In 2012 there was as much chance of Sky Sports’ Presenter Kirsty Gallacher making the 2014 Ryder Cup golf team as her cousin Stevie. Out of form and way down the world rankings, Stevie had all the talent in the world but it wasn’t happening for him at the time.
However, having worked with him before, I knew how talented he was and that I could not only help him become a Ryder Cup level player, but that I could do it on a part-time basis within two years. Was this arrogance on my part? No, just an unshakeable belief in SightRight and what it can do to correct fundamental flaws in individual playing techniques across all sports to improve accuracy.
I first met Stevie in 2006, having been told by snooker legend Steve Davis – who I had also been working with – that SightRight would not just help snooker players, but also be the perfect aid to golfers around the globe. Steve Davis introduced me to his MatchRoom stable-mate Greg Owen and following his success in the Bayhill Invitational on the PGA Tour, Stevie Gallacher’s management company enlisted my help.
The improvement in Stevie’s game was instant with a R/Up finish in the British Masters at The Belfry. Stevie; like the majority of golfers had only been used to mainly working with swing and putting coaches on Tour, who, whilst having considerable expertise in their field, in my findings had very limited or no experience in the importance of eye dominance and how this has a massive effect on aiming, alignment, set-up, putting & swing mechanics, and ultimately, accuracy.
The lack of expertise in this area was best evidenced when around this time I worked with the English Golf Union and I asked all of their Regional and National coaches to address and set up to a basic 20ft putt. All of them failed to sight and set up for the putt accurately with perfectly square putter face to the line and at that point I knew there was a fundamental flaw in the game that I could correct using SightRight’s basic principles. I was ultimately proved right with Stevie being further proof that SightRight worked.
I continued working with Stevie through to 2008; however, he was experiencing issues with his health and management at the time, so our relationship ended. I was then also working with Ryder Cup heroes Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomerie. Both were out of form, outside the Top 100 on the European Tour OOM, Darren in particular hadn’t won a Title in five years. Within weeks of working with Darren, specifically on his putting, he won the 2008 Asian Open, with an amazing 45ft putt on the last, and 2 months later the 2008 KLM Open. Colin Montgomery soon enjoyed an upward turn in form too, finishing R/Up in the 2008 French Open. Both Darren and Colin now came into Ryder Cup wild card contention, somewhat controversially missing out as Nick Faldo picked the less experienced Paul Casey and Ian Poulter instead. Their experience may have helped a European side who ultimately lost that year’s campaign.
Whilst my time working with Darren (who also introduced me to Paul McGinley to work on his putting ahead of the PGA at Wentworth) and Colin convinced me more than ever that SightRight was the key to unlocking a golfers’ full potential, I was disappointed that their upturn in form had not ultimately resulted in Ryder Cup selection. I vowed that I would make that happen with the next golfer I worked with and that is what happened when Stevie Gallacher requested my help again in 2012.
Back then, the odds on Stevie making the 2014 Ryder Cup team were very slim. Yet, to the surprise of the golfing world, Stevie’s story started to unfold. His 2013 Dubai Desert Classic win was impressive; as were an increasing number of Top 10s not only leading up to this Win but during the season, including a R/Up finish at The Glen. A successful defence of his Dubai Title early this year, a Top 20 in the Open had commentators talking about his obvious chances. His final round performance in Italy to finish 3rd secured Captain Paul McGinley’s pick for the 2014 European squad.
The tools to do this were always at his disposal; Stevie is one of the most naturally talented players out there, but what SightRight proves is that natural talent is not enough and that the way a golfer, and indeed any coach, understands how they sight and aim perfectly to then set up with perfect alignment is the key to any eventual success.
When I met with Stevie again back in August 2012, we formulated a two-year plan, with Ryder Cup selection being the ultimate aim. I introduced Chris Hoy’s Olympic performance strategy – ‘Making the Bike go Faster’ to focus Stevie on doing the right things. With Stevie having failed to make eight tournament cuts before we resumed our partnership, many scoffed at my intention, but within months his progress was clear: a significantly improved overall Stroke average of 69.6, which was equal to the best in the world and a Putting average improvement of one stroke per Round.
Poor sighting and alignment affects the mechanics of a golf swing, or putting stroke, resulting in manipulation and inaccuracy. We worked relentlessly on Stevie’s sighting line, alignment and club and putter face, making sure that he aimed and set up perfectly on line every time. Along with his swing coach, we developed 3 key strokes in Stevie’s game for improved accuracy. The results were phenomenal: it is the golfing equivalent of adding a telescopic sight to a rifle, and the results in Stevie’s case speak for themselves
Many hours spent at both Kingsfield and Archerfield Golf Clubs working on Stevie’s short to medium game honed these three specific shots: the soft draw, the soft fade, and the straight hit. The intention of this was to get Stevie, already an accurate Putter following our Putting work, onto the green as near to the Flag as possible.
Our motto became one which was used in the film The Patriot: “Aim small, miss small”, the intention being to make sure that his aiming, sightline and fundamental stance was correct, with Stevie’s talent then doing the rest without any need for theatrics.
The main area that SightRight Golf & Putting Coaching has to offer over and above current swing coaching is the focus on first identifying a player’s individual ‘Sighting Line’, regardless of eye dominance, then harmonising perfect sighting with swing and putting mechanics.
Unknowingly sighting a cross a line of aim leads to all sorts of issues; especially with swing and putting mechanics. Once a player learns to sight perfectly on what I call their ‘Sighting Line’, their swing mechanics and putting stroke can be quickly harmonised to improve overall accuracy. They can also self diagnose many problems in their game simply using the sighting tool. In most cases, long after my one-on-one sessions are done, players continue to reap the benefits, like a computer with superior upgraded software, as can be seen when Stevie ultimately qualified for the Ryder Cup a year after my job with him was done.
This was a dream come true for Stevie, following in his Uncle Bernard’s footsteps. It was mission accomplished and vindication for all of the hard work that we had put in together.
Whether you choose to believe all the hoopla of expensive equipment and sports science, the one thing above all else that matters in an accuracy sport such as golf, is being able to sight your target properly regardless of eye dominance, and to be able to set up perfectly aligned to the target ‘point’ to execute an accurate stroke time and time again.
There is only one product out there that can help you achieve this: its name is SightRight, endorsed by Darren Clarke – 2011 Open Champion. It is available now to help all golfers improve accuracy across their whole game, just like 2014 Ryder Cup star – Stevie Gallacher.