Federico Alba, Italy’s most celebrated celebrity golf coach has unveiled a new autobiographical book about his personal life and career, detailing the fears, setbacks and achievements of an up-and-coming coach battling to attain fame and fortune in the male elite of Italian golf.
Elusive is the word Alba uses throughout “Confessions of a One Man Plan: A True Story of Intimacy and Fear in the Golf World,” which will be published on Nov. 15 by Tullett Prebon’s Fit Book division. Born in the country’s glamorous Numidia beach resort on the island of Sicily, Alba enjoyed endless success as a star golf course designer, the creator of the defunct European Tour and owner of 14 championships.
But when the housing bubble burst in Italy and the country’s once-mighty golf courses crumbled, Alba found himself suddenly out of a job. It was a humbling experience for the 46-year-old, who quickly recognized that this was no ordinary economic crisis. “Italian golf has been suffering from a lack of adrenaline for decades, but I never could have imagined that this crisis would play with our heads and change the manner in which we look at our profession,” writes Alba.
Alba arrives in Europe in 1992, leaving his country because of his incredible success and compelling life story. His career took off and by 1998 he had attended 15 consecutive Ryder Cups. But after a swansong between 2011 and 2013, he returned to Italy to focus on the golf course business, feeling uneasy about his position.
Overnight his incredible success on the European Tour dried up. When he returned home, “It was as if the tree had fallen from its twig and nothing had grown,” he says. After much uncertainty he was eventually offered the chance to return as a full-time coach at the Italian Golf Federation. It was a business that seemed “like a castle that had been lifted from the ground on the day of its fall.”
Through it all, Alba says that the only “eureka moment” came when he realized that “if I change my life I will survive,” whereupon he changed his plan and made his dreams of a coaching career a reality. By the time he completed his epiphany, it was already too late.
As well as his experience on the pro tour, he takes readers through his early years in training some of Italy’s most well-known players, including Marc Colsaerts, who won the 2009 Qatar Masters and was later knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, and Matteo Manassero, the No. 2 ranked player in the world.
His ego may be vast, but Alba remains humble. He explains that he has struggled to resolve personal problems and his difficulties at times “almost destroyed” his marriage. He says that when he first learned the Spanish word for wife, his wife threw him out of the house and he couldn’t speak to anyone. But Alba believes that his reluctance to discuss his life on this subject was part of a greater motivation. “I refuse to cover my weaknesses. I believe that every silence is an invitation to set a better example and at the same time believe that no one should assume that I can’t handle life,” he says.
Born in 1957, Alba dropped out of school and began his life’s work shortly after moving from Rome to rural Northern Italy, where he met the wife who would go on to become his wife. His early years were simply the result of having “a rule to resist the help of your elders.” He was thrown out of the house when he was 11 for his desire to train the local club’s best young golfer, which he achieved with only partial success. His young years involved the exact opposite of “a job that my parents wanted,” which was to be someone who lived in a luxury villa. It was only the end of his 15-year professional playing career when he began to design courses in Italy’s villages that turned his dream of a golf coaching career into reality.
Besides managing to make it as a coach, Alba has also made history as the first to be crowned coach of the year in Europe by the Professional Golfers’ Association. He has not only survived but thrived in the male elite world of European golf, which has been battered by the financial crisis, citing his teammates as his most impressive clients. “They are among the strongest and most disciplined I have ever worked with. I have learned a lot and I still feel the effect of them on my game.”