How Zac Radford’s journey to the PGA Tour began
Unlike a generation of golfers following in Tiger Woods footsteps taking up golf as soon as they can walk, pro golfer Zac Radford has taken a different path. He didn’t take up golf until later in High School after being introduced to the game by his father and grandfather. Growing up playing baseball he learnt the hand eye co-ordination skills that would later benefit a blossoming golfing career.
Zac shares with us his story and what he has learnt along the way that will help other aspiring touring professionals and weekend golfers.
You’ll learn some life lessons on and off the golf course plus some tips on how you can improve your golf game faster.
Start of the golf love affair
About midway through High School Zac’s love for golf grew and he began transitioning from baseball to golf. Whilst attending college in Knoxville, Tennessee he started to see some improvement in his game and then realised there might be something there worth pursuing.
After graduating college he started practicing more, trying to get to his game to the next level as far as playing professionally.
He took a year off after graduating college at which time he had a handicap of 12.
Quite incredibly, within the next 12 months, Zac reduced his handicap to plus 6.
12 months of amazing progress
The transformation in Zac’s golf game during that 12 months is amazing and highlights the dedication and work he put into his game. He went from shooting in the 80’s to the 60’s in what must have been an exciting period in his golfing life.
He spent many hours practicing golf and every facet of the game.
This dedication and commitment resulted in lower golf scores and a self belief he could reach the highest level.
When I asked Zac about his amazing improvement in that 12 months he said:
“Yes, definitely a lot of sunrises and sunsets. And honestly I just got out there and just learned how to get the golf ball in the hole. I wasn't really taking any instruction at the time but I was out there just trying to find out for me what worked and what didn't. I'm not necessarily recommending to not have instruction, but during that time that was just the way it went for me”.
The key point here is, Zac found out what worked for him and then just practiced and practiced until it become habit.
The costs of getting to the PGA Tour
Obviously you need a lot of golfing skill and ability to play on the PGA Tour, but what’s not talked about much is the costs involved in getting there. Zac Radford knows more than anyone the financial burden it takes to fund a potential golfing career. In fact, unless you’re playing on the Web.com or the PGA Tour there’s little chance a major sponsor will back you.
Zac says you really need at least $65,000 a year behind you to fund your golfing dream.
This cover costs like travel, accommodation and to help getting you into a lot of mini tour events, Monday qualifiers and tour school.
The money takes the financial pressure off you and allows you to go out and play golf to the best of your ability.
The biggest swing fault zac sees in golfers
Zac Radford has played with thousands of golfers over the years during his progression from club handicap golfer to aspiring touring professional. He’s played with elite golfers and golfers who’s game required a lot of work. When you play as much golf as him, you see many golf swings and can quickly identify great swing traits that the good players have and the bad players do not.
Zac says the transition from the top of the backswing leading into the downswing is the single biggest fault he says amateur golfers making.
A lot of golfers get quick and jerky and are seemingly in a rush to commence the downswing and hit the golf ball.
They get off balance and and their tempo gets out of rhythm and the whole swing is ruined.
“If you look at pretty much everybody on tour, the transition at the top is just so smooth. When you see a guy swinging very well, the transition just looks seamless. So that's where I see a lot of amateurs struggle. They get to the top of their swing and then it's like, oh I got to hurry up and swing and hit this ball”.
Why golfers aren’t improving in the 21st century?
Zac has no doubt why golfers aren’t improving as much today, despite all the available information on the golf swing at our finger tips. Most countries have the facilities, golf courses, swing coaches and technology to help improve golfers swings. He sees it every day on the golf course with golfers struggling to make improvement in their game. He believes it’s because of an overload of information when it comes to golf instruction.
There’s so much information and it's hard for people to really focus on one or two things at a time, because they hear one great idea after another.
And that's not to say that all these ideas and instruction are bad, it's just different and people aren't sure how to cipher through what actually will be beneficial to their game.
“Golfers are hearing the same thing 14 different ways and it actually ends up sounding like totally different things. They end up kind of handcuffing one so it's not improving because they're unsure of what they need to be doing because everyone has a differing idea. Yet even though they're talking about the same thing, they need to focus on finding one person that they can understand how they're communicating what they want to learn”.
