An unheralded PGA pro with a passion for the short game has been given a dream invite to speak in front of 1,000 fellow pros at the PGA of America’s teaching and coaching summit in Orlando.
James Ridyard, who lives in Buckinghamshire and is attached to The Bedford Golf Club, will share a stage with some of the sport’s biggest names including Butch Harmon, Sean Foley and Jim McLean during the two-day conference at Orange County Exhibition Centre from January 18-19.
The 37-year-old will present his findings based on extensive research on the wedge game (from 70 yards in), which has formed part of his Short Game Secrets venture with New York-based John Graham.
Ridyard came to the attention of the summit organisers after Golf Digest top 100 coach Mike Adams heard great things about one of his seminars in Denmark earlier in the summer.
“The invite came out of the blue,” said Ridyard. “It’s a great opportunity to present the findings and see how well it is received by fellow pros and where they can take it in their coaching.
“The most exciting thing for me is that the selection I have been fortunate enough to receive is based upon nothing more than the strength of the information, I’m not a household name, not even a pro shop name! Yet I’m now in the process of condensing day’s worth of information into a one hour programme, ready for the scrutiny of over 1,000 of my peers including a huge number that I have looked up to since day one.”
The research in question involved analysing the data of hundreds of tour players specifically on what they do in and around the green.
“It’s systemising the short game, we did a lot of measuring, 3D analysis of different shots and we started to see patterns and actions among players which no-one was talking about,” added Ridyard.
“A lot of these related to how the wrist, lead arm and body interact to get different trajectories and spin around the green. Once we identified the patterns, it became a case of how to get the message over to pupils and to other coaches so they could use it in their coaching.
“The reason why we were looking at the short game is no one was really talking about it in this way. I think because everyone is so obsessed with gaining full swing knowledge they don’t tend to apply themselves when it comes to the short game.
“Most short game lessons are generic and more time is allocated to the full swing rather than the shorter swing. The information has always been there.”
The findings have a practical element and Ridyard applies them in his day to day coaching with positive results.
“We don’t teach everyone the same, we classify players into different groups according to certain styles of component, and customise what they do. If you get a pupil to understand what they are doing with the short game they can improve much more quickly without having to experiment.”
Ridyard’s thirst for knowledge was sparked by his experiences in the States as a player in the mid ‘noughties where he felt he didn’t realise his potential.
“I came back to England and wanted to work out why I wasn’t as successful as I wanted to be when it came to playing,” he explained. “I did a lot of research and spent a lot of time with top teachers. In terms of my own game, the information I’d received wasn’t great and my application was poor in practice.”
Armed with his findings, Ridyard aims to ensure delegates in Orlando will get the latest and the very best information from his 60 minutes on stage at the prestigious coaching summit.
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