[Video Report] Profile: Knight from the wrong side of the tracks

PHUKET: The last thing on the mind of 14-year-old Nick Faldo, when he was on his knees rummaging around in bushes looking for lost golf balls so he could practice his swing, was to one day be kneeling in front of the Queen of England to receive a knighthood.

Hailing from ‘the wrong side of the tracks’ in Hertfordshire, England, Sir Nicholas Alexander Faldo MBE was awarded his title for his services to the sport of golf in 1998 after unprecedented success with 40 professional wins, including 30 victories on the European Tour and six Major championships.

Since then, he has become a television pundit on CBS Sports and the BBC for major golf championships, and has even launched his own brand of fine wine bearing the distinctive Faldo shield of six vertical stripes in claret and green that represent his career wins.

The technology of today is helping golfers, and is a far cry from the way Sir Nick began; hitting foraged balls all day, every day in all weathers. Even the freezing snow and rain of Britain’s horrid winters were no deterrent for the determined teenaged Faldo, who had to hide his passion for golf through fear of ridicule, but by age 15 he had made the firm decision to make a career out of golf and began taking on the pros. After leaving school at 16, it wasn’t long before he was competing against top golfers such as Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.

Since retiring from the championship circuit, Sir Nick has been on a mission to make golf more accessible to the general public, especially to young people. In 1996 he launched the Faldo Series – a not-for-profit organization that offers opportunities to young people through golf and to help identify and nurture the next generation of champions.

The Faldo Series now comprises 40 annual tournaments in 30 countries in Europe, the Middle East, North and South America and Asia with more than 7,000 young golfers aged 12 to 21 taking part at the last count.

His most recent role as Laguna Golf’s Brand Ambassador brought him back to Phuket, recently hosting an exclusive golf weekend at Laguna Phuket, which included a golf clinic and sunset cocktails on the course’s 18th hole.

Sir Nick’s affiliation with Banyan Tree and Laguna Golf has been instrumental in the growth of golf in Asia, which has seen the sport’s popularity and accessibility grow steadily in the region over the past few years.

To achieve a more widespread acceptance of golf, Sir Nick is working with Banyan Tree to design smaller, more family-friendly golf courses, such as 12-hole, nine-hole and par-three courses, which make the sport a more sociable affair, rather than the man of the house disappearing all day to play 18 holes.

Television has also helped bring tournament golf to the masses. There are about 25 million people in the United States who are interested in golf but don’t know what to do next, and that’s the market Sir Nick aims to penetrate with his more accessible and sociable course designs.

Now working with Banyan Tree, the biggest supporter of young golfers in the region, Sir Nick is back to helping other youngsters get into golf at a grassroots level.

Banyan Tree Phuket is hosting the Faldo Series qualifying tournaments. Some of those golfers will likely be local students who met Sir Nick on his most recent visit.

So what are the secrets to his success?

Practice, self belief and determination are the three principles he holds dearest. Practice hard enough and gain more self belief. Get good enough at what you do and you gain more confidence, and more practice means you know what you can do before you even take the shot.

— Nick Davies

Thai Life
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Legacy Phuket Gazette

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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