One of the things that we’re most proud of at Finca Cortesin is our Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy. With the golf course and club still shut, we took the chance to sit down with our director of instruction, Ricardo Jimenez Eliaeson, to unearth a few secrets about his life in golf and coaching.
Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us. Firstly, can you give us an insight into your family background, who inspired you to follow a career in golf and how you got into coaching?
I was born in Stockholm in Sweden but moved to Spain when I was three years old and have been here ever since.
I started to play golf in 1986 at Torrequebrada Golf Club and, believe it or not, my first teacher was Miguel Angel Jiménez. I owe so much to the Jiménez family and without their support in my youth, I would never have played golf. I did all kind of sports growing up but, when I tried golf, I was hooked immediately. From the very beginning, I understood that I could never master this fantastic game and that I was not playing against other players but that I was playing against the golf course, and I think that was one of the best lessons I have received from Miguel Angel Jimenez.
When did you know you first had a thing for golf?
This is one of those questions that is very difficult to answer but, in my case, I always knew that I could be a very competitive player because I love competition. I consider myself a very good competitor but, having said that, it’s one thing to play against amateurs and quite another to play against professionals. I remember one tournament when I hit two drives in a row to rough on the left-hand side. In both situations, my ball was deep in trouble and I had to use my sand wedge to leave myself exactly 100 metres to the flag. In both distance wedges approaches I left my ball next to the pin, that is when I knew I could become a much better player.
Being director of instruction at a Jack Nicklaus Academy, how does this association help in your coaching and your student’s development?
I have always been fortunate enough to be surrounded by great teachers. Many of them were more technical teachers while some were more ‘feeling’ teachers and others were more mental teachers. I have also been fortunate to have seen all the best teachers over the last 20 years and, together, they gave me a pretty good understanding of the whole picture.
Golf is not about instruction; it is about teaching people. If you teach people, you can help them to improve their games but if you keep teaching instruction, it will be very difficult to get good players and the best of their games. We are all different; we are built differently, we think differently, we understand differently, we learn differently so, therefore, we have to adapt to our students. Nicklaus Academies help me to deliver a more comprehensive and easier message to players. In general, coaches make golf too complicated and use terminology that doesn’t help, so I consider myself more like a skilled developer coach. If a student can improve their skills around their game, then I think they will be happier because they will feel that they can perform much better. That is my passion, to make them better.
What’s the greatest joy you get from teaching golf?
You probably will not believe it but the greatest joy I get from teaching is when you can get players striking the ball like the Tour players (with this, I mean the proper sound of the club hitting the ball and then the turf) and then turning around to me, with a big smile on their face, and telling me “What a shot”.
What’s the one thing you’d like to teach your kids about golf that will help them through life?
I believe golf is like life, a long path with a lot of obstacles in the journey. You are going to fall down plenty of times and you have to learn to stand up and keep walking. Do it step by step, grind, be resilient and enjoy the journey because that is when you are going to learn about you and your game/life.
Tell us a story about your last non-golf adventure.
Since I was 20, I always had the dream of going on holiday to the Black Forest in southern Germany. Last year, knowing that my kids were getting older, we planned the trip to the Black Forest and the Austrian Alps so we could spend 10 days traveling in a car and living together. It was a fantastic experience that I highly recommend to anyone. It was fantastic to be able to spend some quality time with my wife and children, and we fell in love with the Black Forest and the Austrian landscapes.
Visit Jack Nicklaus Academy at Finca Cortesin for more details.