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Still Learning, still improving: Dean Robertson Profile
It is thanks to Dean Robertson that Ian Doyle, best known as snooker star Stephen Hendry's manager, got into golf.

Doyle tells the story (ScottishGolf, June)that he agreed to see Robertson as a favour but four hours later sent him away with a contract - partly to get rid of him.

Robertson himself says: 'If that's what he said I can't argue. I don't think we spoke as long as that; maybe two-and-a-half hours. I obviously made a good impression but I wasn't trying to impress him, I was looking for a bit of guidance in the pro world and he was the most successful sports manager in Scotland.'

A manager with a stable of senior players he'd managed for a decade.

'You've really got to have all the pressures outwith the game taken off you and not worry about financial issues, travel and so on. Everything is sorted by them [110Sports, the management company of which Ian Doyle is chairman].

But surely, while Mr Doyle was a big fish in the snooker world, he knew very little about golf?

'He didn't have a clue about golf,' Dean says, 'but he's a very quick learner.'

But why not hitch your wagon to an established sports management company, like IMG?

'IMG has such a massive client base that unless you're a world superstar you're just a number, whereas 110 is more personal,' he says.

'When Mr Doyle took me it was uncharted territory and I think he made the right decision; it was another 5-6 years before he ventured into taking on anyone else.

'After one year he could tell you the stats of any of the players out there. He didn't know about the behind the scenes stuff but he did his homework very quickly. I think he's been sensible in the way he approached it.

'He does it for the love of sport, the challenge, the people - he maximises their talent and takes away the pressures.'

What is already beginning to emerge, perhaps, is that Dean Robertson is a man who ploughs his own furrow - he gives the impression that he looks, listens, talks and then makes a decision. Once made, he'll stick with it, irrespective of what anyone else thinks or feels.

Everyone on Tour wants to succeed but with Robertson that flame of ambition, while not worn as outwardly as it is with some, nevertheless directs everything he does.

You get the impression that if you cut him open the words 'hunger' and 'desire' would permeate right through, as if he were a stick of Blackpool rock.

For instance, he says: 'My game has improved since I turned pro and the level you have to achieve now is massive; you've got to be a fierce competitor physically and mentally. The difference between winning and not is experience and preparation. We're all gifted players but it's being able to use what we've got to the best of our ability.'

So it's not just about wanting it badly enough?
'If you want it badly enough you will succeed given that you will encounter a lot of mental demons along the way; like the fear of failure, what others might perceive of you and so on. So you've got to be totally single minded.'

And yet such dedication doesn't come without a price, so he was quick to add: 'You've got to enjoy it. When you're missing cuts that's when you need the good management. It would frighten you to life to consider the financial pressures. You've got the carrot at the end, which is massive but money doesn't make you play good golf. It comes down to all the preparation about getting yourself to be the best you're capable of being.'

Dean Robertson has been good for a long time now but is still looking to make that next move - from consistent cut-maker and money earner to consistent winner.

He says this is all part of the learning process and adds: 'Yesterday I finished 8th at the K Club [in the Smurfit European Open] and wasn't playing great golf. My game was about 60-70-% but you've got to know that you'll never have all guns blazing at the same time. That happened once in 6-7 years and I won.

'The courses are getting harder and the competition is really tough. When you're an amateur, if you're playing well and get yourself into a winning position; if you stay composed you'll almost certainly win whereas here you need to start moving through the gears because you can bet others will be.

'Players, athletes and sports people in general, are faster, stronger, more aggressive and it's all down to players like Tiger Woods - tennis is the same.

'Everyone has improved and it makes for a great spectacle.'

We were talking at Cochrane Castle GC in Paisley, where Dean's father was a member and where Dean took his own first steps along the way to golf as a career.

He was back at the invitation of the Paisley and District Junior Golf Initiative to launch a new scheme designed to bring more kids, especially those from less privileged backgrounds, into the sport he so clearly loves.

Watching him in action was instructive. He neither patronised nor spoke down to the kids but had a relaxed style to which they warmed - and let's face it, children can be the toughest audience of all to impress.

He has the disarming knack, while thinking over a question, of asking the interviewer what he thinks, and seems seriously interested in the response.

He also keeps up with the golfing scene in Scotland. The day we met was supposed to see the announcement of the Walker Cup team and he was as avid as everyone else for news of the Scots players included.

Then again, his own amateur record is pretty impressive, including the Scottish Youths, Scottish Amateur Stroke Play and Scottish Amateur Championships, as well as membership of Walker Cup and Eisenhower Trophy teams.

His pro career has been less stellar but he achieved his highest order of Merit ranking (25th) in '99, thanks largely to his maiden and so far only Tour win, the Fiat and Fila Italian Open.

He thinks his short game is probably better than his long and says: 'When you have a bad day, if you can consistently convert three shots into two then you are going to shoot par golf. You also need to accept the bad shots; it's hard but you've got to do it.'

For a man with such a hunger for success you suspect that this element of golf - learning to live with imperfection - has probably been the hardest lesson of all to absorb but it is one he continues to learn.

Dean Robertson on:

His advice to newcomers on Tour -
You've just got to talk to people and find out a little bit; be like a sponge and take things in from others. Over 5-6 years you're going to get a lot of experience

His own playing strengths -
I think you'll find that all the top players are strong in all departments and you cannot let one department of your game massively outweigh the other. You've got to have an all-round game.
My short game is probably better than the long game

The loss of characters in the modern game -
Woosie's a great player but he's not in the pub every night like he might have been in the past. I'm getting better all the same but then, so is everyone else and you have to put in the hours if you want to see the results

Playing in Scotland -
Loch Lomond and St Andrews are my favourite courses in Scotland. Last year was just heaven for me because we went straight from one to the other in consecutive weeks.

Pic credit: David Cannon/Allsport

©    7 - AUGUST 2001

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