Paul Eales, former PGA Assistant at Royal Lytham, now multiple tour winner, Broadcaster, Coach and European Tour Board Member, gives an exclusive interview to ONPAR Magazine about life on the Seniors Staysure Tour, travelling the world and his plans for 2020.
Even with his illustrious career of 17 years playing on the European Tour with 3 wins, 11 major Tournament appearances and now a firm member of the European Seniors Staysure Tour, it’s clear as we sit down with Paul Eales that his roots remain firmly with the North West.
Tell us about your year Paul, where in the world have you been?
Well, we started the year in the US where I played a couple of champions qualifiers and I always go to the PGA Show in Orlando in January, I’m like a kid in a toy shop. We’ve been to Jordan and stayed in Wadi Rum and saw the ruins of Petra. Here I played in the mixed week with the Seniors Tour, the Challenge Tour and the LET, the first one of those events.
We then returned back to the States heading first to Oakhill in Rochester and then went on to see the Niagra Falls, so it’s not just all golf! We’ve visited Spain, Germany, Switzerland and Italy to name a few places and we will be finishing off the year with visits to Madagascar, the Seychelles and then finally Mauritius, all part of the Staysure Tour. We’ll have Christmas at home and then the year all starts over again.
Are you away more now on the Seniors Tour?
When I was playing on the regular tour we had about 30 weeks of the year away and now I’d say it was about 19 weeks of the year on the Seniors, which is a lovely number and gives us time to extend a few days either side. I am lucky and it is a privileged lifestyle, which won’t last forever so we’re making the most of it. Of course, I intersperse my time with my role on the board of the European Tour where there’s some highbrow work being done. We help to make decisions about where the tour plays and the tour going forward, so it keeps things interesting.
We caught up with you on the first day of the British Seniors Open and you looked relaxed and excited to be on home turf at Royal Lytham. After placing T24 and bringing the champion Bernhard Langer home in the final round, how was it for you?
It was a fantastic week and I enjoyed everything about it from catching up with old friends, to playing the course, I thought what they’ve done with the course was spectacular, it was playing well. I had my son Josh caddying for me for the first time in a while, normally my wife Sharon carries the bag for me, but she stepped down and he took the bag and we had a blast.
Somehow, I was the most relaxed I’d ever been with no expectations for the competition and playing nicely, I managed to get the lowest score on Saturday. I was disappointed on the last day not to hole any putts, but it was great to play with Bernhard as we’ve not played for about 15/20 years ago. It was nice to catch up with him although the play was a little slow.”
Do you still have a great passion for coaching and growing the game even now you’re on tour fulltime?
Definitely, but unfortunately, I don’t get time to help any juniors and I do miss that. As I’m playing pro-ams all the time, I’m interacting with amateurs. So, it’s almost like a reversal to when I was an assistant playing in pro-ams and looking after the amateurs, now I’m a Senior Pro I’m playing in pro-ams all the time and I’m looking after the club golfer.
So, it’s great to help out and listen to the amateur’s journey, and if they have any struggles, I have the full day on the course to help them. I love that side of things and when I’ve finished playing I’d like to get back into the coaching side and try to find a mentor role somewhere.
There’s so much talk about the importance of nutrition in golf. What is your approach to staying fit and healthy when you’re on tour and on the course?
I’ve gone on the Nuroco High Fat diet and that’s been great in terms of improving my mental energy. I found myself flagging in the day although my diet was ok. I was introduced blindly to Nuroco instant coffee, which my wife had got off a friend and began to drink it once or twice a day.
Then I had a board meeting down in London, and when driving home I noticed that normally I’d take two stops to get home and I did it in one go, still feeling very alert. It was probably after about three weeks of taking it I noticed I was able to go hit some practice shots after I’d played a round, normally I wouldn’t have the energy.
I’m now a lot more alert, but after finding out more about the science behind this product, you realise how it makes sense and I know a couple of other players who have started trying it. Nuroco is currently being tested at Liverpool University and is essentially based on the bulletproof diet.
Physically though getting older is a struggle so I’ve started doing a yoga class online for half an hour every morning and I’ve noticed my movement is so much better. I still go to the gym in fits and starts but my diet and the yoga side of things still keep me going now I’m 50+!
Do you ever get a moment to relax and what do you like to do?
Yes, of course, I love watching and listening to sport on the TV. When I’m at home I’ll have maybe two TV’s on, the laptop and the radio going with all the sport that’s going on. I absolutely love it, and that is me, and this time of year, with all the football on, it’s just great.
Is there anywhere in the world that you’d still like to play?
There are some places and courses that I haven’t played enough of, certainly. I’d love to play more down in Australia. I’ve been lucky playing in South Africa, East and West Africa, South America and North America so I don’t think there’s anywhere, in particular, I haven’t played but it’s always good to follow the sun!
What do you think of the future of golf, as it’s grown in popularity yet there seems to be a decline as we see golf clubs struggle?
I don’t think the game has changed, it’s the industry around that’s broken. From online lessons to online equipment, it’s all there at the flick of a switch, and people have so many other things to do, so they won’t spend the time.
If you’re taking up the piano or guitar you know it’s going to take time to learn to play a tune, yet golf is not given the same attention. The local driving ranges are great now where people can go a try, but it’s sad when local municipals are struggling, and this is where most people started their golf at these venues and you have to go straight into a golf club, which is very daunting as a beginner.
So with 2020 fast approaching, what is your plan and focus for the new year and new season ahead?
Well, there will be more Staysure events, and I plan to get more involved in the tour and the connections I’ve made from my life in golf. I’d also like to get involved in some course design on an advisory capacity. Many clubs focus on developments of the clubhouse but tend to leave the course, which is the main reason for going there.
I think people assume that Pros want the course to be tougher, for me, having played with amateurs and seeing how they struggle my opinions are very different, I wouldn’t necessarily want to make them easier, but certainly more playable for club golfer. So, I’d remove the rough and some of the trees that weren’t there originally and make it more enjoyable.
Equipment has changed to make the game easier for golfers, but they don’t see the same benefits as a Tour Pro. So, instead of building tees further back, we should be moving them forward particularly for the juniors and ladies and the senior or club golfer that still struggles. Research is telling us that the game is too hard and it takes too long, so my ideas of moving everything forward would help this, but that’s a whole other debate!
We loved catching up with Paul Eales, and you can track his progress on the Staysure Tour on www.europeantour.com and Twitter @PaulEalesGolf