Thompson’s so proud of ex-pupil Donaldson

A golf coach who helped put Macclesfield’s Jamie Donaldson on the road to success will be eagerly watching his exploits at the Ryder Cup.

TOP COACH: Alan Thompson

TOP COACH: Alan Thompson

PGA Professional Alan Thompson shares a close bond with the former Cheshire County player stretching back more than two decades to when Donaldson first pitched up with  county juniors as a 17 year old playing off a six handicap.

Thompson, the former head PGA pro at Heswall  where he still coaches, helped Donaldson remodel his swing to equip him for the demands of competing on the European Tour.

“He wasn’t going to play Ryder Cup the way he was swinging it as a 17 year old,” recalls Thompson.

“But he worked really hard and completely revamped his swing over an 18 month period. By the end it became a very simple and effective swing which is pretty much what he’s got today.

“Jamie was very committed, near enough was not good enough and he grafted, hitting balls until he was blue in the face.

“I will be chuffed and delighted to see him tee off at Gleneagles, as he has earned it. He’s had tough times with his back injury and I remember a couple of times he came close to packing it in before he made his breakthrough on the Challenge Tour.

“Jamie has steel and determination. He’s one of those lads who fixes you with his eyes, and you think, I’d better get this right and inspires you to want to do the best you can.”

JAMIE DONALDSON

JAMIE DONALDSON

Thompson remembers the day he told Donaldson he thought he could play Ryder Cup.

“It was around 2003/04, he was hitting it great except for the odd one was leaking right which I thought was to do with set up but he said I couldn’t understand that shot.

“It was at that point that I said maybe it’s time for you to go to someone else because I told him ‘if there’s one thing I don’t want to do is be hanging on your coat tails because I think you can play Ryder Cup’.”

While Donaldson is no doubt set to savour the Ryder Cup experience, the biennial contest also has a special place in Thompson’s heart.

“My first Ryder Cup that I attended was at Birkdale in 1969 but probably my most memorable was The Belfry in 1985. My daughter was born in the morning and Sam Torrance holed ‘that’ putt in the afternoon so I spent the day in tears,” he said.

Thompson, at 66, remains passionate about coaching and works with Tour players Matt Baldwin, Matt Nixon and Simon Wakefield, having previously coached Paul Affleck, Tom Fleetwood and Lee Slattery.

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