Sanctuary Cove PGA Professional Michael Jones doesn’t seek out the spotlight.
His father Keith, a country rugby league legend in the north-west of New South Wales, once told him that he would be better served letting others tell him how well he was performing.
That his two star pupils finished atop the respective PGA Tour of Australasia and Pro-Am Series Order of Merit lists exhibiting very similar attributes is perhaps no surprise.
Approaching his 47th birthday, Brad Kennedy was a convincing winner of the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit, a second New Zealand Open triumph and victory at the inaugural event of The Players Series the foundation of a season that also featured two third-place finishes and a top-10 at the Golf Challenge NSW Open.
For 44-year-old ACT native Matt Millar, a second Blitz Golf title and four pro-am wins in the Riverina region of NSW inside a week caried him to the Pro-Am Series Order of Merit.
In an age of excess length and power, Kennedy and Millar are testimony that golf is a game of how many, not how.
In the past 12 months Kennedy has made his PGA TOUR debut and teed it up at the WGC-Workday Championship while Millar used the exemptions earned by winning the 2018 PGA Tour of Australasia Player of the Year award to play two WGC events in 2019.
Both have been working with Jones for more than a decade and their coach’s greatest reward is seeing their success rather than receiving any accolades of his own.
“I’ve never really gone out to be the big tour-pro coach but I’d like to think that the guys I have coached have improved and got to places where maybe they didn’t think they might get to,” said Jones.
Jones himself played rugby league growing up in Newcastle and incorporates a team mentality within his approach to golf coaching.
He invites other experts in particular fields to impart their knowledge on his players, introducing renowned English performance coach Dave Alred to Kennedy some seven years ago, an introduction that has helped Kennedy record eight professional victories in the past decade and reach No.100 in the world.
It’s an unselfish approach that Jones believes is essential in the modern game.
“There’s a lot of stuff that I have got out of footy that I put into my golf coaching,” Jones explained.
“It’s that team mentality because pro golf these days is not an individual sport. It’s a team sport and you’ve got to have every person on board and singing from the same hymn sheet.
“I’m not the complete book of encyclopaedias. I’ve got a sports science degree but when it comes to mental performance or equipment I have to go out and source qualified advice that everybody agrees on.
“I’d like to think that the contributions made by all those people has made a big difference to Matty’s and Brad’s careers.”
And while the juniors he coaches at Sanctuary Cove are attracted to the power game exhibited by the likes of Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Rory McIlroy, Jones believes they would be better served taking note of how the likes of Kennedy and Millar construct a round of golf.
“I teach people how to play golf, not how to swing a golf club,” Jones added.
“Matty winning the PGA Tour of Australasia Player of the Year a couple of years ago showed that there is more than one way to skin a cat.
“Adaptation is a word that I use a lot because neither one of them swing it in what you would classify as conventional.
“But Brad’s short game, putting and ball-striking is as good as anyone out there. To his credit, the way that he has applied himself and believed in his own game has brought about those great results, and Matty is another great example.
“Matty has learnt how to shape shots and to back himself to hit the shot that’s in front of him to hit it.
“They’re the kinds of things that both Matt and Brad have accelerated and now their self-belief is one of the greatest weapons in their game.
“A lot of kids and their parents stand at the driving range focused only on how far they can hit it. It would be great for them to see how Brad or Matt puts a round together. There’s a lot more that goes into it than just how far they can hit it.
“Sometimes I think juniors should look more closely at guys like Matty and Brad and appreciate what they can do because often they have better scores than the bombers.”