Hard work and discipline can mean the difference between success and failure for the thousands of very talented golfers striving to have their chance on the big stage. Clearly, the ones that have a greater chance of making it are the ones that put in the most effort.
Tim Sluiter, European Tour and Challenge Tour player is one of the hottest golfing talents to emerge from Holland. Tim took time out of his busy schedule to meet The Gecko on the Wall for an evening of talking golf. At 8:32 pm on a cold rainy Monday evening Tim arrived at our meeting place still steaming from a shower!
Q How was your day and how have you been spending your time?
Sorry I am a bit late. Had a good day, very productive. I spent a few hours on the range this morning working on a few things and then played 18 holes at Lauro Golf. I then went to Guadalhorce and played the 18 holes there as well. (Both courses being used in the upcoming Gecko Pro Tour tournament)
Q So Tim, when you are not out all day freezing on the golf course what is your favourite pastime?
I like to watch my football team FC Twente, although they are not doing that well lately or I watch field hockey. But with today’s weather I would prefer to be skiing, I love skiing.
Q You sound like you enjoy many sports, what made you decided to choose golf?
I always knew I wanted to be a professional athlete. I was a pretty good at field hockey when I was younger but I also loved golf. For me that is where the big money is. Field hockey doesn’t pay well but come to think of it, I am probably earning the same as a field hockey player at this moment anyway!
Q What was your best amateur sporting moment?
Winning the French amateur Open was definitely a highlight but I would say when we won the European Boys Championship in 2005 for the first time in Dutch history and then again in 2006 when Team Holland won the World Amateur Championship for the first time in my country’s history. Yes definitely those 3 team wins.
Q What convinced you to become a pro golfer?
It was when I reached a crossroads when I was about 13, Like I said I knew I wanted to be a professional athlete and I had to choose between hockey or golf. I chose golf.
Q What has been the highlight of your professional career so far?
Getting my card to play on the European tour for the first time through Q School and thinking that this was the beginning of big things.
Q How did you hear about The Gecko Pro Tour?
I actually heard about The Gecko Pro Tour from Manuel Quiros while playing on the Challenge Tour. I played with him a few times and he had a Gecko Tour bag. We talked about it back then, about 3 years ago when The Gecko Tour started, so I guess I have always known about The Gecko Pro Tour since you started.
Q How do you rate the standard of The Gecko Tour compared to the other tours you play on ?
Well the prize money could be better obviously! The courses are great. The quality of the Spanish players here are very good, Jordi Garcia, Carlos Del Moral, Canizares, Martin Benavides, they are all top players and you have Eirik Tage and a few top boys from around Europe and Scandinavia so the competition is very good.
Q At each event we have a group of favourites and they are always different, it would be good to have all of you top guys playing in the same event, would you like that?
Obviously you want to attract a lot of top players but it is not that simple. At this time we have other priorities but if it suits our schedules we can pop over and play. This year, I will only be able to play four events before I start my Challenge Tour schedule.
Q I actually think from watching our players during the entire season that the quality is not that far behind The Challenge Tour players. What do you think having played against them now?
In my opinion, the Challenge Tour is nearly as good as the main European Tour at the moment. At the same time, other tours such as The Gecko Pro Tour are also getting closer and closer. There are many more pro golfers coming through now and the gap between us all is smaller and smaller.
Q Do you think your time on The Gecko Pro Tour has helped your preparations for your upcoming Challenge Tour schedule?
Definitely! I already feel the difference from my first round on The Gecko to my last round at Rio Real. I have had five solid tournament rounds. If I started my season at Madeira like I started at Marbella I would not have been confident to make the cut, but now I feel ready. I didn’t come here for the prize money, I came here to prepare and the costs I incurred while here were a sound investment in my game. I was on the reserve list to play in Morocco but I spoke to Jordi who told me what was going on here, so I chose The Gecko Pro Tour.
Q What is your strongest part of your game?
Inside 130 yards. My coach in America drummed into me that the wedge was the most important aspect of making birdies. With my wedge, I have the most control. I carry four of them in my bag. I like my Nike wedges I must admit.
Q What is your weakest part?
At the moment it has to be my driver. I hit the ball a long way but for the last few years they have been going a little off line and costing me too many shots.
Q Does this weakness get into your head like it does for us amateur golfers?
Obviously at any level it gets into your head. That why all levels of golfer can relate to it. It happens to all of us. It is just the way you deal with it that makes the difference.
Q What golfer do you look up to the most?
As a kid it was always Tiger but now it is obviously Rory
Q Is there a Dutch golfer who is a role model for you?
Joost Luiten is currently the best Dutch golfer and he is also a friend of mine. We have been playing against each other since we were kids. Although I am impressed by the way he performs, I wouldn’t go as far as to say I look up to him.
Q Who would you rate as the top 5 Golfers of all time?
It would have to be Nicklaus, Trevino, Tiger, McIlroy and Palmer.
Q What advice would you give to young golfers who are thinking of turning pro?
Take your time. Don’t rush it. Take as much time as possible as an amateur learning your trade. I rushed my transition into being a pro and looking back I should have taken more time at University of California as an Amateur. Real life will start soon enough!
Q My final question is what are your personal goals for 2015?
Many thanks, Tim, and on behalf of The Gecko Pro Tour we wish you every success on the Challenge Tour this year.