The Beautiful Game

The Yak sat down with David Bradshaw from the Leadbetter Golf Academy Bali to talk about the beautiful game … and how to get better at it.

David, why should we all love golf?

If playing competitively isn’t a target, golf is a fantastic social sport. It’s a sport that you can play throughout life, the handicap system means several friends with different abilities can play together and have fun. Each golf course is different, presents different challenges and amazing scenarios. It also keeps you active and healthy.

What’s the first lesson?

The first lesson depends on current ability. At the academy we have a junior program that is taught in groups. These sessions are pre-planned and generally teach golf from the hole backwards to new juniors. We have golfers who come to the academy who play the game and know a weakness they would like to work on and improve. Beginners are best learning from the hole, chipping, pitching, then into full swing. I try mix it up as most people want to hit the ball a long way and this is what hooks them onto the game, so the first lesson would be a mix of chipping and full swing.

Why is it so frustrating to play?

That’s a good question. Generally you go play golf with your friends or family on a golf course surrounded by trees, flowers and nice views … it shouldn’t really be frustrating! But it is. I would say that people’s expectations are too high. I see a lot of handicap golfers who don’t really accept bad shots very well.

How does the game rank against other sports, do you think?

I think one of golf’s appeals is the abillity to play the game throughout your life. There are not many sports you can still play when you are 60, 70, 80 years old. Golf is a new challenge each round, a different golf course, different weather conditions … it keeps the game challenging.

What’s the most important club in the bag?

The putter is key to scoring well on the golf course, even if you play bad you can putt well and score quite well. Driving the ball a decent distance and in play is also key to setting up a hole. People seem to get more of a buzz out of hitting the driver a long way and straight!

Does it matter what type of balls we use?

There are a range of different golf balls, some golf balls to gain distance, some to create a better feel and spin more, which is useful for the short game. And then there are golf balls for older people with slower swing speeds. The golfer’s ability will always outweigh the golf ball and equipment though!

Why is golf so expensive?

Golf is as expensive as you want to make it. Playing nice courses are expensive in Asia and the top equipment brands are not cheap to buy. It should not put people off learning or taking up golf though, as it’s possible to buy second hand or budget clubs to begin with and play low rate courses. But generally, yes, golf in Indonesia is expensive as it has been aimed at business people and corporations. There is a shift going on and hopefully golf will start to become more accessible for people to start the game.

How can we learn to play golf, and if we do already, how can we get better?

If you already play golf and want to get better, begin by understanding what your weaknesses are, then start evaluating your rounds of golf. Once you know your weaknesses you can come see us at the academy and we will find a way for you to improve that area of your game. We can also go onto the golf course together to understand and see all the different components, and then plan from there. Anyone who has not played before should not be afraid, we can create a beginner group program in which you could learn with friends or individually, depending on your goals. Lesson frequency depends on your time available of course. We would suggest one hour a week with myself and one hour a week practice.

Why are there so many different views out there on YouTube about what we need to do to get better?

There is some really good content now on YouTube, but it’s not always personal to the viewer, and I think people can go wrong if what they do is watch a lot of different videos which create a lot of different thoughts when they go to play or practice.

How important a market is Indonesia for The Leadbetter Golf Academy?

Indonesia is good for us, the market is very big with a range of people wanting to learn. Since I arrived in Indonesia in 2013 I have noticed golf clubs encouraging more juniors to play with different programs to make it more accessible to go on the golf course at a better rate. There are so many people who are new to the sport here, which is great. Developing this section of golf is fantastic, bringing more juniors and beginners into the sport is only a positive!

Talk to us about the Trackman technology that you use?

Trackman is a launch monitor, the equipment basically gives us your golf swing in numbers by tracking the ball as you hit it. We also video your swing with this technology. People learn better when they see themselves … and then we can explain the faults they make. It is also a great measuring tool to show someone their improvements over a period of time.

Where did you learn to play? And when did you know you were hooked on the game?

I am from the north of England. We lived near a golf course when I was growing up, which I joined. They had junior lessons each week but I really got hooked on the game when I was 14 years old. Looking back I liked the process of getting better, how I was the one in control of my improvement and the different challenges golf gave me.

What is your best ever score?

My best score is 67 [on a Par 72]. I played a lot of competitive golf in my early 20s.  I made a score of level par one round in a tournament, it was windy and rainy conditions (typical English day). This is the score that I am most proud of. When I play golf now, I generally play Bali National and I have scored a couple of 71s. It would be nice to break 70 here!

When was the last time you played?

I played a couple of weeks ago around Bali National with a couple of friends. I generally get out on the course a couple of times a month. My game isn’t as sharp as it was a few years ago when I was playing a lot of golf, but the excitement of still pulling off that tough shot into the wind or a chip over a bunker and getting it close is still there!

If a Yakker comes to see you, can you offer them a discount?

Any Yakker who played in The Yak golf day at Bali National in July will receive 25% off our prices. People can come see us at Bali National or contact us through our website or social media.

Who is or was the greatest golfer of all time?

When Tiger Woods hit the scene in 1997 in those few years he was unbeatable on the golf course, he certainly inspired me to play. He made golf ‘cool’. Young people started watching and playing because of him. Tiger is such a big reason why the professional golfers are playing for so much money, big companies wanted to start sponsoring tournaments and TV stations wanted to broadcast golf much more. Jack Nicklaus still holds the record for most major championships won though!

What is the future of golf?

Golf is in a really good place at the moment. Watching the professional circuit you have some amazing players competing, like Rory Mcilroy, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth … to name just a few. And a huge positive at the moment is that Tiger Woods is back competing, which draws in many people to watch the sport on television. At LGA Bali, we are working really hard on growing the game from the juniors. We are halfway through delivering a sponsored junior program that a local business supported for 25 juniors to have 30 hours coaching at our academy throughout 2018. We have also set up grass roots junior golf tournaments to get the kids out playing on the course. The junior program is something we are really pleased with.

David thanks so much for your time. See you at the range!

You’re welcome. Keep hitting them straight.

Contact LGA today through their website!