26 Mar 2021 | Professional golf |

Need for speed no monkey business

by Mark Hayes

Anthony Quayle monkey business
"A monkey driving a Ferrari..." (This image has been digitally altered)

Anthony Quayle’s coach used to say his protégé was golf’s equivalent to a Formula 1 driver at the wheel of a Holden Barina.

It tells you everything you need to know about Quayle – as a person and as a new powerhouse ball striker – that his team now views him as more akin to “a monkey driving a Ferrari”.

Quayle, 26, thinks Ken Berndt’s description is both hilarious and strangely appropriate as they go about polishing the product that his game will eventually become.

And his transition from Barina to Ferrari might actually be understated.

The Northern Territory-born Gold Coaster won his adopted home state’s Open last year not long after embarking on the big change.

A year before that, Berndt and physio Sean Horan agreed that Quayle’s game could withstand the pressures of international golf if – and only if – he could get his ball speed off the tee to around 170 miles per hour (the accepted golf measurement).

“I’ve always been quite tall, but I haven’t been that strong and was never long, even in early days as a pro,” Quayle recalled.

“I used to swing it at 108, 109 (miles per hour club head speed) or really rip it and get to 110, but that was my ceiling.

“We got that up slowly and that got the ball (speed) up to 170 … which did turn out to be sufficient to hold my own in Japan, as `KB’ had predicted.

“But my ambition is to play in the United States and the way the game is trending, the most valuable thing you can do to gain shots on the field is to gain 20m off the tee, statistics say.

“So we kept at it and worked really hard for 18 months on just gaining speed and last week I hit my personal best of 128 (mph).

“The goal is to get to mid-130s if I need to, but to sit around that mid-to-high 120s out on course.

“But my ball speed is at least in the mid-180s now and occasionally up into the 190s.

“It makes a massive difference.”

One look at the strapping Queenslander on course now and you’d have no choice but to concur.

He has visibly gained 20-30m off the tee and can match many of his peers with his 3-wood and even a few with his trusty 2-iron that now runs out to 260m (yep!!).

What’s more, he can drill that 2-iron on to the short grass more than 90 per cent (yep!!) of the time.

Having that belief in his newfound technique and how he can `overpower’ his opponents almost at a whim is, as Quayle puts it, “awesome”.

“As I started to get clubhead speed, I got a bit excited about it,” he said.

“KB described it as me once being a Formula 1 driver driving a Holden Barina, but now he says I’m a bit of a monkey driving a Ferrari because I got so excited with the extra game I had and was doing stupid stuff.

“He references that a bit and I like it because whenever I start doing that silly stuff, it’s like the monkey has shown his face a bit and I need to rein him in a little bit.”

That’s the playful Quayle.

But there’s much more to it when you prod just a little further into the actual thought and physical training behind the numbers.

Sooooo much more …

“There is a neural patterning that needs to be reworked and developed,” said Quayle as his golf nerd hat is set aside for that of a quasi-biomechanist.

“Quite often when we started, I would try to hit it harder and my clubhead speed would get slower by a mile an hour. That is because my sequencing, the timing, my efficiency on to the ball was lost in the extra effort I was putting in.

“So we learnt that it’s about timing, using ground force, coming down and planting (weight) into your left heel, rotating with your hips, having your trunk follow and then your shoulders and then into your hands and then that last unbending and whip that you create at impact.”

Still with it?

Good, that’s part one.

“Part two is to put on a little more size and getting stronger in the gym and then part three is probably the hardest, which is actually training yourself that you can hit the ball harder.

“There’s a barrier in your mind because we know how penalising golf can be if you miss it off the course (way wide of fairways), so that creates a restriction of freedom if you try to hit it hard.

“Even on the range when you’ve got zero real fears, it’s almost built into your mind as a professional that, with a driver, a big fan right or a duck hook is a very bad result.

“So for me, one of the tricks was that we used super speed sticks and tried to swing them as hard as we could a couple of times a week.

“The next thing was to trick my mind to overcome that barrier. We all can make a practice swing way harder than when you’ve got a ball in front of you, so using Trackman (measuring device), I teed a ball lower and then swung as hard as I could, firstly over the ball and then trying to just hit it so I could get Trackman to register.

“The shortest (hit) I’ve managed so far was three feet and that was just nicking the top of it.

“The Trackman then reads the clubhead speed and as soon as my mind sees that number and that I can break 120 miles an hour doing that, then I’m able to repeat that on the golf ball.

“So gradually, never in a hurry, I’ve been able to increase those numbers.

“It’s actually very cool.”

Quayle says his short game was always the long suit of his amateur career, but that he was “never considered a good ball striker”.

“I considered myself a good scrambler, a good competitor, but really just grinding it out, so not having power these days is a pretty big weakness in my game.

“But now I’d consider myself one of the better ball strikers and longer guys on tour.

“I’ve probably done that and neglected my putting and short game a bit lately, which is probably why I’ve not been scoring as well these past few weeks.

“But (Thursday) was a good example, I shot three under and felt like I got nothing out of my round, whereas in previous years, I could absolutely wring the neck of my game and only shoot three under par.

“So for me I see that as a major positive and still with the opportunity to improve a few things.”

Doesn’t really sound like monkey business, does it?

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