Talor Gooch is on a charge, and heralded as one of the key players in the next generation of the world’s best golfers.
The 30-year-old from Oklahoma tells RSNG that while his approach to diet and exercise is regimented, knowing when to walk away from the course is vital.
RSNG Do you feel playing good golf is a product of being in a good place mentally?
TALOR GOOCH, THE GOLFER MAKING THE GRADE “Yes, that’s true. I think what I learned during lockdown was that making smart decisions away from the golf course is probably just as important as good club selection or reading the lie of a green.
“I am a real advocate for playing well as the result of other things being right in your life. I think I am in a good place now as much because of the decisions I make away from the golf course, as I am because of the decisions I make on the golf course.”
RSNG When did you decide golf was the sport for you? TALOR GOOCH “When I was about 13 or 14. I was an avid baseball fan and it was a sport that the whole family participated in and enjoyed. At the same time I was really progressing with my golf, but what I quickly realized is that you couldn’t be proficient in both at the same time.
“The mechanics of the swing meant that if you played too much golf your baseball swing was too low, and if you played too much baseball you would find too many aches and shooting pains when you lifted the club up to tee off.
“I was a huge fan of both sports but ultimately I made the decision to carry on with golf as my chosen sport.”
My family were a bit uncertain when I said I wanted to be a golfer – I got quite a bit of pressure put on me to rethink my decision
RSNG How did that go down with your baseball-loving family?
TALOR GOOCH “Ha – well my family were a bit uncertain when I said I wanted to be a golfer and I got quite a bit of pressure put on me to rethink my decision. I think that’s natural because baseball has always been in the blood in our family and the people around me wanted me to make the right decision.
“Ultimately I stuck to what I thought was right.”
RSNG Was taking control of your own decision-making a valuable early lesson?
TALOR GOOCH “Sure – I decided it was golf and that was validated by the way I played almost straight away, in the weeks and months after that.
“I progressed through the junior ranks and have always believed I’ve been on an upward trajectory – right through to where I am today.”
RSNG What are your foundations for success?
TALOR GOOCH “Being fit, eating well, and exercising regularly – both at home and when I’m away on tour – is really important to me, but so is spending time with my family and knowing when to put the putter down and accept I need to come back the next day with a new frame of mind.
“There is a real logic of repetition in golf – you practise, practise, practise and keep repeating the same action until you get it right. And I can see how that line of thinking can permeate the sport because, sure, eventually, you will sink the putt.
“But I am a big advocate of walking away from the challenge, when the likelihood is you can come back a few minutes or a few hours later and complete the shot with more accuracy, and in fewer attempts.”
RSNG What rules do you put in place to ensure your lifestyle matches your performance ambitions?
TALOR GOOCH “I will eat the same things, at the same time, each day. I will work out at the same time, and I will work out adjusting only a few elements at a time.
“I will never have days when my workout schedule is wildly different day to day, because consistency is a really important factor.
“I have studied a lot to do with psychology and the way the body reacts to change on one hand and process on the other, and I realized that I would have to adapt my life to being regimented and focused if I ever wanted to be anywhere close to a professional.
“The problem with golf is that the nature of the sport doesn’t lend itself to the same processes of a normal work life, where you’d always have to be in the office at 9am, for instance. Golf is taken in a more leisurely way, yet for me trying to find my way in the sport, I realized that I would need to approach it in the same way as someone who had a full-time corporate job.”
In 2022, you can’t just turn up without preparation and expect to be able to turn out a big round of golf – it won’t happen
RSNG What changes did you make?
TALOR GOOCH “Essentially I started scheduling every minute of my life so it was purposed towards golf and becoming better at golf. So rather than wake up whenever and hit balls, I had a set practice program. Every moment of my waking life became purposeful, and that gave me the focus and incentive to invest in a trainer who, in turn, sorted out a lot of my strains and recurrent injuries that were holding me back, particularly a back injury that I had for a couple of years but never solved.
“Ultimately that came down to when I was a senior in college – I had a back injury and it was because I was doing workouts that were not golf specific and more focused on building muscle to show off.”
RSNG Did those adjustments pay off straight away?
TALOR GOOCH “Pretty much. You have to understand – golf is such a refined sport and any kind of difference in the body or the mind makes a huge difference on the course. The difference between the player ranked 250th or 50th isn't much. It's about finding a small edge in every way possible.”
RSNG What’s the focus of your training now?
TALOR GOOCH “Right now, a lot of my training is focused on making my play tighter and faster, but the wider priority is to continue to maintain health and create longevity. I aim to eat a balanced diet, building enough mass to help me absorb the brunt of the force when I’m hitting ball after ball.
“I saw some research recently that proved that the golf swing is the second most violent movement in sport, coming second to the impact that confronts a linebacker in NFL. I know that a healthy lifestyle and one that is planned and shaped to give myself the best tools is one that will take me to the best place in the sport.
“In 2022, you can’t just turn up without preparation and expect to be able to turn out a big round of golf. It won’t happen.”
WHAT NEXT? Want some more insider tips to improve your golf game? Then find out the best pre-shot and post-shot routines in this RSNG.com guide….