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Greenberry Fighting To Find Old Form

SUTTON-IN-ASHFIELD, ENGLAND l England’s Harrison Greenberry was a dejected figure as he arrived back at his hotel some hours after the end of his second round at the 86th Boys’ Amateur Championship at Notts (Hollinwell) and Coxmoor Golf Clubs in Nottinghamshire.
Twelve months before Harrison – or Harri to his friends – had won the 85th Boys’ Championship at Burnham and Berrow but this time he could only manage rounds of 78 and 76 in the stroke play qualifier and missed out on a place in the match play stage with three shots to spare.
In all truth the diminutive 18-year-old from Exeter has struggled all year to find the sort of form that enabled him to defeat recent Carris Trophy winner, Patrick Kelly, on the 37th hole of last year’s final. As a result, he has fallen well behind the likes of Max Orrin, Toby Tree, Matt Fitzpatrick, Nick Marsh, Kelly and several others in the pecking order for places in his country’s junior international sides.
Greenberry’s best performance since his deserved win in the 2011 Boys’ Championship came when he finished 14th at this year’s Peter McEvoy Trophy at Copt Heath. He is convinced that his dip in form is the direct result of listening to too much advice on how he could improve his swing.
“It has been a great year off the course but not such a good one on it,” Greenberry admitted before travelling to the USA to begin a golf scholarship at the University of Kentucky. “The problem was that after winning last year several people persuaded me to try to reduce my natural draw.
“Peter McEvoy told me that I should stick with what I’ve got, but by that time I had lost my natural swing and have spent the last six months trying to get it back.”
Greenberry’s insistence that his problems originated from listening to too much contradictory advice from swing coaches will strike a chord with all those elite junior players – and their parents – who via the current club, county and national structure often have as many as three different coaches at any one time. It is a situation I genuinely believe has to be addressed if the four home countries in the British Isles are to maximise the potential of their most talented youngsters. But it is not a problem limited to GB&I alone.
One of the biggest Continental contingents at this year’s Boys Championship came from Germany and their national junior coach, Ulrich Eckhardt, admits that the youngsters under his control face a similar scenario.
“We operate a system similar to here in the UK and I would say that in most instances it works very well,” he said as he watched the likes of Yannik Paul, Morten Schroetgens, Alexander Matlari and Maximilian Boegel advance to the latter stages at Notts.
“The secret is for the coaches at different levels to work together. I would say that is what normally happens but I would admit that sometimes we do have problems when that relationship breaks down.
“In Denmark they do things differently,” he added. “The kids there get a choice. Six months after joining the national set-up they get to choose whether they want to work with a national coach or with their original coach.
“There are a lot of people who will tell you that is a better system but it only works if the standard of coaching at local level is high.”
My personal view is that GB&I’s current convoluted coaching system needs to be looked at. Having watched a great deal of amateur golf this summer I also believe that slow play is becoming increasingly endemic at elite amateur level (and elsewhere), which is why the R&A is to be applauded for reinforcing its efforts to try to stamp it out.
The R&A’s new stance would appear to be that if you are going to have slow play guidelines you may as well enforce them. We saw this at The Amateur Championship where former English Boys’ Stroke Play champion Nathan Kimsey was penalised a shot for infringing the slow play guidelines and at the Boys’ Championship officials appeared to have redoubled their efforts (a) to encourage competitors to play within those guidelines and (b) to punish persistent offenders.
It would now seem to have become the norm to employ more roving referees. The result of this initiative is that it is easier to spot, counsel and ultimately deal with offenders.
The R&A operates a policy whereby players are warned, then told they had been given a bad time before finally been penalised for a third offence. But even after all such warnings Jon Rahm and Cameron Long were penalised one shot during the stroke play stage of the Boys’ Championship and Pierre Mazier lost a hole for a similar infringement in the second round of match play.
Mazier is thought to be the first player ever to have been docked a hole for slow play under the Rules governing match play. There are those who would say it could – and should – have happened quite some time ago.


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