Cam Lancaster – Chapter 1 – The decision to pursue professional golf.

  1. How about a quick introduction to readers.

My name is Cam Lancaster, and I am a golf performance coach, I started the brand Lancaster Golf Performance, and I am also a budding professional golfer.  I run four different academies, 1 online and three in person.  My work focuses on, and you know this well as you’ve been a part of it, swing bio-mechanics, short game strategies. Really just trying to get golfers to score better is my main objective.

36 A Day – You take a really holistic approach to that.

CL – I try to!

2 You have shared with me you’re actively pursuing playing professional golf. I assume this is not a new goal, but what has changed to make you actively pursue this.

Cam Lancaster. Golf Instructor. And now, Golf Professional.

It has probably been a goal for me since I was probably 9 years-old, to want to do it.  The first goal was to play NCAA, and I think even the weight of that goal could have had an impact on me in terms of putting pressure on myself from a young age.  So, a question like what has changed, well I started coaching 5 years ago with no thought at all about playing pro.  I had left competitive golf when I was 18, which is about 10 years ago now, pretty much terrified of playing competitive golf.  It brought me a lot of anxiety, took me away from normal life and when I got into coaching, I began to play again.  I got the bug to play again and test my methods.  So, it started as a project to see if my coaching methods would work so I am really the product of my own environment. 

36 A Day – With a plan to pursue it more actively, have you dabbled into it over the past season or two be it single events?

CL – No I haven’t, and this will be the first year to really do it.  Truthfully, I am looking at this as a business transaction; I want to know that I am prepared from a scoring standpoint to actually do it.  Three years ago, I was shooting mid 70’s, a couple years ago I was low 70’s and then last year I started dipping into the high 60’s and keep working on getting shot by shot a little better.  It was based on performance and how I felt I could compete.

3 So what are your goals as a professional player?

CL – I think I’d be lying to myself to say I didn’t want to win tournaments and progress to the next level.  The way it works, the feeder system is mini tour and hope you progress to the Canadian Tour, Korn Ferry and than PGA. That would be the route for any Canadian golfer.  I want to set a high goal and try to win 2-3 times a year.  But really, I don’t put too much pressure on goals, I like the Scottie Scheffler approach where I try to get 1 percent better each day.  But it is in the back of my mind, for sure.  Moving away from being obsessive about the goals is really helpful for me.

36 A Day – So it is more of a process focus?

CL – 100 percent.  And from there the process should take care of itself.

When you hit the fairway all the time, the walks are more relaxed!

4 You run a dynamic instructional academy now. Will you seek to balance this with your professional golf pursuits?

CL – I think I am still trying to figure that one out.  I am lucky in a sense that I have positioned my Academy in a way where I work with higher net worth individuals, and I am not forced to work an insane amount of coaching hours. I can make a good living working off instruction 20-25 hours a week, plus 10 administrative hours.  And I have an incredibly supportive wife, she really is the rock for me, letting me head off the golf course for 10 hours, but a lot of it is just being strategic with my time.  I have learned this from Roger Federer; he would plan years in advance, down to daily schedules.  It’s not at that level for me but I like to plan my month and how it’s going to look like.  I take the mentality that I need to train every day.  I got that idea from my buddy Johnny (Travale) who is on Team Canada. The way I look at it, he is on a highway 5 miles ahead of me and moving at 120 miles an hour.  I was moving at 100 miles an hour so I would never catch him.  What he had said to me was that he simply never takes days off.  I’ve been outdoors hitting balls for 23 straight days now.

36 A Day – I believe it.  I am on Instagram, and I see you on there posting videos of hitting balls while it’s snowing out.

CL – That’s why my hands are always taped up (laughs)

5 To which, it’s still winter here in southern Ontario. When do you see yourself making a season debut as a playing professional?

There is a tournament in late May, May 24th, in Belleville on the Toronto Players Tour.  There are two options here in Ontario – The East Coast Professional Tour and the Toronto Players Tour, which is relatively new.  I believe the top five receive automatic qualification into the Canadian Tour Q School so the goal, talking about goals again, at a minimum is to make that top 5.  But really part of this is just feeling it out; do I really want to do it.  It really is a huge time commitment and there’s a lot of sacrifice.

36 A Day – You talked about the fact that you’re a planner, do you a season roughly mapped out for yourself?

CL – Yeah. The Toronto Players Tour oddly enough is a short season.  There’s 10 events and I’d like to play a minimum of 8.  I’ll base it on performance, if there’s more work, I need do in the shop I will have a shorter season but if it is going really well, I will add another 5 events on another tour. 

