Stephen Gallacher’s coach is predicting the Ryder Cup will herald a new chapter in the three-time European Tour winner's career.
PGA professional Alan McCloskey has described this week’s showdown between Europe and the United States at Gleneagles as the 39-year-old’s destiny and a stepping-stone to reaching his full potential.
McCloskey is the long-serving pro at the Lanarkshire course Bothwell Castle where he combines a busy club pro role with coaching duties that see him look after a clutch of tour players in addition to Gallacher including Marc Warren and Scott Jamieson.
His players have notched up four tour wins in two-and-a-half years and Gallacher’s presence in Paul McGinley’s European team as a captain’s pick is the icing on the cake for the 47-year-old.
“It is a phenomenal story because Stephen is nearly 40 years of age, it’s his 18th year on tour, and you would have thought if it was going to happen for him it would have happened a long time ago,” said McCloskey.
“He was always classed as a golfer with lots of potential but until now it has not really happened for him but now here he is a Scot, in the Ryder Cup in Scotland – it’s a fairytale.”
“Although he has been round the block for ten years, he is ready for it. This will be the making of his golf career. I do believe he will go on to better and bigger things and will fulfil the potential he’s shown all those years ago.
“I’ve no doubts about him. In his mind, he is hugely excited about the whole thing. All his golf career he’s been destined for the big scene and this is the start of it.”
"There was a perception that his putting was an issue but there was nothing wrong with that." - Stephen Gallacher
For McCloskey, Gleneagles will mark his first visit to a Ryder Cup where he will have unique access inside the ropes and up close as Europe strive to retain the coveted trophy: “It’s going to be fantastic to see it up close, I’ve been to all the majors but there is something special about the Ryder Cup.
“I think it is going to be huge for the country and to have someone like Stephen Gallacher who is hugely popular with the crowd just adds to the spectacle. It would have been disappointing had we not had any Scot in the team.”
McCloskey has been working with Gallacher for just under three years, changing his ball flight to give a steeper angle of attack.
“The biggest thing we’ve worked on his ball flight. His ball flight angle into the green was too shallow. There was a perception that his putting was an issue but there was nothing wrong with that – he just wasn’t getting close enough to the flag because the angle was too shallow so he was either too short or too long.”
McCloskey, who started his career as an assistant at Airdrie Golf Club at 16, harboured playing ambitions of his own, winning the Scottish Assistants Championship and playing in the Open at 20 but at 21 decided he was wasn’t quite good enough.
“I didn’t hit if far enough so decided I was going to get a real job!” he said. “I’m very fortunate at Bothwell Castle. The club and members are very supportive and I’m a club pro through and through.
“I studied coaching for years and was fortunate to get involved in performance golf.
“It’s quite nice for the members, because they get to know the players and see them practice at the club and I think they always enjoy it seeing them play the course and they see just how good they are.”
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