3 things to do before you start playing golf
In Zac’s profession he not only plays with a lot of golfers but gets to meet and talk to a lot of people that want to take up the game for the first time. They are curious and want to know what they should do first, buy clubs, get a membership or maybe even start getting lessons. It’s an important question to get answered, because getting the right advice early on can help you play better golf for years to come.
Zac’s answer is pretty simple. He likes the beginner to get out to their local golf driving range and tee up a driver and just learn to hit the ball.
Learn how to make contact with the ball and forget about technique and all that technical stuff.
The second time you go to the range, he recommends getting some instruction to ensure you have the correct grip, as it’s one of the most overlooked parts of golf.
Finally, Zac likes to put an emphasis on having fun when learning at the start to ensure you don’t get discouraged when the eventual bad shot happens.
“Go to a miniature golf course and just learn the concept of putting. Even though it's fun and not too serious. You've got a putter. You're just learning how to hit a putt, even if you're having to hit it through a clown’s nose. Just learning how to get the golf ball into the hole and really keep it fun at the beginning, because I see so many people getting discouraged at the beginning and we don't want see that”.
What part of the game does a pro like you work on?
What Zac Radford has to say on this topic it quite interesting. All top golfers get to a point where there’s very little to work on from a technical standpoint . However, for Zac he works regularly on tempo and balance. With his golf swing already grooved after thousands of practice sessions and golf rounds, it’s the tempo and balance that glues it all together. Finally, and this may surprise you is that Zac and many other top professionals works daily on his aim and alignment in his golf set up.
The professionals on tour practice their aim and alignment every day, such is the importance of it.
At the end of the day, if you’re not aligned correctly at your target, you’re not going to the hit the proper shot in the direction you were intending.
You end up hitting poor golf shots and it causes a multitude of other problems as you try to compensate with the different ball flights.
“The problem as the ball starts curving and you start aiming more and more at that direction and the ball starts curving more and more. It's just not a path you want to head down! It’s just always better to have that consistent alignment. Then the game's going to be much more enjoyable and you're going to hit much more quality shots”.
WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW WHERE ZAC RADFORD DEMONSTRATES HOW TO PLAY HIS FAMOUS STINGER SHOT:
Starting out today, what would you do differently?
Starting out again Zac would definitely have focused more on getting the financing part of his golf career sorted first. Even if it means taking a year off from competition and just focus on practicing and getting the backing behind you. Zac had to piece it all together through the years and get funding here and there, which made it difficult to stay playing competitively.
Having the funding behind you eliminates some of the pressure knowing you’re going to be playing next week regardless of your finishing position.
Zac has seen many golfers make that progression to the next level because they’ve had that backing and been able to focus solely on becoming a better player.
“You're not worried about you know having to finish top 10 so you have the money to play next week. I've seen more consistent players getting to the next level who had those full year or two behind them.The backing helped them step up into the next level”.
Who’s had the most influence on your success so far?
Like many successful professional athletes, Zac is quick to acknowledge that he’s had help along the way. Many people from coaches to sponsors who all played their part in helping him progress towards his dream of playing on the PGA Tour. However, when it comes down to it there is two people that have clearly had a huge influence on where he is today.
Zac’s parents have played a massive role and been a huge part of his achievements on and off the golf course.
Their encouragement and support have given him the opportunities to get where he is today.
He is incredibly grateful for their help and guidance and knows he wouldn’t be where he is today without them.
“There really are countless people that I could think of but I would have to say, and I'm not just saying this, but my parents support on the way and really believing in what I was doing and encouraging me all along the way. I wouldn't have had the same opportunities that I have had. I am very thankful for that”.
Keep following the Zac Radford journey
The journey of Zac Radford and his pursuit of a career on the PGA Tour continues to gain momentum.
Along the way Zac has created a large cult following on Social Media thanks to his unique style of producing amazing golf shots.
His Instagram account showcases many incredible golf shots and photography not seen on other golf accounts.
Learn more about Zac by following him on Instagram here @therealzacradford and enjoy sharing his golfing life.
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