: Jack Nicklaus’s record is safe for the moment, Tiger Woods is unlikely to break it. At least that is what David Leadbetter, a trendsetter in golf coaching, had to say during a media interaction at the launch of his David Leadbetter Golf Academy in association with the Oxford Golf Resort here on Friday.
“Everybody asks, will we see the old Tiger. Well you won’t. Personally I don’t think he is going to break Jack Nicklaus’s record. If he wins one more Major, it will be a tremendous feat.
“He is 41 now. And if you have had the amount of back and knee surgeries that he has had …,” added Leadbetter as he trailed off.
Leadbetter was bullish on the sport’s prospects in India. “Indians have a particular liking for ball sports like cricket and hockey. Both of these require good hand-eye co-ordination, and the swing of the arms. I think Indians should naturally gravitate towards golf, unlike say the Koreans or the Chinese.”
Open to changes
Leadbetter, who is big fan of cricket, also was not averse to the idea of changing the format. “T20 cricket has revolutionised the way cricket is watched. But the problem with the powers that be in golf is that they are very traditional. They say, ‘this has worked for so many years. So why change?’
“However, things like a six-hole game are coming up. So maybe in the future we could see things moving in the direction.”
Speaking of new directions, golf in the Olympics had Leadbetter very excited. “It is good for the sport and Justin Rose’s gold medal is great news. The spectator support at the Games was phenomenal.”
One player who he watched at Rio, was India’s Aditi Ashok. “LPGA. That should be Aditi’s aim. She has the talent and potential. But she needs to compete in America where the conditions are different and the competition tougher,” said Leadbetter.
Leadbetter, who became hooked on to the game at the age of 12, said that there was no particular age at which one could take it up. Leadbetter also advised against putting too much pressure upon the youngsters.
On the issue of technique and coaching, Leadbetter who has broken many long-held beliefs and theories, wants to keep it simple and said, “Over analysis leads to paralysis.”
Speaking at the launch, Mr. Anil Seolekar, chairman, Oxford Group and a former president of the Indian Golf Union, said, “One of our passions at the academy is to develop the stars of tomorrow. We offer a comprehensive, holistic junior programme - for grassroots levels and “Get Golf Ready” programmes for elite level coaching. We also provide residential “Junior Performance Camps” and an exciting “Junior Satellite Programme” for those that live afar.”
(S.V. Sriram was in Pune at the invitation of Oxford Golf Resorts)