Nairn Dunbar’s David Torrance was recently named Coach of the Year in the Scottish Golf Awards.
During his successful career, which has seen him achieve PGA Fellow Professional status, he has nurtured the likes of Russell Knox plus other elite level players such as Sandy Scot and Kyle Godsman, not to mention a range of golfers of all ages and abilities.
PGA.info caught up with the Scot to find out more about his passion for coaching.
Q. First of all tell us about your coaching career – do you coach across the spectrum in terms of ability levels and ages?
A. In short, yes. I never turn anyone away and enjoy the challenge and variety at every level.
Q. It must be a great honour to get a national award recognising your skill but what do you think are the key ingredients that make up a good coach?
A. In no particular order ... World class communicating skills, listening skills, patience, enthusiasm, genuine interest in people, hunger for success and results, a top class salesman, an ongoing keenness to learn more and the ability to have the advice you impart stick in the pupil’s head through entertaining deliveries.
Q. Have there been any past coaches that have been particularly influential?
A. Sir Henry Cotton, Fred Shoemaker, Bob Toski and Pete Cowen (below).
Q. How do you feel you have evolved as a coach when you compare yourself to when you first began coaching?
A. When I first started coaching I thought I was really proficient, but looking back I had no idea how much I still had to learn and the volume of skills I would have to acquire. My coaching has improved as I have gradually attempted to understand people better. I am still striving to improve after 35 years!
Q. When you work with an elite level golfer, what are the characteristics you like to see the most that gives them the best chance of making it at the very top (eg good attitude, fitness, raw talent etc)
A. Apart from good attitude, fitness and raw talent the list ideally includes the following; clever, cool/calm, willing to make sacrifices, inward confidence, single-minded dogmatic determination to do anything to achieve goals and soak up information, good at articulating feedback, great listening skills and happy with their own company.
Q. There are clearly a lot of very talented golfers in the world – what are the attributes that separate those that go on to become Tour regulars and winners?
A. Confidence, patience and sheer determination and great technique.
Q. Technology advances have furnished coaches with a huge amount of info – how do you use technology in your coaching?
A. I have embraced all technological advancements and carefully fitted this modern information, and equipment use, into my coaching sessions. I have strived to find the best “layman’s speak” for the easiest translation of complex “numbers and data” attempting to articulate in the best, easy and simple, way for players to understand and feel.
Q. For the average club golfer reading this, what advice would you have for anyone who is serious about really trying to improve their game and cut their handicaps?
A. I would advise them to engage with a PGA coach in their area and clearly explain what they would like to achieve with their golf. Ideally a structured bespoke programme would be set, with practice plans designed around the player’s available free time and improvement requirements.
Q. Having seen Russell Knox (above) achieve worldwide success, when you reflect on his early days was there anything that particularly stood out and earmarked him as a future top player?
A. Everyone at Nairn Dunbar Golf Club and in our area is thrilled with Russell’s ongoing success. I remember a unique junior member who made everything look easy and had complete belief in his ability. Russell had tremendous support from his family which must have helped a lot over the years. I am not surprised that Russell has achieved so much through his endless hard work, sacrifices and quiet determination.
Q. When you coach a player, do you adapt your coaching style to suit their particular needs and is something that comes with coaching experience?
A. I completely design my coaching content and style to each and every players needs. The initial interrogation of the player is the key. I would agree that experience, in life and sheer volume of coaching has gradually helped me fine tune my ability and skill level to quickly establish the best approach.
For more information on Nairn Dunbar Golf Club or to contact David see the club website here.
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