The Trilby Tour catches up with Pro Champ Phil Archer who ends 2009 on a double-high - not only winning the Professional Event of the Trilby Tour but also becoming a father to a beautiful baby boy!
A big congratulations is in order for the seasoned pro who first came on board in 2008 as one of the panel commentators. This year he decided to enter as a competitor outright and went on to emerge victorious as Pro Champion. Is there nothing Archer can't do once he sets his mind to it?
Photo Credit: McVirne Etienne
"Stay in the moment. And whatever happens, don’t let your mind wander"
In our exclusive interview Phil Archer passes on his tips to the amateurs, talks about his game of play against Amateur Ross Higham and why it’s important to stay in the moment if you want to win the game.
Congratulations Phil on your victory and also on the latest addition to your family.
Thank you, it’s only just come out of hospital so it’s all a bit up and down here at the moment. It’s a boy and we’ve called him Jack David Archer.
Tell us how you got into golf
Through my dad, he shoved a club into my hand when I was eight. I didn’t take it up properly until I was 14, I thought I was going to be a footballer but it didn’t work out ‘cause I always ended up being a sub haha!
When did you realise you wanted to turn professional?
I came out of school and did six months of joinery and I soon realised I wanted to do something else. At the time I was 18yrs old and playing off 12 handicap. Then I got a job in the pro shop as an assistant under Derek Cooper who used to be a European tour pro. I looked up to him and he gave me the desire to go ahead and do it. I went on to get my handicap down from 12 to plus 1 in 14 months.
"I thought I was going to be a footballer but it didn’t work out ‘cause I always ended up being a sub haha!"
If you weren’t a golfer what would you have been?
Probably a joiner working in the family trade as my dad had his own building firm. I went straight out of school into that. But I didn’t enjoy it. My job at the shop switched me on to a new direction and a desire to play golf. Golf had always been a passion of my dad’s as he played quite a bit. I’m glad now that he pushed me into it at the start.
Will you be passing on golf down to your own son?
Well I might stick a club in my son’s hand when he’s older. If he takes it up he takes it up, but if he does I’ll try and support him as much as I can.
Describe yourself in a sentence.
I persevere. I work hard and I stick at things, I don’t give up. It took me 9 years to get my card on the big tours, before that I was a golf pro just playing round the north of England.
Photo Credit: McVirne Etienne
"I persevere. I work hard and I stick at things, I don’t give up."
What do you think of the Trilby Tour?
It’s a great tournament and it has just got bigger and bigger. William’s improved it every time since the three years it’s been going. He’s full of enthusiasm and you can see he loves the tournament to death. He puts everything into it so it’s always going to be a success. This year he had European Tour Players on board and everyone who has seen the Trilby Tour has loved it. He’s on the right track whatever he’s doing. I’ve also worn his gear on tour for the past three years and he’s been a great support to me as well.
Unlike most tournaments, the Trilby Tour takes place all in one day. How does that affect you as a player?
It’s a sprint compared to a marathon. In one day you’ve only got 18 holes. There are no safety shots. Every hole is a birdie chance. The idea of the final shootout makes you go for it from the first tee shot, otherwise it will be a nothing day for you. The pressure’s on right from the start.
It’s a Winner Takes All competition – an unusual format in the world of golf?
But that’s precisely what makes it exciting - everyone at my club who has seen it has said how good the viewing was because of the Winner Takes All format. There’s simply no safety play.
Does it put more pressure on you?
I kind of relax more if anything - if it doesn’t work it doesn’t work, but I have to take on that there’s no bail out. As long as you commit yourself, as long as you attack the golf course all day long, then you kind of rest knowing that’s all that you can do.
How do you cope with the pressure and stress?
I work with sports psychologist Karl Morris and I try to stay in the moment - don’t get ahead of yourself. Don’t let your mind wander. The only important thing is the shot you’re about to hit. It’s all about how you react to a situation. Not to let yourself get too high or too low. You learn to level your emotions out on the course.
"It’s a sprint compared to a marathon. There are no safety shots."
Sports psychology – does it really make all the difference?
Yes, I only wished I’d started sooner! I struggled along for twelve years as a pro before seeing Karl Morris who’s a golf pro himself - he’s been doing sports psychology for a long time and helps other players like Darren Clark and Graham Mcdowell as well. I see him once every three or four weeks. We play 9 hols and he tells me how I’m looking. He also comes along to a few events and watches my body language and how I’m handling the course. Before that I thought I knew it all - I thought I was playing good golf at the time but obviously I wasn’t.
What’s your routine before a game?
If the tournament’s on a Thursday then I arrive on the Tuesday morning. I practise 8-9 hours a day on the Tuesday and the Wednesday, going through the putting and get a good look at the golf course. Then I get warmed up, have a stretch and a forty-five minute practise before I go out.
Ross is a good player; he’s a nice young lad and started really well but it was strange to see some of the decisions he made
You played with amateur Ross Higham who got through his own Amateur round to play with the pros. Any comments on his play?
Ross is a good player; he’s a nice young lad and started really well on the first few holes. He hit the ball well and had a good swing but it was strange to see some of the decisions he made. At certain holes he set himself up closer than me on the green but ultimately it was a trickier shot or a tougher putt.
What advice have you got for Ross and other amateurs in a similar scenario?
It’s important that you attack the course sensibly. Familiarise yourself with the course before you play. I knew the course as I had already looked at it on the plan. You come to respect certain holes more than others.
Also that uphill puts are easier to control than downhill putts. It’s about positioning your ball in the right place. For instance sometimes I would get a little defensive on the first shot but that would set me off for the second shot on the green. This will come with experience. Afterwards he (Ross) said it was great to watch and he stayed to watch the playoff.
"It’s important that you attack the course sensibly. Familiarise yourself with the course before you play"
What are you doing now career-wise?
This year’s been pretty average, I’ve had to go back to the tour school. My wife’s been pregnant so the main focus has been on the baby but now its switched back to the tour school and then ill get the card back.
Do you study footage of yourself after events?
Sometimes I look at old footage from back in 07 when I’m trying to get my swing back. When you hit a ball well you look at your footage so you can replicate it. Your coach films you and you playback and watch what it was that made it work
What do you do when you’re not playing golf?
I like to relax at home, or go to some Man United games as I’m a big fan. I have a young family now so that will take up all my time. For the past five years I have been away 33 weeks of the year so time at home is precious to me.
You’re a pro yourself, but who do you look up to for inspiration?
When I was younger I followed Nick Faldo’s career a lot and I’m also a big fan of Lance Armstrong. I’ve read all his books they’re fantastic – he talks about the adversity he’s been through and how he’s come out the other end and went on to win the Tour de France. The ultimate guy has to be Tiger though – he’s raised the bar on every level in golf – fitness, mentally and game-wise.
Any final words of advice to the amateurs?
Stay in the moment. If you’re playing socially then switch off at a certain point. Within ten yards of the golf ball I switch off and I just go in thinking about the golf shot. And whatever happens, don’t let your mind wander.