CANBERRA’S Josh Armstrong does a pretty good job at keeping things close to his chest; he is also one of the more composed 18-year-olds you are likely to come across.
It’s probably not a bad thing because his chosen field is golf; he is Australia’s top-ranked junior boy’s golfer and ranked eighth in the men’s amateur rankings.
With schooling at Burgmann College almost out of the way, his focus will now turn to making one of the biggest decisions of his life – stay as an amateur and head to one of the American colleges clamouring for him to be part of their programs or turn professional?
According to Josh: “There is not much difference between the amateurs and pros. Golf’s golf! But with the amateurs there is less going on around you.”
My observation is that the pro circuit can be a bit of a circus with managers, agents, sponsors and tournament organisers pulling players in different directions, coupled with the constant pressure of securing places in tournaments.
As an amateur, the players are left to focus on the game itself. There is an element of purity in amateur golf. There is not the pressure created by the lure of playing for money. On the other side of the coin, the financial appeal of turning professional can’t be easily discounted.
“You look at what a lot of guys have done, they were in a similar position to me,” says Josh.
“From that sense, it makes you want to turn pro pretty quickly.”
So, does he stay or does he go?
“Both are going to do wonders for my golf. I haven’t decided what I am going to do yet. I do have offers in the [United] States, but I feel comfortable here,” he says.
It is an old head that doesn’t rush into the attraction of turning professional straight away and Josh definitely has “an old head’.
“I need to make sure I am doing it properly,” he says.
There are plenty of players who have gone from college to the pros in the US. They start on the American mini-tours, which can be costly. By some estimates it can cost about $50,000 to cover living expenses. For the PGA tour, the estimated cost is $110,000. However, with a couple of really good performances through the year, a player can easily cover the costs, but then there is the pressure of playing week-in-week-out to keep your tour playing card.
Josh has sought good advice, talking to Matt Millar at Gold Creek. He also spent time with Adam Scott and Jason Day in September while playing in the Junior President’s Cup in New Jersey.
Josh says: “There were things I learnt from those guys, it wasn’t necessarily just what they were saying, it was observing things I can implement and changes that I can make to improve.”
In many ways Josh has spent his life mining for improvements. He first held a golf stick as a one year old going on to win the Junior European Championship at 12 as well as the Australian Schools under-19 title. It’s been a breathtaking ride so far.
By his own admission Josh loves golf and is obsessive about the sport.
“There are times when I have to force myself to take a break for an hour or so,” he says.
“There are times when I go through a rough patch and have to grit my teeth. There are other times though when I am playing well and I just want to keep going. You have to be patient with golf.”
As he resists the temptation to rush into turning professional, it appears patience is one of his many virtues.