Calum Hill hopes 'good team set up' can get him 'kicking doors on top tens'

Scot says results so far in 2024 have been ‘average’ but he’s feeling good about some big changes
Calum Hill in action during the recent Hero Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club. Picture: Warren Little/Getty Images.Calum Hill in action during the recent Hero Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club. Picture: Warren Little/Getty Images.
Calum Hill in action during the recent Hero Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club. Picture: Warren Little/Getty Images.

By his own admission, it’s been an “average” start to 2024 for Calum Hill in terms of results, having made the cut in all three of his outings so far but finishing further down leaderboards than he’d been hoping for in the Dubai Invitational, Hero Dubai Desert Classic and Ras Al Khaimah Championship. But, as the 29-year-old Scot prepares for the fourth leg of the DP World Tour’s Desert Swing, this week’s Bahrain Championship presented by Bapco Energies, he is feeling quietly confident that his game is heading in the right direction.

Over a period of time, Hill has pieced together a team that he believes can help get the best out of him, having been flying when he landed a breakthrough win in the Cazoo Classic in 2021 before missing most of the following campaign due to a health issue then gradually working his way back into things again last season and now feeling feeling back to full fitness.

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“The results so far this year have been on the average side and there’s a wee sense of frustration as you like to get off to hot starts and that’s not happened in the first three events, but there’s lots of good things in motion and, with two more weeks to come in the Middle East (the Qatar Masters completes this phase of the campaign), I’m hoping to kick on a bit,” he told The Scotsman.

“I’ve got a good team set up around me now with performance, coaching, tech and all sorts. Rob Goldup is doing the performance, soft tissue and gym and all that kind of encompassing, Jonah Oliver is doing psychology, which is fantastic. Shauheen Nakhjavani is on swing coaching, Andy Paisley is on putting and Graham Walker is helping me with my short game.

"It’s a lot of really good people who add in lots of great facets and obviously Iain Stoddart and Derek Ritchie of Bounce Sport Management are part of that team, too. It’s not just happened overnight. We’ve been adding one person at a time. They’ve all added a nice skill set that can hopefully keep pushing different aspects of my game forward. Everyone is working really hard just to try and kick me on as much as they can.”

Walker’s face is well kent, having been England Golf’s head coach for a lengthy period of time and now working with Tommy Fleetwood on his short game. As for Nakhjavani, he’s a Canadian who Hill became aware of when he was working with fellow DP World Tour player Yannik Paul. “It’s been good,” he said of that new partnership, having previously worked with David Burns on his swing. “We’ve made a few changes and there’s been good communication between us, having started working together shortly after Wentworth last year. I like the work he’s got me doing and it seems to have a good outcome.

"He doesn’t let me do too much. It’s like, ‘do this right now and don’t worry about the rest’. I’m quite picky and like to know all the details, which can maybe lead to you getting in your own way sometimes if you are getting too far ahead of yourself. It’s been very simple, straightforward and has produced some decent outcomes as far as I feel. I’m now just waiting for the results to come.”

In another change, the Gleneagles Hotel-attached player now has fellow Scot Mike Thomson on his bag after parting ways with Phil ‘Wobbly’ Morbey. “Mike has been brilliant,” said Hill of Bob MacIntyre’s former caddie. “It’s a different dynamic from what I’ve had in the past. He’s really good. He’s great on the course as he is easy to get on with and keeps the energies light, which is quite good for me as I sometimes get down out there a little bit and he keeps it very positive.”

Hill won three times on the Challenge Tour before earning his step up to the main tour in 2020. He’s finished in the top 55 in the Race to Dubai in his three seasons so far sitting at the top table but last season’s narrow failure to make the year-ending DP World Tour Championship was a disappointment.

“I found last year really frustrating,” he admitted. “The good is always going to be quite good, but there were too many peaks and troughs. It was very up and down. One week would be good but the next would be rubbish. It was too volatile for me. Even on that kind of side, the start of this year is more positive. These are not particularly impressive results, but there’s a consistency there, which is better. If these can be your poor weeks and your better ones can be kicking doors on top tens, then that’s brilliant.”

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Hill became Scottish golf’s forgotten man in 2022 after an insect bite playing in Spain weakened his immune system and led to him suffering nerve damage in a sensitive place. He tried to make a comeback only to be forced to pull out after just one round and played under a medical exemption last season.

“Last year, after coming back from being out for so long, it probably wasn’t the worst thing in the world as there was lots of good in there,” he said. “I’m doing good now and that’s the main thing as it means I can get back into the gym and practising as hard as I can and not worry about the body. Time spent is no longer a problem, which is good.”

In the first DP World Tour event to be held in Bahrain for 13 years, Hill is flying the Saltire at a revamped Royal Golf Club along with Richie Ramsay, Grant Forrest, Connor Syme, Scott Jamieson, David Law and Stephen Gallacher.

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