An Ode to Sir Nick Faldo…
In the era that I grew up in, you were either a Faldo man or a Norman man. Today, you’re a Tiger man or a Mickelson man. For me, it was Faldo all the way!
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n the era that I grew up in, you were either a Faldo man or a Norman man. Today, you’re a Tiger man or a Mickelson man. For me, it was Faldo all the way. Mizuno staff bag, TP19’s irons which I only laid to rest last year after 15 years of use. Working on drills with a towel under my arms, pre-setting the club and turning to the top, beach balls in-between my legs for stability. You remember these drills…. we all did them back in the early 90’s. For me, it was all about fairways and greens, and wearing my opponents down during competition. That’s the man I wanted to be like!

I’m Australia born, and unlike most young Australian’s who grew up idolising Greg Norman, I favoured the way Faldo went about his business. He left no stone unturned in an effort to reach the pinnacle of the game. So, as a role model in Faldo, I drew many similarities to the way I liked to do things in life. I wasn’t one to just take in the information; I needed to know how things work! I wasn’t afraid to pull things apart in an effort to piece them back together. Many of you have read the story of Faldo receiving a bike in his early teens and pulling it apart to understand it and then he put it back together. This mirrored his decision to remodel his golf swing. When in the height of his professional career (he was the no.1 player in Europe and on the threshold of winning majors), he decided to pull apart his swing and piece it back together. This was under the guidance of David Leadbetter. Despite this radical swing change, Faldo came through possessing one of the most technically sound and rhythmical swings of the modern era. This was a testament to the man’s dedication and self-belief.

I idolised Faldo – and as mentioned, modelled myself to be as much like him as I could. As a young teenager, I began working for Mizuno. I started carrying the 10.5” staff bag and used the TP19 irons (Faldo used these), back then these were the purest clubs and equipment on the market. Does anyone remember Pringle clothing? I think I kept them in business and would wear their jumpers (sweaters) even when the weather didn’t call for it. I’d step in to hit shots with my right hand on the club, and then switch the club to my left hand, as I approached the ball, as Faldo did, and would be sure to add that slight tilt of the head before I moved the club away. Looking back, it’s amazing how we mimic the great players we idolised. From golf clubs, to swing, to dress and mannerisms; I had them all down pat.

For me, it was all about fairways and greens, and wearing my opponents down during competition. That’s the man I wanted to be like!”.

One of my fondest memories of Faldo was during the 1992 Open Championship at Muirfield Village, Scotland. Having started the day with a 4 shot lead, after record rounds of 66, 64 and 69 he found himself 2 shots behind John Cook with 4 holes left to play. Needing to play what Faldo called the “best 4 holes of my life” he proceeded to hit a majestic half 5 iron to just 3 feet. Faldo went on to play the next 4 holes in 2 under and win his 5th major, in a tough battle that showed his emotional side. That shot really typified Faldo, feel, precision, shot making and showing the mental strength that proved him to be so strong down the stretch.

Click below to view video:

Nick Faldo – British Open 1992

Faldo was one of the few players that had an intimidation factor over his opponents”.

Faldo was one of the few players that had an intimidation factor over his opponents. Be it the 18 pars he made to win his first open championship or the way he went about his business, he was a focused golfer who prided himself on “mistake proof golf”. He always seemed to have the blinkers on, both on and off the golf course. Speaking to an assistant of David Leadbetter’s recently, who’d spent countless hours watching Faldo take lessons, he told me that he’d bump into Faldo on the range and he wouldn’t even acknowledge him. I believe that’s the world he lived in back then, that’s all he knew in order to stay focused on the job at hand. That’s the recipe that worked for him. He won a total of 6 major championships, 3 Masters and 3 Open Championships – all over a 10 year time span -with 40 wins worldwide. This was a pretty impressive strike rate – with 6 majors out of those 40 wins and 3 of his 6 wins on American soil being major championships.

When we see Faldo now, he’s certainly a changed man. He is now the lead analyst for CBS and the Golf Channel, a platform that allows us to see the lighter side of Nick. His quirky comments and humorous personality really shine through. The Faldo Series, which has been running since 1996, allows developing young golfers from around the world to have the opportunity to compete globally under Faldo’s banner, and gain valuable travel experience and life lessons along the way. I love seeing Faldo in the public eye and giving back every day to the golfing communities.


 

Recently I tweeted Faldo regarding his dedication to his game and practice habits, asking him:

I think his response is one which shows Faldo’s attitude to life. He is funny and quirky, and there is much to be learnt from Faldo (recently knighted – Sir Nicholas Alexander Faldo for his services to golf) and the evolution of one of the greatest golfers of the modern era.


