The only reason Laird Shepherd was able to mount his historic comeback from 8 down after 17 holes to win on the 38th hole in the final of the 126th Amateur Championship at Nairn was because he had learned not to beat himself.
When, a few years before, his progress was being rudely interrupted by a run of back injuries, he would get mad at himself on the course.
“Eventually,” he said, “I accepted that life’s hard and that I was making it harder with my bad attitude. I had to get a grip of myself.”
Hence the reason he spent last Monday evening taking a close look at his body language on the R&A’s video of the final. He was watching with his girlfriend, Chloé Goadby, the new Scottish Women’s Amateur champion, and, after the first 18 holes, he had turned to her to note that his demeanour was better than he had thought.
“I was disappointed all right but not too much was showing,” he said. “Where I definitely got things right was in the afternoon. It was partly because I didn’t have the energy to be any different, but I stayed on an even keel and I stayed focused.”
As others saw it, he had a look of steely determination on his face from start to finish, at which point he collapsed in his girlfriend’s arms.
“Why do so many county, national and university programmes feel the need to separate the sexes? It doesn’t make sense to me.”
Everyone is aware of that old saying about how a player will benefit more from watching good women golfers as opposed to the Bryson DeChambeaus of this world. Generally, it is ignored by those who would benefit from it the most, but Shepherd, for one, is convinced that the mixed programme at Stirling University made all the difference to him.
“Why do so many county, national and university programmes feel the need to separate the sexes?” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to me.
“I’ve learned so much from the girls’ swings in general and from caddying for Chloé in particular. … For a start, she’s taught me the importance of being properly organised and of listening to what our coach (Dean Robertson) always had to say about clear decision-making.”
He added that there had been numerous occasions when he marvelled at Goadby’s competitiveness in a fight-back situation, even when he has been the player on the losing end. And that, he says, happens as often as not.
Shepherd, 23, is going to make the most of all the opportunities which are coming his way as a result of his Amateur triumph and is currently organising Open practice rounds for himself at Royal St George’s, a venue close to his family home. Which way he heads thereafter depends on how he fares during this period.
Certainly, he is not taking it for granted that he will slip seamlessly into the professional ranks. Though he is currently playing full-time golf after dropping a part-time winter job at Tesco, he is keeping an eye open for career opportunities which could follow on from his Sports Studies’ degree.
“I rather fancy doing a course in sports’ psychology or physical training,” he said.
Add that to everything else and he will be ready to tee off in any number of different directions.