Kildare golf: Team Lunny bringing coaching to a whole new level

Further expansion at Gavin Lunny's coaching at Naas Golf Club

Tommy Callaghan

Reporter:

Tommy Callaghan

Email:

tommy.callaghan@leinsterleader.ie

Kildare golf: Team Lunny bringing coaching to a whole new level

Gavin Lunny team at Naas Golf club: Ronan Fallon, Julia Carroll, Gavin Lunny and Brian Sweeney

We are trying to bring an-
other level of coaching to what we already do, not just for the best players we work with, but also for the average club golfer who just wants to improve his or her game, and, of course, to the beginner.
The words of Golf Professional at Naas Golf Club, Gavin Lunny.
Gavin has, and continues, to coach both amateur and professional players, along with the club golfer; his record at his home club is nothing short of phenomenal having seen Naas players such as Jack Hume, Jonathan Yates, Conor O'Rourke and Robert Brazil record wins at some of the most prestigious events, home and abroad.
While Gavin played at Naas as a young player (and represented Ireland) he has now been the professional at Kerdiffstown for 13 years but it was just three years ago when he decided to open a state-of-the-art studio facility; a facility he says “that is not available anywhere else throughout the country, and all under the one roof.”
Gavin has extended his team at Naas, as he explains.
“My wife (Juliet Carroll) is now on board with us; she does strength and conditioning and fitness work with a lot of my clients; we have a physio, Ronan Fallon, also on board, while my assistant at Naas, Brian Sweeney, is TIP certified in junior golf.”
Juliet is qualified through the American Association of Physical Therapy; has been a triathlete for the past 20 years, has represented Ireland and “has brought a huge amount of knowledge to our business.”
My job is the swing end of things, explains Gavin “and while that does not always mean standing in here (studio) correcting people; very often I'm recommending they go and see Juliet, or another fitness trainer, or to Ronan, to fix any injuries or ailments.”
Many golfers these days get back and joint problems, Gavin explains, so we develop the best programme for each individual. “It's a team effort, we don't just tell a player what he or she is doing wrong, we explain to them what they should be doing, if they need to improve mobility, strength levels or need to go and have an injury looked at.”
Not every golfer is up for that approach, it is only for people who want it and are anxious to improve their fitness , says Gavin, adding “but more and more people these days are responsive to that approach, unlike before when a typical 30 minute lesson and someone tells you, 'you are coming over the top' or 'closing the club at impact' and you move on; this is bringing an entirely new level of analysis to try and get to the right solution.”
The Lunny Team cater for all golfers, beginners, club members, top amateur players and Tour professionals.
“When someone comes into the studio, regardless of whether they are a beginner, which we have lots of; a tournament professional who is struggling, or whatever, the environment they find here is a very personal one.
“They can talk to us of what their difficulties are; they can take their coaching session in a private environment where no one can see them; talk to us about what their ups and downs are. Beginners like this room because many of them are intimidated when starting out anyway so to be out of sight they are more comfortable, and then we bring them to the course as quickly as we can.
“At the other end of the extreme a tour player who is struggling and he or she just wants to sit down and have an honest conversation so the facility has made the entire experience here much more personal and with the use of our technology it is a very comfortable environment; it is something that was always a goal of mine to try and maximise the experience for the customer.”
So what exactly are the facilities available at Gavin Lunny's studio at Naas?
He explains: “Most people would know a video when getting a lesson; video has been around for years and that was the first real way people were analysed. Prior to that every-
one was measured by ball flight and as a golf instructor that is what I am an expert in, ball flight.
“I can look at a ball in flight and tell you why a ball took off left or right or why it travelled the height it did and the distance it did, that was the way we used to teach; stand behind a person look at the ball flight and could see what was happening, make the necessary adjustments; then video came along and we could see in more depth and we still use it; it is still the no.1 go-to for analysis.
“TrackMan then arrived and changed a lot of things. It put things into numbers; so instead of trying to get people to feel something; you are cutting across the ball say 5 degrees, so if that number goes from -5 to zero, you are getting better and that made it easier to understand for everyone; TrackMan is the gold standard in terms of radar analysis.”
Technology of course has moved on even further these days and took another giant step when 3D analysis arrived.
“3D is like taking an x-ray; it's like saying this isn't an opinion of how I think you move; this is actually how you move; this in 100 per cent analysis of exactly what a player did and that has been hugely helpful in particular in developing our own knowledge, our own understanding of how things work but also in injury prevention.
“If you play golf and you develop a sore back every time you play, something is wrong and it is telling you; traditionally we would go to the physio; get a bit of treatment; feel better, go back playing golf and the cycle repeats itself; while 3D allows us to see exactly what is happening and what we need to do to correct it; otherwise you are going to stay in that cycle for a long time until ultimately your back gives in.
“So 3D allows us to sit down with people and factually have conversations with people on what's happening as opposed to saying I think you should put your foot here, or I think you should put your ball position here, or whatever. This allows us to analyse, capture data and give an accurate opinion of what is best for the customer.”

The final piece of equipment, all under one roof remember, is the Pressure Mat, which can measure how weight and pressure moves on the ground during a golfer's swing.
“We use all those tools; depending on what the individual needs to know, but they don't need to know everything; it's not about bombarding someone with a whole load of technology and making them feel 'I got my monies worth because I got a piece of these things'.”
So all in all it has been a major investment in Kerdiffstown?
“Yes, but again I am very fortunate that Naas Golf Club has met me half way on everything and the club's attitude is, 'if it's good for them, it's good for me' and that is why and how we get on so well.
“I know some great guys out there but they may not get the support from their clubs but I think we have proved here in Naas is that what we do contributes to improving membership; improving satisfaction; improving, most importantly, the junior section of the club which is vital; I said if we can get the standard of player up then we will have longevity; we will have player satisfaction; we will have no difficulty in getting more members; more participation which will bring in more income.
“The PGA did research in the UK recently it showed that people who got lessons and took coaching spent 25 per cent more in their clubs than people who didn't and the clubs have to be paying attention to that; if they are not I think they are losing out in a big way; I believe clubs have to utilise the people they have an awful lot more.”
Adding “some clubs are struggling financially; afraid of getting involved but at the end of the day it is all about golf; if we don't have golf; if golf isn't strong in the club then we have nothing.”
So where does Gavin Lunny get his greatest satisfaction from?
“I often say that young coaches, just starting out, like to cherry pick to a certain extent; just look at the likes of Butch Harmon, David Leadbetter and those lads, they are the Hollywood stars of our business, not necessarily the best at it though; but for longevity to take real satisfaction of what you do, you have to be very good at what you do; sometimes the best way to be a good coach is to try and find the worse golfer you can and make him better and if you can do that there is great satisfaction.
“I enjoy most ends of the spectrum; it's easy to teach good players, they are a different challenge, more difficult to work with, egos a bit bigger; expectations higher; beginners are difficult to work with for other reasons but it is still a challenge.
“A coach is someone who tries to help make someone better and that is really where the passion is in it for me” concludes Gavin.