In this week’s Player Blog presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Santiago Tarrio talks about his route into professional golf, securing his card for next year, and the importance of his mental coach.
My father introduced me to golf when I was nine years old, and I decided from a young age I wanted to be a professional. He is a golf professional, and gave me lessons at Val de Rois Golf Club in Galicia in the north of Spain, and I just loved it. It’s where I’ve been training all of my life.
And by the time I was 17 I turned professional, but I didn’t start trying to play internationally until 2016 because it was just too expensive. When I made the decision to turn professional it was because there was a very good Spanish circuit that I thought I could play to get experience and would help me be ready and able to play international circuits. But just six months after I turned professional, the economic crisis hit in 2008 and all of that just disappeared for me. It changed everything for me, because while travelling around Spain was cheap and I could manage my expenses, playing a full season on the Alps Tour internationally was just too expensive for me. So in the end, I had to stop playing golf other than practicing, and I started working as a waiter until I could find a way to afford an international tour, which took a few years.
It wasn’t until 2016 that I met my current girlfriend, and now caddie, and we decided I should try to play, but with almost no financial resources. It was tough, and at times I just felt like it was just too much pressure for me to risk everything I had and I actually wanted to give up, but she pushed me, and she looked for a coach as a last chance to try to help us. We met my mental coach Joaquín Dosil, we formed a team, and from then on we were adding important people to our team, finding several important sponsors for us, technical and physical trainers, etc. It changed everything, and gave me that chance to really give myself that chance to properly commit to playing professional golf.
My mental coach Joaquín is a very important piece in my team because he has helped me in the worst moments, and he always believed in me. In golf there will always be bad times and the difference is in the desire and patience you have to get out of them, and Joaquín has helped me realise that. Having that person to help you mentally in golf is so important. And he helps off the course too, helping me to stay in the present.
My girlfriend is also a very important part of my team, although she wasn’t my caddie at the beginning. Five years ago she accompanied me for the first time to a tournament and she didn't come to the course, she stayed at the swimming pool. That same day she told me that doing that was too boring, and that she wanted to be part of the movie. So we decided she would caddie for me, and she has been brilliant. Since then she has invested all her time in getting better at her job and I can't even say here how good a caddie she is because some top player might read it and want to sign her, but I wouldn’t have won without her.
Things have definitely been a lot more successful for me this year, and I think the key to that has really been my belief that I can play with the other guys. When I won on the Challenge Tour for the first time I felt I wasn't playing at 100 per cent, but I played calm because I finally felt that that any week I could have a chance to win. Although honestly during my first win, even on the last day in the Czech Republic, I didn't think that would be my first win. I played really well, but I think luck smiled on me a little bit that day, and I was very happy to win in that play-off. Getting my second victory a few weeks later just helped that belief, and it was special because it was in Spain and it's always nice to win in your country. It also moved me to the top of the Road to Mallorca Rankings, which practically secured my European Tour card for next year, which was a huge goal.
Now, my goal right now is to prepare as well as I possibly can for next season on the European Tour. I have my card secured for next year and I have been trying to use the tournaments I play on the European Tour this year to gain experience, although at the same time I hope to get back out in the final group on a Sunday. I feel like finishing third at the Hero Open really helped me to believe that I do belong out here, and that I can fight for a tournament on the European Tour. I just hope to get another chance to win, but more than that right now I hope that now I’m getting the chance to play a full season on the European Tour, I consolidate my position. Once I achieve these goals, I will try to go for bigger ones.
That’s why I’m excited to play this week at the Dutch Open, because it gives me another chance to gain experience for when I play on Tour next year. And to be playing at a tournament I’ve been watching on TV for many years is special too, and I can’t wait to get the ball rolling on Thursday.