David Williams: Life as a Professional Golfer
BY iseekgolf.com | 11 Oct 2005
Upcoming talent is not hard to find in Australian golfing ranks but the tough journey these young men and women undertake is not often documented. Hours of dedication to a sport they love then becomes a real business decision as to which road to follow. David Williams has been a keen contributor to the forum on iseekgolf.com for some time, encouraging people to enjoy their games and he too found inspiration within the iseekgolf.com community that has enriched his own level of understanding of the game. So here is his story so far.
iseekgolf.com: At what age did you start playing?
David: I was given a set of golf clubs on my third birthday and never looked back. I began lessons at the age of five with Bill Britton and he drilled the fundamentals of the game into me for the next six years. He made the game fun to learn and that has stuck with me when I get a youngster to teach now.
iseekgolf.com: How long have you aspired to become a Golf Professional?
David: Basically from a very young age. I loved golf and was always on the course at any opportunity. After years of playing amateur golf to a fairly high level and trying to turn professional at Tour Qualifying School I was led to starting a traineeship at Keysborough Golf Club in Melbourne.
Apart from becoming a full PGA Member and being allowed to coach golf, the traineeship taught me a lot about playing under real pressure, that was playing golf at a high level while having to work, study and try and have a personal life all at the same time. I believe this gave me a little toughness out on the course I had previously lacked. I had to grind every round out regardless of how I was playing. I had a lot of success during my traineeship and having a great club to do my traineeship at definitely assisted. I went to the Australasian Tour Qualifying School at the end of 2004 with confidence. I managed to scrape though and get my Tour Card.
iseekgolf.com: What would be your advice to a teenager who is aspiring to become a golf professional?
David: I hate to admit it but I was a good player and tried to find the answers in the bottom of buckets of balls at the range. I practice far less now and I’m a much better ball striker, player and scorer. Get the right advice on your technique, physical and mental attributes as you will need all of them to succeed, not just one or two. I would also suggest considering a PGA Traineeship. Look past the 3 years of average pay and hard work. It is definitely worth all the hard work once you get through it. You have plenty of options once you’re through. A golfer who just goes to Tour School only has one option, play well.
iseekgolf.com: Since getting your Tour Card in December 2004 you haven’t been able to play much because of a shoulder injury. How has that impacted your life?
David: In a very twisted way it has been a blessing in disguise. I was on track to hit the Tour and perform quite well but I had been trying to manage a shoulder injury that began in October 2004. By February 2005, my shoulder had completely froze and I couldn’t lift my arm above my shoulder. Not being able to play golf at all is soul destroying. I had a great team behind me to help me through an uncertain time in my life. I wasn’t sure how long I would be out for and how I would survive financially. The time out of playing has also led me to expand my knowledge of the golf swing and develop my coaching.
iseekgolf.com: How have you survived financially?
David: The phrase “Behind every great man there is a greater woman” holds very true. My fiancée was extremely supportive during this time which helped give me the determination to succeed. My sponsors have also stood by me. Even though I couldn’t play golf they have stood by me and been very supportive and shown concern for my health.
iseekgolf.com: How did you come about a sponsor?
David: Being a trainee at a private club definitely helped. I was keen on assisting the members the best I could and with hundreds of potential sponsors at the club, I was lucky enough that one or two generous members stood up and wanted to be a part of my career. They are now good friends and we regularly catch up outside golf. It is just about being the best person you can be and trying to assist everyone around you. Eventually one or two will repay the favour. If you can show a potential sponsor what services you can offer to them and how much it would be worth to them it doesn’t have to be that hard to find a sponsor. To a business, just having a golf professional associated with their business to attend corporate functions etc is worth money. If the sponsor is a mad keen golfer a round every so often with his clients will help him generate business so that’s also worth money to you.
iseekgolf.com: You mentioned that you expanded your knowledge on the golf swing and developed your coaching whilst recovering from injury.
David: I never thought I knew it all about the golf swing but the last couple of months have shown me I knew a lot less than I thought I did. I visited Paul Smith (iseekgolf.com’s Golf School writer) in Western Australia and he introduced me to “The Golfing Machine”. I now have the knowledge on things that are supposed to happen in the swing regardless of each individual’s technique. I learned that to hit a golf ball we just need to use the equipment as it was designed and use the body’s build to determine how we swing which reduces the amount we have to manipulate the club during the swing just to make contact. I have since applied this to my swing and my coaching with great results in both areas.
iseekgolf.com: The Golfing Machine is often misconstrued as a swing method and misunderstood.
David: I went to Perth as a big sceptic but with an open mind. I discovered that TGM isn’t a specific method at all but an explanation of the geometry of a golf swing and the forces involved. I learnt a lot about what the body is trying to do to hit a golf ball. With this knowledge you can swing the club your own way but certain things must happen in any swing to hit a golf shot correctly then be able to repeat it. Look at the different swings on Tour. Some have classical swings, some have very orthodox swings but there are a couple of similarities between all swings. TGM explains these essential techniques and then all the different variations and how to apply them. So every golf swing on the planet is described in “TGM” and from that with the right golf coach who knows TGM every player can create a repeatable swing with practice. Where golfers struggle is when they have variations in their swing that don’t match up and don’t allow them to repeat a swing which creates a good shot.
iseekgolf.com: You spent four days with Paul in WA, what did you learn?
