Major preparation: Denis McDade with Marc Leishman


In the second of our series highlighting the PGA Professionals guiding our Aussie boys at this week’s US PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park, Denis McDade reveals what he and Marc Leishman are working on early in the week and the ideal mindset he hopes to take into the opening round.

The start to Marc’s season was as good as he’s ever had but it just hasn’t quite clicked since coming out of lockdown.

Almost without exception when his game drops off a little bit it will be an old pattern or habit that he’s reverted back into that we need to correct. And normally he will recover pretty quickly.

For example, earlier this year we did some work on his set-up and basic pivot and he was off and running.

The amount of communication during the week of a Major will depend very much on where Marc’s game is at.

This will be a little bit more of a coaching week than normal given that we need to tidy a couple of things up but it won’t be a heavy coaching week because of where Marc and I know he needs to be Thursday morning teeing it up.

Because I’m in Stage 4 lockdown here in Melbourne my role early in the week will be identifying what the one or two minor issues might be because he does feel like he’s pretty close to where he needs to be.

We’ll do a live FaceTime session early in the week. Marc will tell me a time that he’s going to be on the range and his caddie, Matty Kelly, will hold the phone. Marc will have his ear pods in, there’ll be some discussion back and forth and we’ll send a little bit of video.

If it works best to do it at 2am here in Melbourne, then I’ll get up at 2am and do it then.

I need to find a way to make some subtle changes without altering the way he plays his best golf which is being external and reactive. That’s the challenge for me.

If there’s a change that needs to be made, how do we implement that without him becoming internal and thinking about his swing all the time?

If he’s on the first tee on Thursday thinking about his backswing or anything like that, that’s not how he’ll play his best golf.

The task initially is to find the little thing that’s dropped off, do a little bit of work on the range and then take it out to the course.

Marc plays his best golf when he reacts to his image of what he wants to do with the shot. The image of the shot almost creates the movement. If he starts delving into trying to create positions, that is quite internal and totally at odds with the way he plays his best golf.

Once the tournament starts I’m there as a resource to bounce ideas off and act as a cheer squad.

There will be a text message exchange each day but it’s not War And Peace. ‘How was your warm-up? How’d you play? How’s it feeling? Any concerns? Anything I can help you with?’

After each round I’ll look at ShotLink data but often the stats don’t give the complete picture of how he’s playing. The shot he’s trying to hit or the shot he’s struggling with. It certainly provides some baseline figures and then we take it from there.

Marc is at stage in his career where he’s quite autonomous and self-reliant and I’m there as a support.

I will do very little this week in terms of strategy given that I haven’t been on-site at TPC Harding Park but he has and he really likes the place.

Marc nuts out golf courses pretty darn well. If I’m at an event occasionally he’ll ask my thoughts but he and Matty Kelly do a great job around all of that.

The good thing going in is that this is a place that he likes so strategy and comfort with the venue won’t be the issue.

This is one that he’s had circled for a while.

Denis McDade is the Director of Coaching at Yarra Bend Golf and in 2017 was voted as the Australian Coach of the Year. In addition to five-time PGA TOUR winner Marc Leishman, McDade coaches tour professionals Matthew Griffin, Marcus Fraser and Ashley Hall.


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