In the city for the inauguration of a golf driving range, veteran golfer John Volz took time off to share his views on the growing popularity of the sport
“Swing the club like you would throw a heavy pillow with both your hands,” explains John Volz to a novice golfer. Despite a failed attempt by the player, Volz continues to repeat the same line to anyone who attempts a drive under his supervision. Finally one middle-aged man perseveres to hit an almost perfect shot from the tee, much to the satisfaction of his American teacher.
Volz wears a contented look as he walks towards me and after exchanging pleasantries, we sit down for a chat on the sidelines of a golf driving range inauguration in the city recently. My first question almost irresistibly veers towards the PGA instructor’s heavy pillow analogy.
“Golf involves a lot of natural movements. Many golfers would try to manufacture shots, which leave you in an awkward position. If you have got your posture and the rest of the body position in place, then we (instructors) suggest natural body movements which would help one to comfortably hit the shots they desire,” responds Volz.
Any golfer would do well to pay heed to the veteran’s advice. Volz, through his initiative Jovogolf, has been involved in golf operations management for more than 20 years now, in addition to coaching numerous golfers. While the American’s brief includes, inter alia, the management of club, and food and beverage operations, the definition of this role has been limited to coaching in India.
Despite this narrow understanding of a Master Professional’s role, golf continues to grow in the country. Volz has closely followed the sport in India since his first visit here in 1997 and his reminiscences of that trip show that golf has come a long way from that point.
“Fifteen years ago, there was only a single junior tour in the country. Now, there are easily 15 to 20. Indians have taken to golf in considerable numbers. There’s so much money in golf. Look at Arjun Atwal. He won one USPGA event and earned $918,000,” says the American instructor.
To emphasise his point, Volz reminds everyone how there were no driving ranges earlier and the players had to practise on either the first or the 10th hole of the course.
While the trips to India have been largely fulfilling for the veteran, the sport was not part of his initial career plans. “Though I used to play a few sports when I was young, my primary focus was on music and acting,” says Volz.
The American initially picked up golf in order to get away from the “socialising” culture of the entertainment industry and spend some private time. He soon, however, made a few friends on the course and went on to enrol himself in the PGA training programme. Later, the Nicklaus Foundation provided further opportunities to Volz which eventually resulted in his first trip to India.
The AAA Master Professional also had the good fortune of working with legendary golfer Sam Snead for seven years and he ranks him as the best ever. Volz counts Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as second and third, respectively.
Our conversation ends with a discussion on the future of golf, on a global level. Volz sums up golf’s status in the sporting world by saying, “Golf may never become the most popular game in the world but there’s a huge amount of corporate investment in the sport. These are exciting times.”