YORKSHIRE’S Georgina Simpson and Rebecca Hudson headed to the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters with the same thing on their mind – more distance off the tee.
They are looking to achieve it in different ways, however, Simpson by resorting to improved technique and Hudson to improved technology.
Cleckheaton’s Simpson and Hudson, from Doncaster, have almost three decades of tour experience between them, but a younger vanguard of players is pushing them to strive to go to greater lengths.
“I’ve been changing my swing over the last 18 months [with tuition from Woodsome Hall’s John Eyre] and I’m getting somewhere that way, but it just needs to come out scoring wise,” said Simpson, who added that the motivation for drastic rebuilding is today’s generation of athletic, big-hitting, tour-ready young players.
“I’ve been out here 14 years, this is my 15th year on tour, and if you don’t move with the times you get left behind.
“All the young girls hit it so far now and they’ve all had physios for a lot of years. I’ve played in two generations really – pre-Tiger Woods and post-Tiger Woods.
“If you don’t adapt you’re not going to be playing golf much longer so I decided to sharpen it up and I’ve changed a lot. I’m learning about balance, for instance, which kids are taught a lot earlier. I was on tour eight years before that all came out with Tiger.”
Hudson is a member of Gainsborough where world-renowned golf club manufacturer Ping has its state of the art fitting centre. She has switched drivers, to a low-spin Ping G30, and used it for the first time in the recent Deloitte Ladies Open, in Amsterdam, where she finished a season’s best seventh.
“I’m not the longest of drivers, but I’m straight so it gave me a little bit more length without sacrificing accuracy,” explained the 36-year-old.
“It has lower spin off the club face so it has roughly the same carry distance - maybe five yards extra - and 15 yards or so extra run.
“I don’t swing any differently, the drive just goes further and it’s a big help and means I’m hitting at least one club less in for my approach shot.”
Simpson, too, is looking to leave herself with a shorter club in her hands as she attempts to find the green because she sees the younger players giving themselves more birdie opportunities by hunting the flag from closer in.
“They have got the whole package. Their putting definitely is sharper, but it is the added length which I’ve noticed, and they are less individual swings. Twenty years ago even on the men’s tour there would be 20 or so players who had a quirky swing.
“Now with all the young players coming through, you don’t see any quirky swings. I think that teaching’s got better and with Tiger’s influence the players are more athletic and everyone uses the body more.
“These girls are coming out and they’re ready to compete, and win two or three events first year out. It keeps you on your toes.”
Travelling abroad can raise concerns about safety, and Hudson praised the tour for its organisation which ensures every possible precaution is taken.
“The tour do a fantastic job in making us feel secure wherever we go, whether it be China or Amsterdam,” she said. “Particularly with the younger girls, who have not travelled as much, there can be worries about personal safety, visas and so on, but we are transported to and from the hotels and are taken good care of.”
Hudson, like Simpson, has been working hard with her coach – Gainsborough’s Steve Cooper – and hopes to build on her Amsterdam achievement in Berkshire.
Home stars Melissa Reid, Charley Hull and Dame Laura Davies are among the competitors at the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club, from July 2-5.
They headline a field of 144 world-class competitors which also includes Solheim Cup stars Caroline Masson and Giulia Sergas, current order of merit leader Gwladys Nocera and 19-time tournament winner Trish Johnson.
The Ladies European Tour’s flagship tournament is played at the tour’s headquarters and Europe’s top women golfers are competing for a purse of €500,000, with a €75,000 first prize.