From Pinner potter to Pinner putter – how golf helped Gould return to form

Martin Gould says a more relaxed approach to snooker’s relentless tour schedule is helping him find his best form.

The Pinner potter made a spectacular start to the season, reaching the semi-finals of the first ranking event at the Wuxi Classic in China.

Although the world number 28’s form has been more mixed since, he is pleased with the way he is playing and believes the improvement can be traced to a change in his approach for this season.

The 33-year-old says picking and choosing his events, picking up his golf clubs, and taking a break from the practice table has helped tremendously.

“Ideally I want to get back in the Masters. It’s my local tournament.” – Martin Gould

“The start has not been too bad. I have made a couple of sacrifices and it seems to be working,” Gould told West London Sport.

“The PTCs have not been great but I have basically focused on the main ranking events.

“I have not been practising as much and am relaxing a bit more – mixing and matching things.

“I have been playing a bit of golf, going to the gym and making sure I am ready for the tournaments when they come around.”

It seems to be working. And Gould was the first to admit that things needed to change after a 2013/14 season which he himself described as “garbage” for the first six months.

The former world number 12 rediscovered his touch in time to qualify for the World Championship in impressive fashion, winning three qualifying rounds in fine style.

This season’s decision to carefully plan his touring arrangements and schedule has certainly helped him continue his upturn.

“I have been making sure I get the travelling right,” Gould added.

“I picked up lots of bugs from the long-haul events. Once I got back it was immediately unpacking again for the next one and having to adjust to another climate and my body wasn’t finding that great.

“I fell ill at the wrong times including – the UK Championship.

“I had a long chat with my coach Stephen Feeney. We needed to find happy medium and not burn myself out and feel comfortable when I went out to play.

Gould recently visited a school in Shanghai to pass on some snooker tips
Gould recently visited a school in Shanghai to pass on some snooker tips

“I don’t feel rushed and I think it is showing in my snooker. I feel healthier and I’ve certainly not been falling ill.”

It is also showing on the fairways and putting greens.

“I am playing a fair bit of golf,” said Gould, who turned professional in 1999.

“I am a 16 handicap – although some would say I am a bit of a bandit and the handicap should probably be about off about 12!

“But I do find golf relaxing. In golf, if you have a bad shot, you can have another go. In snooker after one bad shot you sit down – and that might be it for 10 minutes. So I’ve found some solace and relaxation through practicing some of my golf swings either on the various golf courses or at home using an indoor putting green so I can take as many shots as I wish at aiming to relax and unwind.

“I throw my toys out of the pram once in a blue moon. But I tend to be quite a calm person.

“That works for me in my snooker and means my opponents cannot get under my skin. If I miss a terrible shot, I just walk back to my seat and try to start laughing. Some people are bemused by it but it works for me.”

Gould’s career highlights:
2011 PTC11 finalist
2012 UKPTC winner in Gloucester
2013 Shoot Out champion
2013 Championship League winner
2014 Championship League runner-up
2010 & 2011 World Championship last 16
2011 PTC Grand Finals finalist

Gould, a keen Tottenham supporter, still feels a little aggrieved that after progressing to the last four at the Wuxi Classic, both he and Joe Perry struggled to get to grips with the table and ended up playing “club-standard snooker”.

“Me and Joe looked like novices,” Gould added. “I was annoyed that the table played so badly in such a big match. In the semi-finals it guts you a bit.”

But the setback has only made him more determined.

“Ideally I want to get back in the Masters,” Gould explained about the prestigious invitation event at Alexandra Palace which involves the elite players in the world. “It’s my local tournament.

“And I would definitely like a tournament victory or two in the season.

“Last season I was in good form towards the end but it wasn’t showing in the results.

“In the world qualifiers I found everything clicked. I had two 10-1 wins and then beat Liang Wenbo – although that was a bit twitchy. But I came through with flying colours.

“Last season I lost six matches on trot by the odd frame. At times you feel like you can’t carry on taking it and still think positively. But I battled through.”

Combining the battling qualities he showed to make the Crucible in 2014 with a better rested body and mind could see Gould replicate the success of the 2012/13 season when he won three trophies – including the one-frame snooker Shoot-Out in January 2013 and the Championship League.

Unsurprisingly they are up there with his career highlights, as is the World Championship run in 2010 when he so nearly beat eventual winner Neil Robertson.

“I had two sessions where I barely missed a ball,” Gould explained.

“That gave me so much belief that I could compete in the top 16. I showed what I can do. Hopefully there’s more to come.”

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