Look up 'consistent' in the dictionary and there very well might be a picture of San Francisco's Matt Cohn on the page. At the very least, a brief look at his tournament accomplishments over the last three seasons provides a terrific definition of the word.
After his win this past weekend, we caught up with Matt:
amateurgolf.com: Looking at the last three years, you've been incredibly consistent. How do you maintain such a high level of play?
Matt Cohn: I don't really have an ideal setup for practicing golf - I live less than a mile from downtown San Francisco, and although I have a cable car stop at my front door, I don't have a car or easy access to a golf course on a daily basis. As a result I suppose I try to keep things relatively simple in my game. I focus on the basics and that's probably benefitted me in terms of consistency. It also means that I value practice time when I get it, and I usually try to accomplish something with whatever time I have. It doesn't always work. Nobody seemed to notice but I had a terrible one-month stretch prior to winning at Callippe. But playing well again meant getting back to basics rather than making changes or implementing something new. It feels like almost a non-answer to say that I've become more consistent by returning to the same basic ideas over and over again, but the reality is that it's easier to play consistent golf when I'm not spending my limited practice time trying to make big changes in what I do.
AGC: Your recent win at the Pleasanton City Amateur is the latest in what has been a great summer for you. Where are you with your game right now?
MC: It meant a lot to me to earn that win after some real disappointments in June and July, and I hope to carry that into the events that I have remaining this summer. Forgetting about that bad stretch is the best thing that I can do at this point. My success for the remainder of the season is going to depend on how I play from 100 yards and in. I switched to a belly putter in June and it's been a bit hit-or-miss; I feel like I'm still getting to know it. Statistically my play on and around the greens has kept me from having a lot more success this year. That's probably the hardest area of the game to improve with limited practice time, but that's what I'll need to do to have chances to win in my last few events of the year.
AGC: What are your short-term plans/goals? Which events are in the future for you?
MC: The rest of my season includes Mid-Am qualifying, NCGA Match Play, the State Fair, and the Valley Am. Those are all really significant events. I haven't made a USGA event since college, and the Mid-Am is my last opportunity for that this year. NCGA Match Play is our championship. The State Fair is a tremendous field and a great measuring opportunity to measure myself against a lot of excellent players, and the Valley Am is one that I feel I gave away last year. I didn't win an event last year; this year I've won twice so far, and adding a success in any of those events would make this a special year for me. I think how I look back on 2012 is still to be determined.
AGC: What in your preparations has helped you play so well over the last 12 months or so?
MC: I'm fortunate to have a great instructor who has influenced me in a lot of positive ways over the past two years. I've also made a point of learning diligently about the golf courses on which I play tournaments each year, and I know that I've used some of that knowledge to my advantage in the tournaments I've won this year. I think over the past couple of years I've learned some things about how to prepare for tournaments as a mid-am that are different from how I prepared for them when I was in high school or college. If I want to excel at any level, I understand that I need to be not only physically better but smarter as well, both on the course and leading into each event I play.