By Pete Cowen
If someone had told me, when I first played in the Desert Classic 30 years ago, that I would one day have academies in three of the best clubs in Dubai, I would have thought that they’d been to three night clubs and two bars!
I was delighted to open my third ‘Peter Cowen Golf Academy Dubai’ in the UAE last month at Jumeirah Golf Estates to add to the Dubai Golf stable that includes Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club and Emirates Golf Club. JGE is a fantastic practice facility for the European Tour players with two brilliant courses – one of which is host to one of the best tournaments of the season – the DP World Tour Championship.
We want to open more academies worldwide but getting the staff is the problem. With the one I have in my home town of Rotherham in the UK I’ve got five really good staff who have worked for me for a long time, which is great, but they’re hard to find. A lot of the players and coaches have been with me at the Emirates Golf Club Academy for a while and they understand what they’re trying to achieve, so the formula works in the long run.
Once I get completely sick of travelling, I’ll definitely spend a lot more time here in the UAE. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve done with the coaches and seeing how we can improve their skills, because I want all the coaches to get better. My philosophy is very simple: you’ve got to get up every morning to find a better way of doing things, and that has got to be your ethos. You might not find it, it might take you years, but you’ve got to get up with that thought in mind that you’re going get better every day. I’m happy with the quality of coaching I’ve seen in the UAE but I think everyone can improve, myself included.
I’ve been coming to Dubai for years and it never ceases to amaze me how far the golf scene has progressed. I played in the first Desert Classic in 1989, 30 years ago, (I didn’t play very well, but I enjoyed the experience.) There was nothing between where we stayed right in the middle of the city and the Emirates Golf Club and we just came out in a bus down a rickety road. You see the picture now of how it was when it first opened in 1989 and you can’t believe the improvements that have been made here and the place it has become.
If someone told me then that I would have academies in three of the best clubs in Dubai I would have thought that they had been to three night clubs and two bars! Doing an academy here back then would be a miracle, but now there are 12 clubs in Dubai so it just shows you what can be done.
Apart from Brooks Koepka, who has won four Majors from his last eight Major starts, the most talented player I have got would be Thomas Pieters. I still see him as a project as we started together when he was 12 years old. I’ve worked with Henrik Stenson for 18 years and we’ve had our ups and downs. He’s not been playing well recently, but he’ll be back, of that you can be sure!
The Postman’s return to top form
Ian Poulter has improved massively in the last three years, which is down to him having a better understanding of his golf swing, that’s all. You can’t reinvent the wheel – he just understood his golf swing and knew how to get better by focussing on specific aspects of his game. It can be mundane to keep doing the same thing again and again until you get better at it. You’re not going to find the magic move of the month, you need to find what you’re good at and improve on it. You also need to know what causes the problem. If you know what causes the problem…you shouldn’t have any problem!
Billy’s been great for Matt
Matt Fitzpatrick’s new caddie Billy Foster has helped him a lot. Billy is one of the best caddies in the game –he’s worked with the likes of Seve, Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjørn and was with Lee Westwood throughout his most successful years. So it was great to hear Billy say that Matt was the most professional player he’s ever worked with. But Billy has bad legs unfortunately. He would have liked to work with Matt for years to come to but it won’t be possible. It’s tough carrying that 80 pound bag around and walking 10 miles every day so he’s suffered a lot of problems which have kept him away from the game for long periods. It’s a difficult one but he is a great caddie. n