Pune, 06 January 2017: Communication comes naturally to David Leadbetter. After all the Englishman supported his golf career by teaching young children on the side. The 64 year old from Worthing in England has made Florida his home. Even though he could not realise all his dreams as a player, Leadbetter found gratification as a mentor. He has helped golfers such as Nick Faldo, Nick Price and Ernie Els among others accumulate over twenty major titles.
Naturally, the golf world sits up and takes notice of his thoughts. Even professionals pay attention to the wealth of insights from the genial golf guru. Leadbetter is easy to converse with, forthcoming and passionate about the art of teaching golf.
Golf transcends age and skill
“The unique thing about golf is that it transcends age and skill. The handicap system levels the game and you can play it with your child or your grandfather,” said Leadbetter. “It is a unique game that can be learnt by anyone at any stage in their lives.”
“I came here to India for the first time and am very impressed by this golf course at the Oxford Golf and Country Club,” he added. “Anil (Seolekar) and his team have made great use of the valley to create a world class golf facility. We are looking forward to work through Oxford to help golfers – children, adults and professionals through our holistic approach to learning golf.”
Of all things golf, David has been renowned for his understanding of the golf swing. “Golf presents a unique problem,” he told me with a glint in his eye. “Unlike in other sports where you are reacting quickly to a ball in motion, golf needs you to deal with a stationery object.”
“As you stand over a ball, you can have twenty different things working through your mind. It is important to stay calm. There are many important aspects to a good golf swing,” explained Leadbetter, even as I was listening with rapt attention.
Swing is about fundamentals and synchronisation
“The basic fundamentals of a golf swing are some of the most important ingredients in a golfers arsenal. The first element is a good grip, then comes a stable stance. The wind up and release should be smooth and relaxed. That is a critical source of power and energy. The arms need to control the plane of the golf club and acceleration of the club head,” continued Leadbetter even as I listened intently.
“A lot of people treat these elements in isolation, working on the swing in parts. We believe the swing is about the harmony between mind, body and the club. So we treat it as one synchronized act, delivered by coordinating the midriff, arms and shoulders to deliver a good swing of the club,”
David also discussed the qualities of tenacity, perseverance and patience – as he dwelt over the valuable life lessons from the game of golf. His thoughts grew on me nearly as quietly as the blood runs through your veins. He has an uncanny ability to teach and I was learning it first hand.
Role of parents
I asked David about the role of parents in nurturing the aspirations of young children. “Now this is one problem, we face far too often,” he started. “Since golf is such a family friendly game, parents, especially those that play golf can trick themselves into training the child.”
Parents play an important role in supporting children and helping them pursue their dreams. But it is important for them to step back and applaud from a distance. It is essential for parents to provide a qualified instructor to train the child.”
As I bid adieu to Leadbetter, I wondered if he was going to be back in India more often now to nourish the Oxford – Leadbetter Academy partnership. “Sure, I would like to visit India more often now, grow the game and enjoy more curry,” he said, signing off with a warm smile.