Who would’ve thought watching Tiger Woods play at a Master’s would help a teenager qualify for an Open Championship?
This was exactly what happened to Zane Scotland, the youngest Open Championship qualifier. Zane Scotland was only 16 years old when he qualified for the Carnoustie Open in 1999. Now, he uses that experience to help other aspiring juniors become potential Tiger Woods.
In a podcast interview with Claude Harmon, Scotland says one of the basic things young players should focus on is having fun. He stresses the importance of just “having fun playing golf”. While body development is also important, Scotland doesn’t put this as a priority. He also tells Claude that juniors should be around better players.
Zane also compares playing golf to playing gambling, in that players get better as they’re playing to win, in addition to starting to familiarize oneself with how it starts off from the tee.
Zane says it doesn’t matter where players should throw their first swing – if it’s a birdie or a double – as long as the player gets into the position they’re supposed to assume when playing golf, they’re fine right off the bat (or in this case, their clubs.)
Scotland also adds that juniors should look for coaches who can improve their swing techniques, but not necessarily focusing heavily on that single aspect of golf.
After Zane Scotland’s playing career, he didn’t originally plan on becoming a coach or instructor. Zane Scotland briefly references an accident that resulted in a back injury, eventually stopping his rise from Pro golfing.
His condition no longer allowed him to continue his status as a pro golf player, however, the passion for golfing still lives on. He still went on to compete in mini-tours, and most recently, went to Dubai for the MENA Tour which he also won.
The right amount of stress (mental stress included) allows individuals to perform best. Zane Scotland also gives advice to junior aspirants that they should play golf competitively, as the benefits far outweigh those coming from safe plays.
He says golfers should focus on the competitive aspect of the sport, and not spend too much time perfecting technique on the range.
This is the exact same thing Zane Scotland had in mind when he was watching Tiger Woods. Although the first time Zane saw Tiger Woods was the latter doing a surprise snap hook of a tee into the trees, it set off his goal of becoming a better golfer.
Zane Scotland did see something good out of this experience, and he convinced himself early on that the golfers out on the green are almost always better than the ones practicing their swings at the range.
He’s never told this to the juniors he’s coaching, but it’s a belief – a competitive and practical approach – will always be the best way for juniors to progress well into the sport.
Zane Scotland further reinforces this by saying that a junior’s approach doesn’t have to be perfect the first time. They just have to do it, much akin to learning how to walk, it’s never perfect the first time, and it gets better in the long run. For first timers who want to start golfing, they can head on over to The Madison Club.
When asked how Zane tries to coach players without putting too much of his “trademark”, he responds by saying something along the lines of “intuitive.” He assesses the situation, and already has a diagnosis of what the player could be doing wrong.
From there, he just gives the player the basics, gives them advice that could be considered halfway between general and specific, but just enough pointers so that the player doesn’t focus on the details.
Zane’s inspiration and his models were people playing out in the field. He mentions in the podcast that juniors should surround themselves with good players.
This is always true to an extent: peer influence has a heavy role when learning a new skill, and the fact that there’s people comparing techniques (or observing) helps players develop an awareness of what they’re lacking and what they’re doing correctly.
Aside from coaching, Zane shares some swing tips and tricks for a variety of shots.
Zane says it took him six years to realize some of the advice he was given by golf players when he was a bit younger, and that’s why a more intuitive approach is better, however, there should still be a simple sequence of what juniors should follow. More on golf and clubs at golf.com/podcasts.