me striking iron shots as sweet as I have in years a couple of days later at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Yes, we sure are lucky when it comes to golf instruction in the UAE. U.S.-bound Justin Parsons will be sorely missed but his soon-to-be announced replacement at the Butch Harmon School of Golf at The Els Club is another globally recognised name. There really never has been a better time in the Middle East to get your game in shape.