Seve – Part 1: Introducing the great man


Seve. [Photo:]


Connor Schmidtke, who is in the final year of his Deakin Uni course, begins his eight-part series on Seve Ballesteros.



Growing up playing golf, I often failed to get a ball out of a bunker. I’d duff a chip shot on approach to the green. Like many novice golfers, holding a wedge in my hand caused plenty of nervous moments and shaky shot choices.


I spent many hours surfing the internet and watching YouTube, looking for tips to help my game from some of the best to ever do it.


Through some old golfing highlights, I quickly developed an idol. Not only was this man one of the greatest golfers of all-time, he was one of the most loved characters that golf has ever seen.


This year marks ten years since the golfing world lost one of its icons.


Severiano Ballesteros or ‘Seve,’ as he is still commonly known,  remains one of the greatest golfers to have ever stepped onto the professional circuit.


What set Seve Ballesteros apart from other great golfers was his character on and off the course. Through his grace, kindness, charisma and flare, Seve became almost impossible to dislike and is still one the most highly regarded personalities in the game’s history. His passion for golf was evident from the moment he stepped into the public eye.


Seve was the hero for a large number of current day players, and paved the way for Spanish golf in the modern era.


With Jon Rahm becoming a dominant force in the world of golf, Sergio Garcia winning consistently, and others such as Rafa Cabrera-Bello creating headlines, Spanish golf is becoming a modern-day powerhouse. All these players have openly discussed their love for Seve and the way he played the game.


Through so many career highlights, monumental wins and Ryder Cup triumphs, it’s important not to forget the incredible backstory that lead to one of the greatest professional golfing careers.








Seve grew up in Pedrena, a small fishing village in northern Spain.


From the age of six, Seve developed his fascination and love for the game through his family golfing heritage. He used to love watching his Uncle Ramon play and learned a lot by watching him practice. Ramon Sota was a European Tour professional predominantly during the 1960s and 70s, giving Seve a someone on whom he could model his game.


Using a broken 3-iron attached to a stick at just six years old, Seve would hit pebbles around on the local beach in Pedrena where he would develop his creativity and imagination, the areas that would become the trademark of his career.


At this time, Seve was rarely able to play at the local Royal Pedrena Golf Club, so he had to find creative solutions to sharpen his skills.


He practised his craft in the field behind his house, using a tomato tin and handkerchief on a stick as his target. For full swing shots, Seve said he would hang up fishing nets in the stables at his home, allowing him to practise all areas of his game whenever he could.


From the ages of nine to fifteen, this is how Seve developed his game. Seve was encouraged by his parents, his Mother Carmen and Father Baldomero, who both worked the land that they lived on, reared cows and went fishing. Seve grew up with his three older brothers in the house also, who were all sports mad and helped develop his passion for golf.


All of Seve’s brothers became professional golfers at some point of their lives, so it was fair to say the golfing gene ran through the Ballesteros family.


Despite restricted access to the proper course at Pedrena, Seve still found a way to sneak on and get his practice in. He cheekily confessed that he used to spend hours on the 2nd hole at Pedrena Golf Club, because it ran along the road which gave him easy access and it was out of sight from the clubhouse.


Seve’s first real experiences of Royal Pedrena Golf Club came through caddying. The golf club always had work for people who wanted to pick up some money, offering employment and a small pay-check to those who needed it. Seve’s brothers all spent time as caddies at different points of their lives and Seve followed suit as a junior.


Seve entered his first caddy tournament at Royal Pedrena at the age of ten, shooting 51 in the nine-hole competition. By the age of 13, Seve shot 65 for 18 holes and the potential started to become clearly evident.


Ballesteros’ creativity and imagination were what made him so beloved by fans, a true joy to watch on the course. These skills were honed during his rapid rise as a junior, coming so far in such a short amount of time to begin an electrifying career.


In the blink of an eye, Seve decided to turn professional just before his 17th birthday which commenced the 33-year career of an all-time great.


Over the next two years, Ballesteros failed to make a major splash on the professional circuit. Aside from a victory in the Under-25s’ Spanish Championship at Pedrena, Seve only managed a few good finishes on the Northern Spain circuit and a Tied-Fifth Internationally at the Italian Open.


After treading water for the two years following his decision to turn professional, the time came for Seve Ballesteros to make a statement and introduce himself to the golfing world.


The 1976 British Open at Royal Birkdale was his moment.


At the time, Seve was 19 and competing in just the second major championship of his career. His first appearance was the year before at the 1975 British Open, at Carnoustie, where he missed the cut.


After an opening two days where he posted 69-69 for a -6 total, Seve held a two-stroke lead and had put the golfing world on notice.


After maintaining this two-stroke lead going into the final round, Seve had a Sunday to forget, falling to +7 through his first 12 holes before rallying late to finish in a Tie for Second with Jack Nicklaus.


Despite the final day stumble, Ballesteros had arrived on the global stage.


Following that final round, Sports Illustrated golf writer Dan Jenkins wrote: “The world may not hear more from Severiano Ballesteros, he of the strong left grip, the wristy swing, the whiplash of a full swing and the nose for always finding the golf ball in the bushes.”


Jenkins would soon realise the inaccuracy of this quote.


This was the beginning of the brilliant career of Severiano Ballesteros.




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  1. John Butler says

    A great man to write about, Connor.

    Seve was a swashbuckling figure in sports.

    His rise to prominence would have also meant a lot to Spain, which was only recently emerging from the long shadow of Franco.

    Look forward to the rest of the series.

  2. Great idea for a series Connor. I look forward to where it goes next. So sad that Seve died at 54.

  3. What an awesome piece.

    Brilliant writing about a brilliant man.

  4. Seve was extraordinarily charismatic; incredibly gifted (particularly with his short game) and the greatest fun to watch at his best. Fascinated to see where you go in the 7 parts to come. He was by no means a saint; and the love from fellow players (particularly Americans) came late in his career (or after his death). Same with his personal life. He was a fierce competitor (taking ‘gamesmanship’ about as far as you can in golf).
    The light and the shade in his character all makes sense when you understand his background and life experiences. For example his family were Royalists/Franco supporters in the Basque region that is heavily Republican.
    Hope your digging takes you to Mike Clayton (who adores Seve) and is a font of wisdom in all things golf. There are some wonderful podcasts about Seve, and a million extraordinary stories of his deeds. Look forward to reading your take on him Connor.

  5. Ian Hodgson says

    Ian H says.
    A truly outstanding contribution highlighting an amazing personalities life, not only as a golfer but also as an
    example of humanity at its best. Vale Seve.
    Congratulations Connor as you step out into the world of opportunity.

  6. Ten years has flown by, Connor.
    Nice start to the series.

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