The world of youtube golf is big and getting bigger all the time. There are some fantastic instruction videos, tips, news and reviews. However, when I tune in to the internet, my favourite viewing is without doubt a course vlog and James Pickard one of the people I enjoy watching the most.
There is a lot of good content to choose from, but anything on the Buzzagolf channel is always great and James is a channel regular.
From his opinions on this year’s Majors to Rory’s putting woes as well as everything from his thoughts on the rule book and losing to Mark Crossfield (!) , James was great value in this interview. He is one of the friendliest guys you could hope to chat with and was happy to tell me about his future projects online.
If you are interested in getting a lesson from James (and if you are in the South-West of the Uk, you certainly should), you can find all his contact details at the end of this interview.
- Fairway First Golf:How long have you been playing golf and where did you start?
James Pickard: I started playing when I was 12, so I have played for 22 years. I first started in a place called Sidmouth. Currently, I am the teaching pro in Honiton.
- What is your favourite course?
My favourite course around here would have to be St Mellion. The best course I have played is Bali National Golf Club-a beautiful course
- What is your favourite club in the bag?
My favourite club is my 60° wedge. It is a Vokey k grind.
- What do you think of advances in golf club technology?
Over the last few years there hasn’t been much advancement and I don’t see it happening. There are certain things with drivers. For example, a couple of years ago, I had an SLDR and now I have an M1 and they make a considerable difference to me due to the fact that they are so low-spinning and you can get the lofts down. I can actually get the loft down to 6.5° on mine.
It is all to do with the way that I deliver the club to the ball. My dynamic loft is quite poor with driver so with my M1 in 9,5° and the weight in the back, I would hit it about 260 yards carry. Being able to adjust it, get it down to 6.5° and do what I want with the weights gets me 30-40 yards on top of that.
- Rangefinder or gps?
Rangefinder every time. I have an nikon coolshot. I think it is easy to use and pick up targets. I think anyone can use them. As long as you have got a consistent swing, a laser is perfect. If you are not that fussed about distances and like to play it by eye, a gps is fine, but anyone can use a laser really.
- What is your best round ever?
Competitively, I hit a 7 under at Woodbury a few years ago, my lowest as a pro. At my home club off the yellow tees I have shot a 59, but it is a par 66 so I don’t really count that!
- What would be your dream foursome?
My granddad because I never got a chance to play with him. He was a scratch golfer. Probably Henrik Stenson because he is my favourite golfer. He is brilliant for the game. And probably Tom Watson just for experience and everything else.
- What is your opinion on the majors this year?
It is nice to see first time winners. Even though I am not a particular fan, I think Jimmy Walker did well in the USPGA with his wire-to-wire win. That was brilliant. I think the open was arguably the best major ever. The last round was absolutely ridiculous-those two played a different course to everyone else. It was the highest caliber golf I have ever watched.
It was nice to see Danny Willett win the Masters, even though Spieth crumbled. What Willett did the last couple of holes was amazing.
The majors this year have, I think, been very, very good.
- And are you surprised by Rory McIlroy?
No, not really. I think he is very streaky. He’s either absolutely exceptional or not making a cut. There isn’t much in between. He needs to sort his putting out and do something about it. It’s always been very pushy. Last year he switched his hands around and he has obviously gone back away from that now. It just lets him down. You shouldn’t be three putting from 6 or 7 feet. That’s the only weakness in his game, with possibly his temper. He gets a little bit upset at himself. He needs to work with Dave Stockton. All he needs to do is putt. If he putted like Jason Day, he would be unbeatable.
- Best piece of advice for mid-handicapper
Enjoy it. Don’t get frustrated by it. As soon as someone gets frustrated by it, it puts them off the game. The more you enjoy it, the better you will play.
- Any opinion on Single length irons?
I see it as a bit of a fad. It is one of those things that doesn’t make a huge amount of difference. But if you are confident, you play well and if you are confident with this length of irons, great. I am really not sure how they work. I can’t imagine pitching wedge and sand wedge feel great being an 8 iron length.
I always say to people I am giving lessons to, golf is 90% confidence, 10% ability. If you truly believe you can hit a good shot, more often than not, you will hit a good shot.
I would love to have a go with them though.
- Any rule changes you would like to see?
I don’t think I would change a rule, I would change the rules. I think the actual rule book is ridiculous. All those stupid little rules like “if your ball moves…” where to drop, how to drop and everything, it is just too complicated and it is what puts people off playing.
Golf is great because it is one of the only games where most people are honest, they don’t cheat and it is an individual game but the rules are very restrictive and also, they way they are written, they are very easily manipulated by the way they are read.
- Would you rather lose to Steve Buzza or Mark Crossfield?
Buzza. It doesn’t take long to answer that one! Buzza every time 🙂
- what is your opinion on the youtube golf phenomenon?
It is interesting. I think it helps people relate to the game a little bit more. Obviously, the only other thing that people can see on tv is the tour pros playing and people probably watch them thinking “I am never going to be that good, so what’s the point in trying?”
We muck up all the time, there are terrible shots, there are good shots. I think it is good for the game in terms of us being just average people.
I think it is very good for the game and it is funny how it came about. Mark came up to play and needed an extra so I just kind of stepped in and I really enjoy doing it. Obviously, I don’t have my own channel. Steve is moving to Thailand but we are still going to do stuff under Buzzagolf because I think it works well like that. I will do some vlogs over here and we are hoping to speak to the travel companies in the next couple of weeks and I can go off to Thailand, we can go to Dubai and film and keep going like that. I think it will work really well. We are going to do some weekly challenges on the launch monitor too.
- Where can people get in touch?
If you have the opportunity to visit James at Honiton golf club, you should really book a lesson with him if at all possible and can find his details through the Honiton Golf Club site below:
Honiton Golf club: http://www.honitongolfclub.co.uk/