8 Ryder Cups & 91 Wins
Without doubt not a day goes by when I don’t think about Seve Ballesteros. The fact I actually got to coach him was a dream come true and I could write a book, no in fact two about all the things I learned from him. He was an absolute golfing genius, no question.
I was fortunate enough to travel to such events like the US Masters at Augusta, The Open, The Dubai Masters, Portuguese Open and many other events in Europe and it was incredible to see the aura that Seve had around him. When he walked into a room it was like the room just went quiet and everyone knew Seve was there.
The first time I had to coach him I flew in early to Dubai in 1998. I had been given a suite in the same hotel as Seve (The Jebel Ali) and on that day that we arrived we met up and we went swimming in the pool with Carmen (his then wife) and Javier his son. Seve was already showing me exercises in the pool for my back and I just couldn’t believe that I was swimming with my idol, it was quite surreal really.
The next morning I was actually physically sick with nerves as I realised that for me this was going to be the absolute pinnacle of my teaching career and as I walked onto the practice ground I felt a thousand eyes staring at me. Seve was great and I remember half way round he asked me if I wanted to stop and have something to eat. We sat for 20 minutes just me, Seve and the caddy and I remember him saying why did I look so nervous, it was an understatement. He would always say to me “Ian you must put sun lotion on your face”, “No Seve” I would answer and then he would stare at me and say… “No,no,no,no,no you really must put this on,yes,this is very important I tell you, you must wear this.” I would turn bright red within minutes on the course so in time he nicknamed me and introduced me as his AMIGO (friend) “The Lobster”
I remember every minute of that first week in Dubai in 1998 and everything he said, much of it I still have on film and at one stage we had quite a big discussion about a downswing move that he wasn’t happy with and when he questioned me I knew I right then I had to give him the right answers.
Ian Coaching Seve
Many times I have said I would have paid to coach Seve and what I learned in all my times with him has helped all the other lessons (especially professionals) that I have coached since. The video below epitomises how amazing he was. I was coaching him and he was playing two very tough bunker shots. What does he do ? He holes them both! Quite amazing, just watch and marvel as I ask him to play another shot.
We all use the word legend and genius too freely these days but I think 91 Wins, 8 Ryder Cups, 3 Opens, 2 Masters and being widely regarded as the man who changed European Golf, then genius is a massive understatement. It is hard to put into words just how much I have learned from coaching (in my opinion) the greatest player ever to play the game and indeed my golfing hero.
I counted Seve as a friend and often I sit and think about all the things he said to me and look at all the things he signed for me which bring back truly great memories. Seve Ballesteros…. Genius, legend, friend and for those lucky enough to get close to him, a real gentleman.