From private jets to playing alongside two PGA Tour stars, 18-year-old Jeff Guan has just had the experience of a lifetime.
Late last month, the talented two-time NSW and Australian Junior Champion discovered he had snared one of just two coveted Cameron Smith Scholarships, and less than three weeks later, he was jetting off to Florida to spend some invaluable time with the reigning Open Champion.
“I’m still speechless. It was just so awesome. Definitely a 10/10,” Guan said.
The Bexley golfer spent his first day at the Golf Australia house in Orlando alongside fellow scholarship recipient Joseph Buttress from Western Australia.
“That one night we stayed we actually played with Lucas Herbert at Isleworth Golf Club off the black tees, and that was pretty cool. It was really good playing with him; he’s such a good player.”
From there, it was onto Cam’s house for a week of practice and mentoring.
“We spent a couple days at his house and played a couple of rounds with him. I actually did some of Cam’s stats after we played with him, and surprisingly they showed he lost four shots and still managed to shoot seven under,” he said.
“He gave us chipping lessons, advice on what to do, and what life’s like on tour. Everything is definitely going to benefit me and my future career.”
The two then got a taste of luxury while travelling to LA with Cam for the US Open.
“We actually flew in a private jet with him. I thought we’d have to take a separate flight and meet him there, but that was pretty cool as well.”
Guan says getting to spend time with Smith while he prepared for the major at Los Angeles Country Club was one of the highlights of the experience.
“At the Open, he didn’t really do much practice, but the practice he did at that time was hard work. He had a set time limit and wanted to do things his way. If he wanted to work on his iron game, he’d do that for maybe thirty minutes to an hour just that day and move on to the next,” Guan explained.
“It wasn’t what I expected. I just never thought pros like him would practice like that. I just thought they’d hit a couple of balls off the tee, and if they were feeling good, they’d move on. Even if Cam hit a good shot, he’d drop another one and hit a different type of shot just in case.”
Still coming down from the high of the moment, Guan says he loved watching how the pro’s handled a tricky situation during a tournament, something you don’t often see back at home watching TV.
“Seeing Lucas’ and Cam’s game was great because, obviously, they have two different styles, and it showcases that it doesn’t matter what birdie you have in each area as long as you’re pretty good in all areas of your game and getting it in the hole.
“I learnt a lot from Cam’s game and how much knowledge he had. He seemed to know every little bit when he was doing the lesson with me. If I had hit a bad or average shot, he would tell me what I did wrong there or what I need to do better to improve. That was really helpful having a mentor to build my game up.”
Next up for the 18-year-old is the Sectional Qualifying for the US Amateur before heading to the Trans-Mississippi Amateur Championship, beginning on July 11th in Dallas, Texas.