'My week ended by nearly killing someone when a wedge flew 185 yards'

The Scoop

In this month's Tales From The Mini Tour our resident pro Michael Helyard reflects on a year which failed to live up to his expectations

If someone offered me £100 to shoot level par or better then, nine times out of 10, I reckon I could do it. That’s not showing off, that’s just based on the scores that I normally produce away from tournaments.

Looking back at this season my average score is 74 which is nothing like level par.

You’d imagine nearly everyone who plays golf has the same problem but mine is that I’m trying to do it for a living.

At the start of the year I was more  motivated than ever and getting up every day to go to the gym at 6am wasn’t a problem. I had a bag full of new clubs with Cobra and clothing through Puma and I was more motivated than ever going into the year.

So I would practise for hours on end every day, not just hitting balls aimlessly but thinking of and sticking to all your drills, and you’ll see improvements in your game, both ball-striking and the scores.

And then you play in competitions and you can’t repeat the good stuff. Then, after a time, you start chasing things and, before you know it, the season, which isn’t a long one in the UK, has come to an end.

Most of my golf this year was played on the 1836 Tour or in pro-ams so it’s a one-round shoot-out. So the nature is to be aggressive and go for birdies and you get stuck in a certain mindset.

Michael Helyard

I went into Open Qualifying at Alwoodley in the middle of the season so frustrated by the lack of decent results that my whole approach was wrong.

In my head I told myself that three rounds of three under (one at Regional, the next two at Final Qualifying) would get me into the Open Championship. The course was baked but I tried to force things straight from the off. After bogeying the par-5 3rd my head had already gone a bit.

I was lucky enough, through some help from Cobra, to get a couple of starts on the EuroPro Tour. At Longhirst Hall I was two under after five and then drove one out of town at the 6th and made an eight. From there I played poorly and too aggressively rather than just trying to ride out the bad patch after just one bad swing.

At Moor Allerton I shot four under on the first day and was up there but one missed birdie putt from four feet at the 13th just stopped my momentum.

Come the final round and the closing hole, my week ended by nearly killing someone when a wedge flew 185 yards – I actually Bushnelled it – instead of the required 150.

Thankfully it missed him on the balcony and the ball bounced back down and across the green. I actually got up and down for a par.

Michael Helyard’s In The Bag With Cobra

Driver: F8 +, Hazard black X stiff 

3 wood: F8, Hazard Yellow X stiff

3-iron: Forged black,  X100 AMT

4-PW: Forged MB black, X100 AMT

Wedges: 50, 56, 60˚King Black wedges, X100 AMT

Friends ask if it’s a case of nerves but I really don’t feel nervous, I just try too hard and want it too much. Whenever I play well it just happens and I’ve been quite level-headed.

When I’m around level or one over I force things rather than trying to grind something out and it will go the other way.

Confidence is an amazing asset in golf and mine has been so fragile. That comes from regular tournament golf so, when the bad days happen, the next start and opportunity to wipe the slate clean is never too far away.

If money were no option I would spend it (in this order) on 1) a psychologist 2) a fitness trainer 3) a swing coach and 4) a caddie.

I’d definitely like to do more to improve on my mental side. I’ve read a lot of books over the years and you can fill your head too much so it’s best to stick to one method.

The hard bit is finding which one works for you? I’m so mentally aware of myself and am quite internal and aware of how I’m feeling so what might suit me might not suit someone else.

For me and so many others the playing chances are quite limited and the expense of it all is so reliant on getting some financial help.

The first stage of Q School is happening now but that would be £1,500 to play in it. Then there is around £700 for a hotel and other expenses so that’s £2,200 before a possible week in Spain for the second stage and then 10 days for the finale, also in Spain, so it all quickly adds up.

Then again, it was never meant to be easy. Look at the new World No.1 Justin Rose and all the other superstars of the game, there will always be setbacks, we just need to find ways to overcome them.

Michael Helyard represents Sports Publications on the mini tours. He plays Cobra clubs and wears Puma clothing and shoes and practises at Moor Allerton.

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