A Rising Star

If I were a golfing soothsayer, I’d predict great things for Tomás Bessa. Since turning pro in 2018, he has steadily increased his standing amongst his golfing peers whilst progressing through the professional ranks. 

This year, Tomás starts on the European Challenge tour and few will be surprised if he achieves his main goal of DP World tour membership in 2024. He is, without doubt, a player to look out for.

Having watched him practising and working with his coach Gonçalo Pinto, it is easy to see what a great talent he is. When Pinto indicates he thinks his ball striking is right up there with the global best, it is near impossible to find anyone who will disagree. He is also incredibly powerful and is in the top 10 of the longest hitters in European golf, which is more than impressive.

I caught up with Tomás to talk about his career to date and, more importantly, his ambitions for the future. What I learned was that here is a guy with a very clear game plan and a total commitment to doing what it takes to achieve some lofty but very realistic goals.

Originally from Porto, Tomás comes from a very sporting family. His mother represented Portugal at volleyball and his father, while never excelling in one particular sphere, was also a very active sportsman. “My early golf was walking around the course with my father. My interest developed and by the age of six, I was hooked. I was pretty big as a child and so could always hit the ball a long way.”

Tomás showed his potential early on and by the time he was 12, he was playing off 3 or 4. Even at that early age, he was representing Portugal internationally – something he would continue to do until he turned pro. By the age of 16, he was off +2 and at 18, he was off +4.

“I was also very keen on handball and at one stage, I was playing both handball and golf for Portugal. I nearly gave up golf for handball as things were going well for me but by the age of 18, I’d decided on a golfing career.”  

Tomás turned pro in 2018, aged 22. At this time, the realisation of the gulf between elite amateur and professional sank in and the real hard work began.

He started working with European Tour coach Steve Bainbridge at Cascade Resort in Lagos and had it not been for COVID and an enforced return to the UK for Steve, their partnership would almost certainly have continued. 

“Steve was a hard taskmaster and, along with swing technique, was extremely focused on physical fitness. I worked very hard for him and thankfully, his initial negative, albeit tongue-in-cheek “barbs” began to change to much more positive and encouraging comments. In the first two years with Steve, I played less golf and worked really hard on my technique. By that time, I knew what had to be done to improve all aspects of my game from tightening up my dispersion rate to improving my short game and of course, my putting.

Tomás did not have to look very far to find a replacement coach for Steve Bainbridge. Enter Gonçalo Pinto. Gonçalo had initially been working with Steve on his own game with a view to progressing to tournament golf, but the combination of COVID and Steve’s return to the UK saw his career move into coaching. Not quite a poacher turned gamekeeper, but certainly a change in direction which led to Tomás joining several professionals working with him.

“It was an easy decision to make in moving to Gonçalo. I had known him for a number of years and anyone in Portuguese golf is aware of his golfing pedigree. He has the same teaching methods as Steve, so I am very happy with the transition.”

In 2022, Tomás’s golfing potential became clear with his first win on the Alps tour (the tour one level below challenge) where he finished 7th. This result, along with other invitations, such as the Portuguese Masters, raised his ranking, making him eligible to play nearly all of the challenge tour events.

As our interview ended, I had one last question: how much emphasis Tomás would put on the mental aspect of the game. “I’ve been working with a mental coach for the past year or so and Steve Bainbridge was very helpful also. As Steve would say, if you have a good and proven technique, then the expectation should always be for a positive outcome regardless of the shot. There is no room for negativity. The same applies if you hit a bad shot. I had a habit of reacting badly if I hit a poor shot. Accepting that this happens to everybody allows you to move on and not be too down on yourself.”

I’m hoping for great things for Tomás in 2023. His hard work has maximised his outstanding talent. Tomás Bessa is certainly a name to look out for.


Share this edition