Calum Hill “ticks all the boxes” as both a player and a worker and there’s still much more to come from the Perthshire pro, believes his coach Davie Burns.
Burns is “astounded” at how quickly Hill has adapted to radical swing changes he implemented when the two first came together at the start of 2020. The 26-year-old from Crook of Devon is reaping the benefits of that work in his breakthrough season on the European Tour.
It all came together for Calum at the Saudi event in February when in the highest ranked field on the Tour this season he finished in a tie for fourth, and put in the last piece of the puzzle in veteran caddie Phil “Wobbly” Morbey.
‘He’s got a great team around him now’
“Calum played so well in a high profile event with so many great names,” said Burns. “And he finished off with an eagle, which shows you something.
“Originally in Saudi he didn’t think he was even getting in. It was just luck `Wobbly’ was looking for a bag, he’d just left Thorbjorn (Olesen). That was a lucky match up. He’s got a great team around him now.”
Hill originally approached Burns in Abu Dhabi a year earlier as the player was embarking on his first full season on the European Tour, having qualified from the Challenge Tour. But Burns was not initially overly impressed with what he had to work with.
“He asked for a couple of hours of my time and I was very honest with him, I ripped his swing to bits,” recalls Burns. “I told him what I would recommend short-term and long-term, and to his credit he’s bought into to it completely.
“Really, I’ve been astounded how quickly he’s got a swing I’m happy with. For me that’s why he’s had so many finishes these last few months, and there’s more to come.
‘He’s been through major surgery’
It's how it ended last time out in Denmark in 2019 and its where it'll pick up again
⏰ Thurs tee times
— Bounce (@bouncespmgt) May 25, 2021
“He’s been through major surgery with his swing. Covid was probably good for us, because with the time off we were able to make big changes, and it meant he had an extra season (of eligibility).
“We said if we can do it now, great, because we’ll never get this chance again. It was maybe the only good thing to come out of all that.”
“I’m just delighted with his development. I think Calum’s got a great future ahead of him. He’s ambitious, he’s a grafter, he ticks all the boxes.”
Since Saudi Hill has had five more top 12 finishes, is 27th in the Race to Dubai and this week is headed back to Denmark where he won on the Challenge Tour.
“Before Calum had a destructive hook with the driver, he could get one a round,” says Burns. “That’s enough to kill you off, and you’ve always got it at the back of your mind wondering when it’s going to come.
‘I’m very relaxed watching him now’
“He’s worked hard and got rid of that now, and I’m very relaxed watching him because I don’t see the bad shots being as destructive any more.
“I want all my pupils to know their game so well. Whatever level they’re at, I want them to know when they’ve hit a bad shot and what’s caused it.
“At the top level, all the psychology and fitness are great, but there’s no substitute for good technique. The better your technique, the smaller the gap to your best golf.”
‘The numbers playing at junior level are very worrying’
Burns has struck gold with Hill and with his other pupil Robert MacIntyre, but he’s conscious that Scotland needs more players like them.
“I work with Stevie Gallacher’s Foundation and I’m very lucky because I get to cherry pick the best. Some of them are technically incredible at a very young age,” he said.
“More foundations like Paul Lawrie’s and Stevie’s are absolutely essential. The numbers playing junior level at clubs are very worrying.
“At Stevie and Paul’s events you’re getting 60-to-70 kids coming. To get boys and girls – especially girls – to be future club members, not just elite players, is essential.”