Geoff Ogilvy's "Golf Digest Interview" seems shorter than some of the past incarnations of these always enjoyable chats, especially since just as it ended it felt like things were really rolling. Still, there's still plenty of good stuff to consider.
John Huggan asks the questions and as usual, Ogilvy has a fresh take on the still interesting subject of American golf and the dreaded state of our under-30 set:
There is a contrast right now between Europe and the U.S. when it comes to developing young players.
That's true. I know the U.S. press is looking for the next great American under 30.
Is it just cyclical?
It's an expensive sport in the U.S. It's cheaper in Australia, or the U.K. or South Africa. Anyone can play.
I do think that the American college system is really good at producing guys who can get the ball in the hole, but it neglects the technical aspects of golf. They're looking for the wrong things. I'm not saying the American guys aren't talented; all I'm saying is that some talent is getting missed.
If the Americans sorted their system out, we'd have only five on the PGA Tour [a dozen Aussies are among the top 100 of the World Golf Ranking]. We get more out of our talent than they get out of theirs. Their way of doing things can't be better than ours, because we have 20 million people and they have 300 million. It just doesn't add up.
Given the enormous influx of Australians on the PGA Tour, why hasn't a college coach wondered why and gotten himself down to the VIS [Victorian Institute of Sport] to have a look?
What is that, exactly?
If you go way back to the early 1980s, the Australian government realized we weren't winning any gold medals in anything. Or hardly any. For such a proud sporting nation, that was unacceptable. So the Australian Institute of Sport was started, mainly for Olympic sports. We did well in Atlanta [nine gold medals in the 1996 Olympics], and Sydney [16 golds in 2000] was amazing. And we did even better in Athens [17 golds in 2004]. It's crazy how well we do for such a small nation.
How did golf become a part of that?
The Victorian government decided to supplement it with an institute. Golf kind of came along for the ride. The deal was that you got a scholarship for a year. You got access to the top coaches. You got physical training and nutritional advice. Anything that was going to help make you better.
If I had to sum it up, I'd say that they basically took the best boy and girl players in Victoria and gave them access to all the experts in Victoria--for free. It was brilliant, really. And the bonus was funding for travel.
The best part of it was that they never dictated where you went or how you went about things. They would simply make everyone and everything available to you and let you get on with it. You had to make your own way. And you got time to ride out any bad periods of play.