Mod­est! am­bi­tions

Why two young Brits have joined a pop star’s fledg­ling golf agency as they em­bark on their pro­fes­sional ca­reers

Today's Golfer (UK) - - Contents - WORDS KEVIN BROWN PIC­TURES H OWA RD B OY L A N , G E T T Y IMAGES

How two young Brits are forg­ing a ca­reer with a pop su­per­star’s help.

Turn­ing pro­fes­sional is the ul­ti­mate dream for mil­lions of young golfers. You’ll see them on the put­ting green ev­ery week­end, where they spend hour af­ter hour af­ter hour hol­ing six-foot­ers to win “The Open”. For a frac­tion of them, the dream will come true – and that’s when things get scary.

There’s a mas­sive dif­fer­ence stand­ing over that six-footer to win an imag­i­nary Claret Jug, com­pared to stand­ing over a six-footer to make a cut. Or keep your card. Or bank £100,000. But that’s just part of it. Turn­ing pro means travel, taxes, en­try forms, ask­ing for in­vi­ta­tions, me­dia work, spon­sor deals, pay­ing your cad­die/coach/trainer… It means get­ting your card, keep­ing your card, play­ing all over the world, stay­ing all over the world, hir­ing – and of­ten fir­ing – cad­dies, coaches, per­sonal train­ers… and agents.

For a ris­ing star who’s al­ready tasted pro life via the big­gest am­a­teur events and the odd spon­sors’ in­vite, the lat­ter de­ci­sion can help ev­ery­thing else fall into place. For many as­pir­ing pros, it used to be a case of choos­ing be­tween one of the big man­age­ment firms like IMG (founded by Mark Mccormack) or ISM (founded by ex-tour player An­drew Chan­dler). But the last few years have seen the rise of smaller agen­cies that can have more per­sonal re­la­tion­ships with fewer play­ers. The new­est of them all is Mod­est! Golf.

They’re un­usual, and dif­fer­ent. Firstly, their mis­sion is to help upand-com­ing play­ers in their early 20s find their feet in the big, scary world of pro­fes­sional golf. Se­condly, one of the bosses is pop su­per­star and mega­keen golfer Niall Ho­ran.

Ho­ran, and fel­low di­rec­tors Mark Mcdon­nell and Ian Watts, will again be sup­port­ing the Chal­lenge Tour’s North­ern Ire­land Open for the third year run­ning (Au­gust 16-19 at Gal­gorm Cas­tle) with Mcdon­nell telling us: “We want to de­velop that and host­ing tour­na­ments in gen­eral, but our main fo­cus is help­ing pro­duce the stars of to­mor­row.”

Mod­est! Golf started up a cou­ple of years ago and they have high hopes for the six play­ers – all un­der 23 – cur­rently on their books. We met two of them – Brits Con­nor Syme and Jack Singh Brar – to find out why they went with this agency, and what they think it can do for their game.

How did it all start for you?

Jack: I started play­ing at the age of five, which is pretty late these days. My dad started play­ing quite late in his life and I just fol­lowed on a few months later and started pretty much play­ing most days from seven-10. And I just went from there. I made good progress, win­ning a cou­ple of kids’ tour­neys, in­clud­ing the HSBC Wee Won­ders. I also played in the US Kids events as well be­fore play­ing in the lead­ing am­a­teur events such as the Macgre­gor and Car­ris Tro­phies. Con­nor: My dad is a pro so I started play­ing very young be­cause he got me i nto it. But be­tween t he ages of eight and 1 4 I was re­flect­ing t hat golf was more my dad’s sport and I wasn’t i nto it t hat much – I was more i nto foot­ball and played for Queen of t he South. When I was about 1 4 , I had to make a choice be­cause t he foot­ball and golf both took place on Sun­day. Hav­ing got i nto t he Scot­tish golf squad I opted for golf and pro­gressed f rom t here re­ally. I got more i nto golf and it ’s been t hat way ever since. Jack: I did play a bit of foot­ball, but I was quite young, though I still play a bit with my friends. Con­nor: He didn’t have too much skill though!

Was join­ing Mod­est! Golf a big de­ci­sion for you?

