Jean van de Velde on his teaching gig, Open heartbreak and Open records
Frenchman Jean van de Velde will forever be known for the three-shot lead he squandered on the 18th hole of the Open Championship at Carnoustie in 1999, but now he’s content in his full-time job as a golf instructor.
GOLF: You’ve played a handful of times on the European Senior Tour since turning 50, but what takes up your time?
Jean van de Velde: I always loved being a teacher. When you play, you don’t have much time to learn, but I have always been fascinated by the mechanics of the game. We opened up a huge facility in Paris near the airport to teach, and I’m down here at Punta Mita, Mexico at the Four Seasons golf course most of the year helping others…
GOLF: Would JVDV the teacher have helped JVDV the pro golfer?
Jean van de Velde: Yes, without a doubt. Teaching brings a lot of things back to the table and you say, why didn’t I do that before when I was playing? When you have a scorecard in your pocket and a pencil in your hand it’s a different deal, but you learn so much more as a teacher.
GOLF: How does teaching mainly amateurs compare with playing professional golf for a living which you did for so long?
JVDV: One thing we all enjoy with members and kids or guests is we share the same passion about the game. We can just enjoy each other’s company and play golf. It doesn’t matter if we are at the same level or not. I’ve played very little since I turned 55. One of the reasons I stopped in 2011, is I didn’t want to play 21-25-30 times abroad. I might play a little more on the European legends tour, we’ll see, but you’ll never see me join it.
GOLF: Do you watch the Open Championship when it comes on TV?
JVDV: I watch the last rounds of the Masters, Ryder Cup, and the Open Championship. Without a doubt, I always see them.
GOLF: Does it hurt you to watch the Open Championship or do you enjoy it?
JVDV: Why would it hurt me? At the end of the day, what a wonderful experience. The result was not what I wanted it to be, but at the end of 72 holes, nobody beat me. We had a playoff to break a tie. I’ve talked about it a million times. It’s didn’t hurt me, but I can only talk for myself. Maybe it hurt others.
GOLF: Is there something about your golf career you think gets overlooked?
JVDV: Putting is something I know how to do. In 149 Open Championships the record for putting on 72 holes is 101 putts. You know who holds that? Me.