What’s it like to be a coach during a Presidents Cup week? NCG spoke to renowned PGA teacher Kevin Kirk to get the inside scoop

As the first shots are about to be struck at the Presidents Cup, we caught up with 2019 PGA Teacher of the Year Kevin Kirk to get his thoughts on the event and the challenge of getting players ready for the unique formats of team golf.

On being a coach on Team USA…

“In whatever capacity you’re in, if you get a chance to be part of a sporting team representing your country or nation, it adds an extra element of excitement. It’s not often team formats in golf are played so to be able to pull for a bigger cause is pretty fun for everybody involved.”

On the challenge of getting players ready for team golf…

“A lot of thought goes in to figuring out which players are going to be good partners but most of that is worked out in advance. One of the big discussions is which golf ball they’re going to use for different shots because you can change it during the round which is unlike a normal tournament. So it’s trying to figure out the chemistry between the players and make sure they partner well personality-wise and work through any golf ball issues and get used to the course.”

On the comparison to The Ryder Cup…

presidents cup

“The interesting thing is the US squad have an event every year. It’s not uncommon to see the same faces playing both the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup. You’d think it might get old, but I’ve been around for five or six of these cup weeks and every time the players love it, they get excited about it and you can really feel the energy building as you get closer to the event. So from that perspective I think they’re similar.

But…

“I think there is a slightly different energy to the two events. You know what the Europeans are like at the Ryder Cup. They really revere that event, it’s so important to them. I’ve been around the guys that play over there and it’s like the most important thing in their world. With the exception of The Open, it seems like they’d rather be part of a winning Ryder Cup team over anything else.

“The fact also is these guys have been playing golf together for a long time. When you look at the rest of the world, you’re talking about the entire globe. You’ve got players from South Africa, Asia, Canada, Latin America. It’s a much bigger geographic space so I think the connection between the internationals isn’t as tight because of that. They just don’t play enough golf together, they’ve not grown up playing together. I think that’s probably the biggest difference.”

On The Presidents Cup 2019…

“You’ve got world class players on both teams so you can never take anything lightly no matter what the history is. It’s about what happens this week and literally what happens in the moment. With Tiger as captain, the US team have a big target on their backs. And equally, Tiger will want to make sure he does a good job. All the players respect him and what he means to the game so they’ll play really hard for him.

“As crazy and as simple as it sounds, it boils down to who plays better. You get to these events and all of a sudden a handful of players get a hot hand and they become difficult to beat. If you look at past team events that’s what’s happened. Players from one side will start playing well and putting well and they just rack up a tonne of points.

“I don’t really have a sense for what the score will be. I just hope the matches are close and it goes down to the wire – I love the drama of it all.”

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