Jack: We signed on the same day be­fore last year’s Dun­hill Links. We spoke about Mod­est! quite a lot be­fore we turned pro. I was pretty set on sign­ing, but Con­nor was flirt­ing around the edge for a bit try­ing to get me off the ball. Con­nor: I was try­ing to keep Jack on his toes! I don’t like to con­firm any­thing un­til it is ab­so­lutely sorted. Jack: There’s a lot to choose from out there and un­for­tu­nately you hear a lot of hor­ror sto­ries about man­age­ment com­pa­nies, but I was swayed by stuff like guar­an­teed starts ow­ing to Mod­est! host­ing their own event (North­ern Ire­land Open on Chal­lenge Tour), and hav­ing reg­u­lar con­tact with Mark since last March. I de­vel­oped quite a good re­la­tion­ship and it just seemed like a proper out­fit and had all bases cov­ered. They have ful­filled ev­ery­thing I wanted. Con­nor: The guys have been great since I turned pro. I think Mod­est! are the most for­ward-think­ing out­fit. It’s great to be join­ing the com­pany at the start al­most. It’s an ex­cit­ing time.

Were you aware of Niall Ho­ran and his in­volve­ment?

Con­nor: I met him a cou­ple of times be­fore I signed and he’s part of the team and def­i­nitely helps us out as much as any­body else. He’s very into his golf, very pas­sion­ate about it. His in­volve­ment makes it an ex­cit­ing com­pany to be a part of.

What are your goals this year?

Jack: We’re treading slightly dif­fer­ent paths af­ter Q School with Con­nor hav­ing se­cured his card there. I’ll hope­fully go down the Chal­lenge Tour route, get my seven starts with Mod­est! and hope­fully break through and guar­an­tee my card from there. I’ll try and get them in early so I can then plan ahead – I don’t want to leave it too late and don’t see any point in

spac­ing it out un­til the end of the sea­son. Con­nor: Get­ting my card at Q School has def­i­nitely opened a few doors this year, with the sea­son kick­ing off in Dubai fol­lowed by a lit­tle trip to Aus­tralia. Q School is a gru­elling week, but for­tu­nately I was able to get through it and luck­ily I was in a bit of good form and played well enough to get one of the top 25 cards (he fin­ished T9). It’s go­ing to be an ex­cit­ing year. Though I’ve had a few op­por­tu­ni­ties with starts, it’s great to have a plat­form that I can build on. Fin­ish­ing in the top 12 on my pro de­but in the Al­garve gave me a lot of be­lief. A lot is about con­fi­dence and the men­tal ap­proach, mo­men­tum and hav­ing things go your way, which all com­bine to make it eas­ier. It has given us both be­lief be­cause we grew up play­ing to­gether and have been friends for a few years now.

How tough is it out there?

Jack: Very. It’s dog-eat-dog. It’s an­other world com­ing from am­a­teur golf, where you vir­tu­ally know ev­ery­one. Though you know most of the play­ers out here, you don’t know them per­son­ally, and that makes a dif­fer­ence. Con­nor: Hav­ing come through Q School I’ve got slightly lim­ited starts, so it would be good to have the op­por­tu­nity to ce­ment myself on the Eu­ro­pean Tour; the goal for me is to try and get into that top 110 for next year, which would open a few doors in terms of events and guar­an­tees. But I’m not try­ing to run be­fore I can walk. You’ve got to be re­al­is­tic. Though I have a card it’s still a bit of a tran­si­tional time in terms of starts. I’ve got to take op­por­tu­ni­ties as they come. Jack: I’ve dreamt of this mo­ment since I was five years old, but once you’re here you just want to get the job done. I just want to break through on the Chal­lenge Tour and then push on to the top 15 and get on to the Eu­ro­pean Tour through that. Just to keep go­ing through my pro­cesses. Con­nor: You stick to what you do be­cause if you plan ev­ery­thing out, it’s so sub­jec­tive – ob­vi­ously you’ve got to have goals, but you can only con­trol your next shot.

Name: Jack Singh Brar Age: 21 From: Hamp­shire, Eng­land CV: Rep­re­sented Hants and Eng­land at both U16 and U18 level. Played for GB at the Ju­nior Olympics and in 2017 won the Lytham Tro­phy. Played for GB&I at the 2017 Walker Cup (high­est points scorer)....

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