Melbourne-based Tasmanian Kalem Richardson is one of those legions of golfers whose potential can turn to gold-dust – or just to dust.
Richardson, 24, is determined to make the most of his fledgling pro career and with that in mind has moved to Melbourne to work within the best environment before attacking the Asian and Australasian tours later this year.
He will be working next season with Martin Joyce at the Victorian Institute of Sport and the pair have already identified one area which should be treated with caution – the convoluted subject of technique.
"I work with him on my technique, but we are trying to get away from that right now because its pretty easy to get caught up in it all and as soon as you hit a bad shot its ‘hello, whats going on with my golf swing’ and thats not what you want to do," Richardson said.
"If you can hit it both ways, and straight, you are probably going to be all right.
"I am basically working right now on shot shaping and getting out there and trying to score and play more holes rather than hit more balls on the range."
As he finesses his game, Richardson aims to repeat his Q-School results on the OneAsia stage before this season is finished.
He has made two cuts in his three outings this year, but has let himself down with poor final rounds on each occasion.
With back-to-back tournaments in China and Korea next month – as well as two events in successive weeks in Australia in December – Richardson hopes to get a bit more consistency into his competition play.
"I am looking forward to the coming months because we have got a few tournaments in a row," he said ahead of the $US1 million Nanshan China Masters at the Nanshan International Golf Club from October 11 – 14.
"Your game can get a bit rusty between competitions, because you are playing pro-ams to try and warm up for a big event, but pro-ams are really nothing like a big tournament."
With his high school in Launceston, next door to one of Tasmania’s best courses – Rivsersdale – he grew up playing the flat but pretty layout.
He was encouraged to take up the game by his friends and a sporting grandfather who played AFL and golf off a two handicap, but Richardson admits he wasn’t the flashiest athlete of his peer group.
"I played a bit of Aussie rules and basketball, but I wasn’t a standout at sport at school. I wasn’t great at golf at the start either — I really had to work hard at it."
That perseverance paid off and Richardson won the Tasmania Amateur Championship twice before heading to the US to test his skills on a bigger stage.
At this point many talented young golfers manage to snag a college scholarship – studying business as a fall-back in case a golf career never takes off – but Richardson went on the amateur circuit.
"I played two years of amateur golf in the States and I had a few top fives there, but I wasn’t at college or anything … I was just playing golf," he said.
He then returned to Australia — this time to Melbourne and the grind of pennant golf.
"Its a pretty strong competition there ," he said. "I just wanted to move there and hone my skills, and gradually I got better and started playing the national events and had a couple of good finishes."
Richardson finished a respectable 11th at OneAsia Q-School in January to give himself opportunities to compete on the $1million a tournament circuit. Between events he sharpens his game playing pro-am tournaments which are a staple for many Australian professionals.
"I don’t really have the money behind me at the moment, so I’m just trying to secure my card on the Australasian Tour and OneAsia," he said.
"The higher you finish on the Order of Merits obviously helps you out."
He made an immediate impact in his first tournament after he jointly led the GS Caltex Maekyung Open in Korea following an opening-round four-under-par 68. He made the cut despite a second-round 77 and then put himself in contention for a good pay cheque with 70 in the third round, but fell away with a 78 on the Sunday.
It was a similar story in the High1 Resort Open earlier this month, when an 80 in the final round saw him drop down the leader board.
Still, he knows what he is capable of.
"I just made a couple of soft mistakes," he said.
By: Robert Grant