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Tuesday, May. 21, 2019
Tristan Renaud and the pursuit of the perfect round of golf
by Randy Pascal

Tristan Renaud is now getting really serious about his golf game, which for those who fully understand the 17 year old’s previous devotion to the sport, is really saying something.

The Lockerby Composite senior’s meteoric rise hit completely new levels in 2017, highlighted in part by a dominating victory posted at the Ontario Junior Golf Championships, and an equally impressive performance in becoming the youngest champion ever in the long and storied history of the Idylwylde Invitational.

“During the season, last year, I was a little more focused than I was the previous year,” said Renaud. “I practiced a little bit more, I figured some stuff out on my own, and kind of like refined my game. I think this year, the increase in how much I’m practicing and playing in the off-season is dramatic.”

By all accounts, Tristan Renaud could live, eat and breathe golf. While his 24/7 affinity for the sport was initially spurred on by a pure love of the game, a passion that remains undiminished, the pensive young man also understands the road that must be travelled as the mean’s to an end. It’s an approach that he believes can help separate him from the pack.

“When I first started playing golf, I looked at the TV and saw hundreds of tour pros that were able to hit their targets consistently, and I kind of asked myself, “why is it that they are able to do that and I can’t?” It’s become very clear to me that they are ordinary people, but they put in ten of thousands of hours of practice, and that’s all that it is. That’s the only reason that they can hit their targets consistently.”

The truth is that it would be unfair to suggest that there is not a natural ability in play for the young Sudbury phenom, certain elements of golf to which he seemed almost immediately pre-disposed. “Just being able to strike, to stand over the ball, look at the target and just put it where I want it to go more times than not,” suggested Renaud. “When I started playing, I could make pretty good contact, breaking 90 consistently after playing golf for not even a year.”

“I think in that respect, that’s where my talent was – but I’ve worked on it a lot. It takes a lot of time and practice, but it takes a lot of failure too. You need to learn a lot of things before you can get good at this game.” His time and commitment to his craft amped up even more this current off-season, Renaud finds himself splitting time between regular jaunts south of the border, accessing venues unimpeded by the geographic/weather realities of Northern Ontario.

And when in town, his daily routine almost always involves a visit to the simulators housed at Pro Golf Liquidators on Maley Drive. While nothing can substitute actual time on a course, Renaud is thankful that he can still work his game even as snow continues to accumulate on the grounds outside. “It’s not playing golf, it’s playing golf swing, as far as I’m concerned,” he noted. “It’s very similar to be out of the range.”

“As far as getting reps in, I think it’s very good. There’s obviously a bit of an adjustment that needs to be made outside, but in terms of just ball striking and stuff like that, I can keep it pretty close to what it’s going to be in the summer.”

And therein lies perhaps the biggest difference, year over year, in the status of his development, certainly in the eyes of the man who has evolved with an uncanny knack of self-assessment. “I’m not trying to just maintain what I had last year, I’m trying to build on it,” explained Renaud. “In that respect, it’s pretty exciting. I feel right now, I’m at a point where I was mid-season last year.”

For the 99.99% of mere mortals who suffer through the humility that an average round of golf can provide, the attention to detail that creates the end goal to which Renaud can realistically strive is almost beyond comprehension. Yet it is one to which he speaks with in grounded and simple terms, almost a matter-of-factly statement that this is the path that must be travelled to success.

“If I’m not hitting it to within ten feet from anywhere, then it’s not good enough,” he said. “I think it’s realistic to say – that’s what you need to do to be on tour, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

And so the work continues, breaking down each and every facet to the fine minutia that is the world in which those in the stratosphere that Renaud wishes to travel must aspire. “Anybody who has watched me play golf will tell you that my ball striking is the best part of my game,” he stated. “My iron game and off the tee is what sets me up.”

“The thing that I have been lacking the past couple of years is on the greens and around the greens. It’s the thing that I am not able to practice the most in the winters. When I go on my trips, I spend a lot of time on the greens.”

If Renaud’s greatest source of pride lies in the dedication that he displays continually in trying to reach his full potential, a secondary source comes via the very homegrown foundation upon which all of this is being built.

“I taught myself how to play golf,” he asserted. “I take a lot of pride in the fact that my swing’s authentic. I’ve progressed a long way, and still have a long way to go, but I think the fact that I have come this far on my own is pretty cool.”

“When I don’t do something perfectly, I pretty much know exactly what I did. A golf swing is kind of like carving an ice sculpture,” added Renaud. “If you have a really good foundation, then it’s really easy to work with. The ice chisels away nicely when you put in the work. I think that’s what I am still doing, and I am still far away from where I think I can be.”

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