Shubhankar Sharma has received an invite to play the Augusta Masters and not just that he will play a pre Masters round with Rory McIlroy. Yes, it’s phenomenal. Shubhankar Sharma’s tremendous effort at the WGC Mexico was a reflect of the talent in the young man and that he could be the champion India has been waiting for. Shubhankar’s instructor has a lot to do with his game. Meet Gurbaaz Mann, a former professional golfer who gave up the sport after an injury but quickly latched on to the potential of using technology for the game. Something’s clearly working for Shubhankar and Mann puts the spotlight on it.
How would you assess Shubhankar’s week at WGC Mexico?
Course conditions were great. WGC is a great week for any golfer as there is no cut line and the players are focused on playing the best they can. Shubhankar displayed clinical golf and his performance has been great. There are some things that we need to work on technically to gain him an additional edge. He is capable of way more.
Do share a bit about your own experience in club custom fitting and technical instruction.
I have been researching performance aspect of Golf Equipment for the last 10 years. I learnt this in my own career when I couldn’t find answers or make headway working with coaches on my golf swing singularly. It is a precision sport and the ballistics of a golf club hitting the ball at such high speed is not visible to the player and therefore technology and protocols to understand the effect of multiple variables is necessary. The ‘Golf swing’ is merely one part of the puzzle. Unfortunately the major part of the golf Teaching industry is based on different swing ‘philosophies’. In reality the swing or technique is completely dependent on equipment specifications and playing conditions.
You were pro too. How much important do you give to instruction and technicals?
I was probably ‘the best’prospect that India had as a player but I received little support financially and my parents did everything they could to give me the best I could get. Jesse Grewal, Donato Di Ponziano and Alessio Cocchi coached me in my career and were fantastic as teachers. However, I couldn’t for some reason find consistency in my golf shots . The underlying reason as I understand now is that the golf swing and the golf shot are 2 different things. For a player to feel confident and get good results, all 14 clubs have to be in sync.
Jesse Grewal finally convinced me to look into my equipment as I was technically great. Thereby we did research together to create the ‘Positive Correlation’ system to combine custom club fitting as an integral and first part of teaching.
On another front I created the IAPGA to give Indian players a platform to the PGA tour. I also mentor the players to guide them to avoid mistakes that I have made or couldn’t help but make. All this is a part of giving the players what I couldn’t get when I was younger. Today I can comfortably challenge any authority in the game for performance. I have no regrets switching from playing to my current role as I feel more players like Shubhankar and Ajeetesh are going to benefit from my work and eventually do India proud.
Tech like any industry is the most important part of performance. In the medical industry or Formula 1 or Aviation etc. Athletes get faster and better results which can be quantified
What does it takes to win on the PGA Tour?
1. Work ethic with talent being a foregone conclusion
2. Repeatable technique that lasts through the test of time and changing conditions
3. A good team of coaching , club fitting and a mentor
4. Financial support and funds applied in the right direction. Let’s face it you can’t play under financial pressure. I’ve seen it first hand.
5. Good health and injury prevention.
6. Luck / destiny whatever you want to call it.
What are your expectations from Shubhankar at HIO 2018?
I have no expectations from Shubhankar as sky is the limit for this lad. He is a COMPLETE player. Expectations are usually there when you value something. Shubhankar is Invaluable to us all as his team and the nation as well