David: I learned that you don’t need to be a PGA Golf Professional to know the ins and outs of a golf swing. TGM teaches its students how the swing works all its variations and options importantly how to teach it well to others. Paul is just as knowledgeable, if not more knowledgeable, than most PGA coaches out there.
First we went through “Freddy”. This explains very simply the geometry of the golf swing and where the centre and low points of the swing are. Next I learnt how and why we need to consider club design and body design to set up and hit the ball.
Paul then showed me the dowel drills. The dowel drills helped explain forearm plane and swing plane. We moved onto racquet drills. The racquet drills help demonstrate the relationship between swing plane and the clubface and the lasers or flashlights drill assist in knowing exactly where the club is during your swing and where the shaft is in relation to the swing plane. All the drills combined with the use of a mirror give a very good visual reference as to how you are swinging. You learn very quickly how to keep the club on plane and the clubface square.
Then I learnt the two power sources for making a swing. Hitting and swinging. A swinger uses centrifugal forces when the body rotates to extend through impact. A hitter uses a thrusting right forearm to generate power in the swing then the body follows through impact to finish.
This incorporated the different pressure points in the swing. I found out from personal experience how important these pressure points are as if the wrong one is being used it can ruin a good golf swing and if the correct ones are used how beneficial they can be. Briefly I had been firing my right index finger down and through the ball, which is what I thought was releasing my wrists into the ball. This caused me to get very cramped into impact and my left elbow had to bend out of the way. After I learnt right wrist bent through impact starting out chipping and using the pressure point in the right hand palm to push against the shaft the improvement was instantaneous. My right wrist stayed bent and created extension through impact which kept my left arm straight.
I then learned about having a vertical, angled or horizontal hinge through impact. I was able to make the same length swing on three shots and achieve three different trajectories and distances. I was able to get very precise results after only five minutes of chipping. Made so much sense and simplified the short game to achieve different shots with precision. I always knew the feeling to hit a high soft shot or low running shot but once I learnt the hinge options it was very precise and very easy to replicate.
iseekgolf.com: Where to now?
David: Firstly my coaching has improved out of sight. My students are now improving as I can assess each swing and know how to help them use their technique to work with them and not against.
Next I am beginning to implement changes to my swing which will take time. I need to reprogram my computer to be able to repeat the new (correct) technique in my sleep. I am very excited to know my swing will now be simplified and repeatable. I am working hard on all aspects of my game and hope to be ready for the upcoming Australian Golf season.
iseekgolf.com: What are your plans for 2006/07?
David: I am now working hard on my technique and physical state with the hope of having a good season in Australia and possibly venturing overseas. I would look at Asia, Europe or The States as an option but a lot of things have to fall into place for this to happen. Firstly I need to be playing well enough to know I can compete at a very high level, my physical and mental levels are good enough to handle life on Tour and on the road and of course be able to afford to venture overseas to compete. I will need to consider each tour and weight up costs, time abroad and how I’m playing. To get onto most tours I will need to go through Tour Qualifying School in that country to obtain the right.
iseekgolf.com: Thank you David for a look into the life of a professional golfer, both in the clubhouse and behind the ropes.
Davids Williams – Amateur
- Spring Valley Golf Club
- Club Champion 1992, 1994, 1995, 1998, 2001
- Junior Champion 1992, 1994
- 1st Murray Valley Open (Mildura) 2001
- Pennant 1992 Division 1, 2000 Division 1 (Captain)
- Won several Ivo Whitton Tournaments throughout Victoria
Davids Williams – Professional
- T2 Victorian Trainee Championships (Lost in playoff)
- 9th National Trainee Championships
- 2nd Victorian Trainee Order of Merit
- 9th Australian Trainee Order of Merit
- Won 4 Trainee Pro-Am’s
- 1st Victorian Trainee Championships
- 1st A&L Windows Country Series
- 14th NSW Trainee Championships
- 3rd National Trainee Championships
- 5th Australian Trainee Order of Merit
- Won 5 Trainee Pro-Am’s
- 1st Victorian Trainee Championships (Won in playoff)
- 2nd Rich River Classic
- 2nd NSW Trainee Championships
- 3rd WA Trainee Championships
- T4th National Trainee Championships
- 1st Australian Trainee Order of Merit
- Won 6 Trainee Pro-Am’s
- Shot 60 (-10) Burnley Golf Club Trainee Pro-Am
- 2004 Victorian Trainee of the Year (Joint)
- 2004 Australian Golf Digest Trainee Player of the Year
- Australasian Tour Card Holder 2005
- 1st Safety Beach Pro-Am
- 3rd Curlewis Pro-Am
- 6th Keysborough Pro-Am
You can chat to David in the iseekgolf.com forum where he is will happy to answer any questions you may have on the life of a golf pro. His username is “Willow”.