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In 2005 Michael Campbell won the US Open; now he lives in Marbella and runs his own golf academy at Hotel Villa Padierna
09.05.14 - 12:06 -
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"Andalucía is a breeding ground for future champion golfers"
Michael Campbell pictured outside Hotel Villa Padierna where his academy is located. :: SUR
In 2005 New Zealander Michael Campbell became part of a select group of golfers to have won a Masters golf tournament after narrowly finishing ahead of Tiger Woods to be named US Open champion. Since then, media pressure and high expectations have prevented Campbell from reaching the same heights.
Since March, the European Tour member has another occupation: he now directs a golf academy at Marbella’s Hotel Villa Padierna resort which consists of three of the most prestigious courses in southern Spain.
Campbell is joined by professionals Daniel Williams and Steven Palmer, both PGA certified and with more than 30 years of experience in the golf industry between them.
The academy’s opening coincided with the SURin English 30th Anniversary Golf Tour, of which Campbell launched last month.
–How are you adapting to the Spanish culture?
–It’s has been 20 months. I enjoy the culture, the food, the people and that big burning bright light up there - the sun (laughs). I was living in Sydney before but I had to move back to play the European Tour.
-What does your elite training school programme consist of?
-It covers everybody; it doesn’t just train young aspiring kids, but everyone. I want to service local people as well as hotel guests, and obviously the elite young kids in the surrounding area.
-How do you find the level of golf in Andalucía?
-I think it’s a breeding ground for more champion golfers to come from because it has got the weather, the golf courses and the facilities. My dream is that my facility will provide a wonderful service to all golfers here.
-Miguel Ángel Jiménez came fourth in Augusta last month; how is your relationship with him? Does watching the championships make you want to return to the circuit?
-Unfortunately, I have been out because of my injury. But it is much better now. He does definitely inspire me; he is a good friend of mine we get on very well. I think it is just a true testament of how talented he is that he managed to come fourth. Spain has a wonderful group of great players, past and present, and now hopefully Miguel’s performance will inspire even more Spaniards to make it to Augusta.
-You started playing golf at the age of seven. What is the secret to becoming professional?
-The most important thing is the right information because there is lots of it out there and some of it is not so good. I believe that I have the right information that will hopefully help any aspiring golfer in the Costa del Sol.
-Did you ever dream when you were a child that you would be holding a professional golf trophy?
-Of course, ever since I was 12 or 13 I dreamed of winning my first Major. It took a long time, but I was very patient.
-How did winning the US Open change your career?
-It changes your world in many ways. It changes how people perceive you. You are exposed to the world but it can also be a very powerful tool. It means I could raise money for charity for example. When I was very young I remember my grandmother being a very wise woman. She taught me an important philosophy. She told me you are born with two hands, one to receive - and I have received lots of beautiful things in my life - but you must give back with the other hand. That is why I have done lots of charity work and that is why my golf academy is here and I have time to give back to everyone around me. I am currently looking to work with a project that helps homeless people in Estepona.
-Now you want to help others, but who helped you out initially?
-Lots of people. I believe that to achieve in anything, whether it be in business or sport you need a support group around you. First of all my parents. Then I had coaches, psychologists, fitness instructors and a very supportive wife.
-Was is difficult to return to competitions after your US Open success?
-Yes, many a time. I think that it changes your whole way of thinking. The biggest thing that I noticed was the pressure to perform again and again. That is why I really admire Tiger Woods; he always performs under the highest pressure.
-Woods has not won a Major since 2008; do you think that this could be down to pressure?
-I think that it is because of his nocturnal activities (laughs).
-What does a golfer need to keep focused?
-Patience and a desire to win. In this sport you do not win every time you play; it’s as simple as that. You have to learn from your mistakes. If you take Tiger away from the equation the top professional golfers play between 15 and 20 tournaments a year and you would only win around one of those, so it is not a very high strike rate.
-Do you ever read SUR in English? What is your opinion of the paper?
-I read it all the time. It is a great tool for providing information and it helps with tourism, it is a great communicator for the south of Spain. I am also familiar with the Russian and German newspapers; SUR realises that there is a multicultural base of people living on the Costa del Sol.
-With the SUR in English 30th Anniversary Tournament there are over 300 players inscribed and the final is being played at Villa Padierna; what’s your opinion of the competition?
-I think it is great for the region to have this tournament as it brings together a range of golfers from around the area. I believe the most important thing is to have golf accessible to everyone and to allow golfers to compete with each other.
-What are the main differences between Andalucía as a golf destination and other European golfing areas?
-The most important thing is the weather. You know when you come down to this part of the world you are guaranteed to play golf. If you go to different parts of France, Germany or Switzerland there is a good chance it will rain.
-What to you think of Andalucía as a whole?
-It has so much to offer. There is skiing just an hour and a half from here, there are great beaches, fantastic golf courses and good shopping facilities so there are activities for everyone.
How do people sign up to your academy?
-We have not had the official opening inauguration, but it is already open to the public. Anyone keen just has to put themselves in contact with the hotel and it’s as simple as that. I think the courses will be hard but will no doubt be rewarding and bring their benefits.