6 You come from a family of accomplished and skilled golfers. What is the support you’re getting at home? And have you roped in one of your brothers to caddy for you?

Yeah, my older brother Mike.  For the caddying thing, he’d be the guy for me.  He’s one who can really ground me.  He is also really good at understanding the competitive environment because he’s been there; he was a top 5 amateur player in Canada.  He has won an NCAA tournament, and lots of tournaments growing up and there is this sense of calm I always have when I am with him.  It’s not realistic for him to caddy for me at every event but he will definitely be there for the first few. 

And my wife, she has no interest or knowledge on golf but that helps because she can give me that outside perspective.  And I can also get away from it, which I really struggle with.

36 A Day – It is nice to have that balance at home, right?

CL – Absolutely.  And my twin brother Chris, he has really helped me.  He is kind of like a short game guru that no one really knows about.  But he helps me how to organize myself and with practice habits.  I don’t really have a swing coach because I am a swing coach (laughs) but if I am ever feeling really lost, I can go to my mentor Scott Cowx who truly is a swing guru and is one of the greatest coaches in the world in my estimation. 

7. I am a scratch player stuck in a 10 handicappers’ body. Even I dream of success in competitive play. As someone who’s pursuing professional golf, what is your advice for anyone who’d like to succeed in a competitive golf environment?

You know, you’ve gotta play a lot.  Getting repetitions in on the golf course, you can’t replace that.  And even if it is into a simulator indoors, it is really important.  And the one skill that anyone can get to be world class is the short game.  Making your short game the biggest priority because it does take the pressure off everything else.  I always use the analogy if you have two golfers and they both hit the first four greens in regulation and the one guy one putts every hole and the other guys two putts every hole, on the 5th tee the guy who’s two putt every hole has a lot more pressure with his driver than the other guy so he’s got to swing better.  My brothers, growing up, we would have short game contests until the sun went down and just try to beat the hell out of each other (laughs).  The practice habits have to be geared toward performance and not so much the technical look of the swing. 

8 We have worked together – instructor and student – for 2 years now. I am asking you to put on your student hat. What do you need to work on with your game to achieve your golf goals?

Speed has always been a concern for me.  But I think I am finally coming to the end of that chapter; I have gotten myself up to a minimum baseline of speed.

36 A Day – So you will be able to hang with the guys out there?

CL – Yeah, at the very least I am at about 166 MPH ball speed, and I used to be around 157.  That was a serious problem, I mean I could not compete when I was that short.  Now I am moving my focus on being a really good short iron player; I am good driver of the golf ball, I hit it generally straight, and now long, so I am going to be in the range of 100 to 150 yards a lot so I need to be elite in that area.  Elite means to me hitting it between 17 to 22 feet every time, maximum.  Best in the world from that range is about 17 feet and average PGA Tour is 22 (feet).  With that is becoming a good mid range putter too.  If you’re getting that many opportunities with strong iron play, you have to capitalize.  So mid-range putting, and short iron play are the two areas of focus.

36 A Day – Sounds like you are really in tune with yourself and your game.

CL – I try to be (laughs).

9 Final question for now – what is your victory celebration look like? Understated? Hat throw? Primal yell? Tiger-esque fist raise? 

Yeah, I really don’t know.  Truthfully, probably a lot of relief, maybe a lot of emotions.  Generally, I don’t have a lot of highs and lows and I know about the sacrifice that has gone into this so there could be some tears to be honest.

36 A Day – maybe our next lesson we can go head-to-head, and you get some practice with managing victory (laughs)

CL – Sure thing Mike, I always enjoy competition!

36 A Day – Thank you, Cam.  I appreciate this.  I am hopeful I can stay connected throughout your journey and do this again over the spring and summer?

CL – Absolutely, thank you Mike. I would enjoy that. 

36 A Day – Good luck, Cam!

,Some late season short game work. My experience with Cam has been excellent and I wish him every success in his professional playing pursuits.

Mildly addicted to the game of golf. Fiercely loyal. A planner, a dreamer, reflective and a proud and passionate Canadian. A father. A fiancé. A tree planter. A Trent graduate. A dog owner. Falling in love with my putter after many failed relationships. A scratch golfer stuck in a 10 handicap body. Love, love, love golf value. Fade on a good day. One ace (and seeking a second). A golf writer/blogger focused on public golf in Canada. Chipping away at my own Bucket List of Canadian golf courses.