Ever wondered what it takes to be a pro golfer? Well, Mornington Peninsula Magazine caught up with a couple of 20-something ‘pros to be’ to chat about commitment, early morning starts and multiple visits to the physio over a breakfast fit for champions.
Alex Dudley-Bateman and Ben Murphy love it. Being outside. Hitting the ball with a club meant for position-perfect precision. Hanging on the greens, fairways and sometimes deep in the drink or a bunker. Both are currently doing a three-year PGA traineeship that involves desire, talent and time. You’ve got to put in a lot of time.
The PGA Trainee Program has evolved to become one of the world’s most recognised golf-related training programs. Many of the big names in the sport – think Greg Norman, John Senden and Nick O’Hern - have been through it. Alex and Ben are almost finished and have set their sights on very different futures.
“It’s a pretty demanding timetable,” says Alex, who wants a career as head professional coach. “We’re up early and at the Pro Shop (Portsea Golf Club) by 6.30am most mornings. Then there’s assignments – 30 to 35 per year - to complete. Subjects like business, coaching and management.”
And of course there’s getting out on the hallowed ground and swinging.
“I don’t go out there to come second,” says Ben, who has his sights set on the world tour. He won five tournaments in Victoria last year. “It’s all about finding form for me. Being out there and getting better.”
Both young men have been playing since they hit double digits and haven’t stopped since. I ask them what kind of mindset you need to pursue a sport that can lead to shoulder reconstructions and backs that don’t know when to quit burning. “I’m constantly at the physio,” says Alex – and that’s where he’s going after we finish breakfast. “Me too,” says Ben. “You’ve got to get to the gym to keep as fit as possible to try to prevent injury, although there’s never any guarantee.”
“It’s important to keep a positive attitude,” agrees Alex.
At an age when many young blokes are staying up late and sleeping in even later, these two young Peninsula men are deeply committed to the game and the lifestyle it can offer them. They’ve had to work hard and it will probably only get harder, but that isn’t a deterrent for either of these talented players. Their sponsors believe in them too, and supply them with clubs and fresh gear to prove it.
It’s a long way to the top of a sport that revolves around a small hole, a long club and a streamlined strategy - but these boys are on their way. They’re swinging it!