Pro Tips from Finca Cortesin’s Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy
May 5, 2020 by Hidden Doorways
Sunset view from Hole 18.
Golfing at Finca Cortesin’s championship golf course designed by Cabell Robinson is a spiritual experience for golf enthusiasts. Finca Cortesin evokes a feeling of living in the moment in Spain’s beloved Costa del Sol. When you tee-off on its course, you can feel those moments of serenity from the soothing Mediterranean breeze and catching a glimpse of the sea and the Casares mountains flanked in the back drop.
Golfers from across the globe seek out Finca Cortesin’s prestigious Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy. While we are staying at home, learn new techniques for scoring the game like a pro with these drill tips from Finca Cortesin’s Director of Instruction, Ricardo Jimenez Eliaeson.
While Finca Cortesin’s golf course and club remain closed for the time being, it is a pleasure to introduce you to Ricardo Jimenez Eliaeson who unearthed a few secrets about his life in golf and coaching with us.
Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us. Firstly, can you give us an insight into your family background, who inspired you to follow a career in golf and how you got into coaching?
I was born in Stockholm in Sweden but moved to Spain when I was three years old and have been here ever since.
I started to play golf in 1986 at Torrequebrada Golf Club and, believe it or not, my first teacher was Miguel Angel Jiménez. I owe so much to the Jiménez family and without their support in my youth, I would never have played golf. I did all kind of sports growing up but, when I tried golf, I was hooked immediately. From the very beginning, I understood that I could never master this fantastic game and that I was not playing against other players but that I was playing against the golf course. I think that was one of the best lessons that I have received from Miguel Angel Jimenez.
When did you know you first had a thing for golf?
This is one of those questions that is very difficult to answer but, in my case, I always knew that I could be a very competitive player because I love competition. I consider myself a very good competitor but, having said that, it’s one thing to play against amateurs and quite another to play against professionals. I remember one tournament when I hit two drives in a row to rough on the left-hand side. In both situations, my ball was deep in trouble and I had to use my sand wedge to leave myself exactly 100 metres to the flag. In both distance wedges approaches, I left my ball next to the pin. This is when I knew that I could become a much better player.
View from Hole 12.
Being director of instruction at a Jack Nicklaus Academy, how does this association help in your coaching and your student’s development?
I have always been fortunate enough to be surrounded by great teachers. Many of them were more technical teachers while some were more ‘feeling’ teachers and others were more mental teachers. I have also been fortunate to have seen all the best teachers over the last 20 years and, together, they gave me a pretty good understanding of the whole picture.
Golf is not about instruction; it is about teaching people. If you teach people, you can help them to improve their games but if you keep teaching instruction, it will be very difficult to get good players and the best of their games. We are all different; we are built differently, we think differently, we understand differently, we learn differently so, therefore, we have to adapt to our students. Nicklaus Academies help me to deliver a more comprehensive and easier message to players. In general, coaches make golf too complicated and use terminology that doesn’t help, so I consider myself more like a skilled developer coach. If a student can improve their skills around their game, then I think they will be happier because they will feel that they can perform much better. That is my passion, to make them better.
What’s the greatest joy you get from teaching golf?
You probably will not believe it but the greatest joy I get from teaching is when you can get players striking the ball like the Tour players (with this, I mean the proper sound of the club hitting the ball and then the turf) and then turning around to me, with a big smile on their face, and telling me “What a shot”.
What’s the one thing you’d like to teach your kids about golf that will help them through life?
I believe golf is like life, a long path with a lot of obstacles in the journey. You are going to fall down plenty of times and you have to learn to stand up and keep walking. Do it step by step, grind, be resilient and enjoy the journey because that is when you are going to learn about you and your game/life.
View from Hole 13.
You have been a vital member of the Finca Cortesin team for 14 years. Tell us something the average golfer doesn’t know about Finca Cortesin’s golf course?
Finca Cortesin is an amazing golf course and I’m still trying to learn how to score here. I love courses which require you to play all the clubs in your bag and Finca Cortesin is one of them. You have to be long but accurate from the tee and you have to learn to attack the holes, with that I mean that sometimes you have to play away from flags if you do not want to mess a hole. When you get to the green, you have to put yourself in the right spot if you don’t want to three-putt, and if you miss the green, your short game has to be precise and creative. If you learn to play the course the way the designer wanted us to play then scoring is possible, but if you want to really enjoy your round, forget about being aggressive and think about how I can put the ball in play and play to the widest part of the green. In order to do so, you need to know the strengths of each hole and what your weaknesses are. Never try to play one of your weak shots against the strengths of the hole.
What is the best tip that you ever received from a Tour pro?
The best tip I ever had was from my lovely Scottish teacher Don Ross. I was a very technical player and I was in the middle of a big slump. It was so bad that I was thinking about quitting competitive golf. He was my teacher in the last part of my amateur career and I never hit the ball and scored as well as this part of my life. He returned to Spain after six years working abroad and he gave me a call and told me to come and see him in Montecastillo. When he saw my swing and the way I was hitting the ball and performing on the course, he could not believe it. I had lost my inner essence; resilience in the search of the perfect swing. He looked deep into my eyes and told me to stop thinking and to just start hitting the bloody ball. I spent the next month with that sole thought on the golf course and it really worked. I was the perfect example of a player that had got lost trying to reach perfection.
Carretera de Casares Km 2, E 29690 Casares
Casares, Malága, Spain
Telephone: +34 952-93-78-00