Hard work

Retired DP World Tour caddy Sean Russell shares his inside knowledge on how tour professionals work far harder and longer than we see

Perhaps the most important thing I learned in 14 years as a tour caddy was just how good all tour pros are – not just the ones you see on TV on Sunday afternoons. 

Believe me, until you stand within a few feet of them and hear the strike (or when you’re next to Henrik Stenson, feel the ground move…) you really can’t appreciate the huge difference between tour players and elite amateurs, let alone the average club golfer.

Guys who are in the middle of the pack in terms of distance now routinely carry tee shots over 300 yards. Beyond that, a friend of mine caddied for Nicolai Højgaard when he first came out on tour and he was already carrying his drives some 330 yards on average. Next time you’re playing, stand on the first tee at your home club and work out where one of his drives would land… it’s mindboggling.

As a caddy, you also get to see and appreciate how ridiculously hard tour pros work on their physical and mental games before, during and after tournaments. The work truly never stops.

What you don’t see when you watch on TV is the 2-3-hour range sessions followed by putting practice, chipping and pitching, and then a gym and stretching session which would put the average human being in bed for a week. They do this (almost) every day.

We also get an insight into the mental preparation most guys do these days. There are many different techniques, and players tend to use these either alone or with their sports psychologist. In my experience, the priority here is eliminating negative thoughts. It’s so noticeable how the very top guys play with no fear whatsoever – they come to the golf course knowing they’re going to play well. I specifically remember the third round in Saudi Arabia a few years ago alongside Ian Poulter – he oozed confidence, went for every flag and finished sixth without getting out of first gear.

This is a mindset we can all learn from as club golfers. While we’re never going to get the ball out there like a tour pro, putting a bit of time into your preparation might just help you turn up next week knowing you’re going to play well and avoid those disasters when you’ve got a score going coming into the last few holes. Some food for thought ahead of your next round.