Norfolk County golf coach Graver is man with a plan

Norfolk lead coach Craig Graver is a man with a plan.

The 36-year-old picked up the county coaching reins at the end of last year and has been quick to set out his aims for the year, but insists there is no quick fix.

Graver, who has been a teaching professional at Sprowston Manor since 2004, sees his primary aim as introducing more structure and a clear progression path through the county ranks.

'I feel like I have big challenge on my hands but I'm looking forward to it,' he said. 'There have been a lot of changes in the county set-up and I'm sure they will be for the better and for good. I was very pleased to take up the role and I certainly don't take the responsibility lightly.

'I'm all for trying to create a structure to the county set-up and clear path of progression for the players from the Under-14s through to senior level, but this won't happen overnight. I want the lads to be desperate to represent their county and hopefully this in turn will help breed competition through the ranks.'

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Graver operates a training window from September through to March but the timing of his appointment meant that he'd already missed a large portion of this time and is now planning for the next window later this year.

'My role is to organise the coaching programmes through all the age groups to the senior mens teams. I'll then allocate professionals from around the county who will take charge of each group. I'm really keen to open the whole process up a bit and make it more inclusive. I've received a lot of good feedback already this year, from the sessions we've held and from the pros involved.

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'When I first took the job at the end of last year I said that we'd already missed most of the training window. The real coaching has to start in September through to March. You can't be making too many changes during the season because it will just mess up the players' games at a time when they are in competitions.'

Graver has already held two profiling sessions with the Under-18 and Under-16 county teams where he's assessed each individual's game to determine what areas need work in order for them to develop.

'Once I've got these initial sessions out of the way my focus will be on September, you really do have to plan that far ahead,' said Graver. 'Of course these plans will take into account how the players fare during the summer.

'I've held two sessions so far with the under-18s and the under-16s. They are profile sessions to see what the players' are strengths and weaknesses are and to basically see what we've got to work with.

'From the sessions we've held so far it's clear we've still got to work on the fundamentals. It sounds funny to say but I'm surprised to see how little the players know about their own swing.

'We've got to work on short game and wedge play, which was poor, and then also on course play and course management. Don't get me wrong the lads I've seen so far are good strikers of the ball and hit it a long way but there is so much more to the game of golf than that.

'The lads haven't been used to playing foursomes in club competition and it takes a totally different mindset. We need to give them more of an understanding of what they are trying to achieve.'

Graver's focus is very much on the future but he will also be working closely with mens interim captain Iain Yule in order to get the best out of the season with the senior first and second teams.

'In terms of the mens team it's difficult to gauge what it's going to take to get some good results. At first and second team level the players' swings are all quality, or should be. There's not a lot you can do, and you shouldn't really have to if I'm honest, to improve their swings. Again short game is the key and I'm sure that there are areas which can be fine-tuned,' he said.

As a whole the county struggles to match the playing and financial resources of counties such as Hertfordshire, for instance, which boasts 182 golf clubs compared to Norfolk's 32.

But Graver is confident that Norfolk can still compete and it's just a case of making the most of what they've got.

'It's clear the depth of playing talent is that much deeper in a county such as Hertfordshire but Norfolk can still compete. The talent has got to be spotted early and then developed, and that in turn will translate into results, hopefully, at each level through to the senior ranks.'

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