‘One hundred times better than I thought it would be’ was how Jed Morgan defined his recent week-long stint as a guest of Australia’s ISPS HANDA World Cup representative and defending Australian PGA Champion, Cameron Smith.
Jed and good mate Louis Dobbelaar, recent recipients of the $12,500 Cameron Smith Scholarship, were guests of the world No.31 at his home in Jacksonville in what was merely a gesture of good will and encouragement.
“He looked after us awesome,” added 17-year-old Louis who spent his September school holidays playing TPC Sawgrass, Atlantic Beach and Pablo Creek.
And now the duo is ready to turn practise into perfection when they tee it up as two of the amateurs in the field of 132 in next week’s Isuzu Queensland Open at The Brisbane Golf Club. But they are by no means rookies – this will be the third time for Louis and the second for Jed.
“I am much more confident, and certainly better prepared, for spending that time with Cam,” beamed Jed, the 18-year-old who learned his trade on the family’s 11-hole course at Hatton Vale, west of Brisbane.
“While the week was simply unreal and the experience something I will never, ever forget, it is my approach to the game itself rather than my golf that I know will benefit. Cam emphasised the importance of knowing yourself and knowing your game, and while I understand it’s a cliché, I already feel his advice is going to make me a better player.
“And in a strange kind of way, I also feel more mature after our visit, both on and off the golf course.”
Grade 12 student Louis was equally impressed, but not overawed. The trio, plus QAS Head Coach Tony Meyer – who acted as a pseudo chaperone – spent a week in Smith’s five-bedroom home which Louis described as ‘really nice, but not ridiculous’.
“Cam was just so great, and looked after us,” he said.
“And I really think he enjoyed having us stay with him. He is absolutely so genuine and understated, and knows his game so well.
“What was so inspirational for me was knowing that just a few years ago he was where we are, training with the QAS, working hard and trying to be better.”
Louis will go one better than his hero next week as he plays the event for the third time as an amateur, while Cam played twice after turning professional for the 2013 Open. Another advantage Louis has is that he trains at The Brisbane Golf with the QAS, is a member of the club and played Pennants for them this year. And, he has been freshly inspired by one of his absolute golfing heroes.
For Jed, the feeling is similar. He says after his Jacksonville visit and reassurance from Cam that the world is certainly their oyster, he can definitely picture himself playing on the US PGA Tour one day.
“And I think Louis and I, who have become great mates, can do it together, which would be really cool,” he said.
“One of the best things about being with Cam, and seeing how he conducts himself, is the humility he shows. And that was humbling to me, too. He has certainly become my role model.”
And while he lavishes praise on Smith, and his magnanimous gesture, he confidently predicts it will be a much different Jed Morgan who tees off in the Isuzu Queensland Open next week.
“My game has improved from that experience, especially in my head,” says Jed, who last year missed the cut by a shot.