The Thirty-A Review July 2020

t u r f t a l k

Rafa Nadal: From Tennis to Golf b y To m F i t z p a t r i c k

Tom Fitzpatrick and Rafa Nadal

Rafa airborne

Spanish Peccadillo

R afa Nadal’s victories in both the French and US Opens in 2019 brings his major wins to nineteen, just one behind Roger Federer. I recently traveled to the Nadal Tennis Academy, off the coast of Spain. This sprawling campus in the countryside offers an American International School, modern hotel, and sports complex. One morning I was invited to watch Rafa’s full practice session with coach Carlos Moya. From my perch of a mere ten feet off the court, his display of power and agility was remarkable. Afterwards, Rafa invited us to his Golf Challenge, sponsored by Sotheby’s Intl. Realty, for eighteen holes of competition. He is an avid golfer and often ventures to the course during an off day. Some favorite golf venues include Palm Springs and Miami; and he’s teed it up with Bubba, Freddie, and Sergio. He corrects his handicap when we thought it was two. “No, I am now 1.5” he says with a grin. He plays tennis lefty, but golf righty. “You have a very good swing,” I insist, to which he replies, “No, my swing is no good.” On one hole he had a pitching wedge into the green. He stopped the club quickly after hitting the ball with the left elbow tucked into his left hip.

His powerful legs resist against the ground as he winds his core. With a high right arm on the takeaway he sets the club on a more vertical plane going back. It’s a short backswing that builds tremendous torque. There is very little wasted motion. As he starts the downswing, he holds the angle in the back of his right wrist before whipping his arms thru impact, much like a two-handed backhand. He finishes quite forward in a vertical line. On a par five, I watched him fly his second shot up a big hill and land atop the green twenty feet away. Wow! After golf, we convened for a reception in an outdoor veranda. Rafa answered questions with the Mediterranean shining behind him. The chef seasoned and garnished the Spanish Peccadillo. Sensational! We asked if he’d seen the recent 60 Minutes special on his life in Mallorca. He doesn’t like to watch his own interviews but said perhaps he’d watch it on the flight over to Acapulco, which he won just prior to the virus shutting the world down. I asked what instructional books he like. He replies, “I skipped all the books,” but he did like watching Sampras while growing up. His strategy is if you don’t take chances, you don’t win tennis tournaments. He says both he and Federer like normal diets. And the same goes for his fitness routine. At one point he

looked at his phone to say that his fitness trainer has been texting him saying you are thirty minutes late for training! After ignoring the texts, he eventually gave in to the trainer and says with a glowing smile, “Guys it’s been fun, but I must go.” At dinner, ESPN’s Mike Tenenbaum told some great football stories. During our Stay at Home, tennis psychologist Jim Loehr held a webinar. The research they found at the Human Performance Institute is that winning more titles can oddly enough create unhappiness. That is, unless the athlete develops their sense of purpose. Nadal has found his—he’s complimentary, charitable, and a great guy both on and off the court!

Tom Fitzpatrick is a Leadbetter certified instructor. He is an active realtor with Scenic Sotheby’s Intl Realty. Reach him at (850) 225-4674 or visit

Tom Fitzpatrick

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