 

I’m sure there are thousands more who admired Faldo, feel free to share this if your were a Faldo or Norman fan, would be great to hear your comments:

14 Comments


  1. Jun 9, 2011
    12:55 am

    PJ

    SG,

    this is why we love the game and you have made your passion very clear here in this piece.

    Thanks for sharing.

    PJ


    • Jun 9, 2011
      1:08 am

      steven

      Thanks PJ, plenty to be learnt from these past legends of the game


  2. Jun 9, 2011
    1:48 am

    Ross

    Steve; extremely well written and very interesting as well.


  3. Jun 9, 2011
    1:04 pm

    Daniel

    Faldo all the way. Even after the playing carrear his media is very good. It’s funny insightful and never has a bad word about anyone. If there ever was a roll model, it’s not Norman, Woods, or Couples. It is Sir Nick. That is who I’ll tell my little boy about. He is someone worth talking about


  4. Jun 10, 2011
    1:03 pm

    Lidia

    Even I rem the pringle gear 🙂
    Well written Steve, passionate and v v true to the era and of your childhood xxoo


    • Jun 10, 2011
      1:17 pm

      steven

      Thanks Sis, this was such an easy blog to write xo


  5. Jul 9, 2011
    10:17 am

    phil hopkins

    Dear Steve
    I loved this article, thank you. My personal favourite Faldo moment was the two iron across the creek in the final round of 1996 Masters (I believe it was the 13th). After the discussion with Fanny about a possible five wood, all doubt was banished, a perfectly executed swing under the most extreme pressure. The lighter side of Sir Nick is shown in the video “At least we’ve got that on file” where the young girl accidentally hits Nick on the ankle during a lesson. He’s so concerned that she won’t be upset. Classy guy.


    • Jul 9, 2011
      3:32 pm

      steven

      Thanks for the feedback Phil much appreciated, also one of my favorites was the one you mentioned. Cheers Steven


  6. Sep 19, 2011
    12:56 am

    Jeff J

    Steve:
    Thoroughly enjoyed your “Ode” as I share the same sentiments for Nick Faldo. Always admired the way he swung the club and played the game; patterned my own after his as I was never going to pound the ball 300 yards off the tee. Faldo’s “A Swing For Life” provided all I needed to know. Also went the Mizuno route, playing MP-29s for a number of years. In fact, I still have them in the garage and doubt I’ll ever part with them as they are such an iconic blade.

    I followed Nick during the Pro-Am at La Costa in 1996 when he finished second to Mark O’Meara in the Mercedes Championship while playing Mizuno’s T-Zoid irons. Watched in complete awe as Nick shot 65 during that practice round, when in fact he could have gone as low as 63 or 62. The manner in which he maneuvered around the course that day was surgical in every sense of the word. Just about every approach shot, regardless of length, was struck and flighted with such precision and control that I was totally mesmerized by Nick’s proficiency with the irons. I had never witnessed such a display firsthand and have yet to observe anything that even comes close. Truly one of the all-time best ball-strikers of any generation.


    • Sep 19, 2011
      2:03 am

      steven

      Hi Jeff,
      Thanks do much for your comments, I really enjoyed your story on Nick. Seems like we both idolised the great man for many reasons.
      All the best
      Steven


  7. Sep 19, 2011
    3:44 am

    Jeff J

    Appreciate the acknowledgment Steven; it’s nice to chat with someone who holds Nick in the same lofty regard as I do. Despite the public’s perception of Nick’s personality during his heyday, and we both know, for the most part, that it wasn’t always complimentary, I had the utmost respect for him for his ability to totally ignore that stuff and completely focus on his golf game and drive to be the best in the world. Very similar to Ben Hogan’s persona, wouldn’t you agree? Except we now know Nick has a wicked sense of humor!

    I followed Nick again at La Costa earlier this decade while Fanny was still on the bag and he was accompanied by his swing coach who videotaped every single shot. Again, another example of how this meticulous attention to detail contributed to his success.

    In closing, you may want to access this link for some info and wonderful anecdotes about Nick. It’s what eventually led me to your site and the well-written “Ode”.
    http://www.golfwrx.com/forums/topic/159978-nick-faldos-equipment/

    Regards,
    Jeff


  8. Sep 21, 2011
    2:52 am

    steven

    Hi Jeff,

    Yeah I would agree for sure very Hogan like in his approach, it’s great to see the different side of Nick now. Thanks for sharing your Faldo story at LaCosta, I was lucky enough to see Nick a bunch of times in Australia and he was just a supreme iron player to watch.

    Will take a look at the link thanks for sharing.

    Cheers

    SG

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