Distance learning for Wilkinson

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 12:00 26/12/2013

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Professional Tim Wilkinson and his coach Andre White work perfectly happily together - from afar.

But both agree, following Lydia Ko's split with her coach Guy Wilson, that the arrangement doesn't work for everyone.

And both qualified their remarks by saying they were not privy to the reasons for the public separation.

Wilkinson will be in his ninth season as a pro in the United States when he tees off in Honolulu next month. And for all of that time, White, the Manawatu Golf Club head professional, has been Wilkinson's coach back in Palmerston North.

All up, including Wilkinson's amateur career, they have been together in harmony for close to 20 years.

White has occasional gone to Florida to see his man, but said it would be a big call for a coach to jump on planes and travel to the US frequently.

"It's impossible and the cost would be horrendous."

Now they mainly communicate using Facetime, White watching Wilkinson at practice via a TV screen in the Manawatu clubhouse. That achieves almost everything except picking up ball flight and it works because White knows Wilkinson so well.

Where Wilkinson is very independent, it might not work with top Manawatu amateur Josh Munn, who is more hands-on.

Wilkinson said he had worked with someone in the United States, but that's about it.

"I tried using someone at the start of this year, got some different information and Andre helped me get back on track," Wilkinson said.

"He knows my tendencies, my nuances.

"Everyone's different. I like my own space and I wouldn't want him there fulltime."

White said he can work with his man for 1 to two hours, and then leave him to it.

Wilkinson stressed that Ko is only 16 and is at a stage in her career where she probably needs someone working for her at every tournament.

"That's a big commitment for a coach coming from here."

White's impression is that Ko likes her teaching to be hands-on whereas Wilkinson is "a big-picture type of guy" who, once he is on the right track, likes to work on it by himself.

White doubted that Wilson, a teaching pro at the Golf Institute at Albany, would have been in a position to dedicate himself 100 per cent to Ko.

He said the time it would take to look after a touring pro would make it a fulltime job.

White said his arrangement with Wilkinson suits him because he is a club pro. That entails all sorts of other work including teaching beginners, and he gets to go home afterwards.

But there are many coaches who make their living from being tour players' coaches and it is a business for them.

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Flying to the US up to 12 times a year isn't for White.

"And if I went there all the time, it wouldn't be for him. In our cases it works well being apart and gives me time to sit back."

There are other types of relationships - Col Swatton coached top Australian Jason Day as a youngster and now caddies and coaches for him.

- Manawatu Standard

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