It was win-win all round for all the PGA Professionals involved at this year’s Open Championship.
While Rory McIlroy’s long time coach Michael Bannon celebrated his protégé’s first Claret Jug at Royal Liverpool a dedicated team of his peers were champions of the R&A Swing Zone giving a record 3,000 free 15 minute lessons during the week.
The 22 PGA pros worked from dawn till dusk at six bays, three driving nets and a purpose built Huxley putting green delivering expert tuition to golfers ranging in age from 3-80 and in ability from scratch golfers to complete beginners.
Many of the lessons were filmed too with more than 1,500 video clips emailed to golfers with a reminder of the key things to work on and to follow up with their local PGA professional.
Justin Branton, The PGA’s regional coach development officer, hailed the commitment and skill of the PGA pros who worked longer hours than ever before to cater for the demand from spectators eager to take advantage of top class coaching.
“As always the coaches have done really well. They have delivered every session, adapting their coaching skills to a broad spectrum of abilities to golfers aged from 3-80.
“They’ve also been out in all weathers and have been a great advert for The PGA and PGA professionals. We’ve coached longer hours with five-and-a-half hour sessions and some pros were doing double shifts.
“The feedback from the public has been fantastic. Every time I’ve asked them they have been overwhelmingly positive and all have been going away with a smile on their faces. We’ve also videoed many of the swings and we’ve emailed around 1,500 clips from the lessons.”
Among the pros in action were Jamie Cundy, a PGA Advanced Professional from the John Letters Academy in Birmingham, and Alan Bradshaw from Formby Hall and Bootle Golf Club.
“It has been amazing and an inspirational experience and the reaction from the people having lessons has been better than usual because often they are golfers who don’t really have lessons,” said Cundy. “Although it’s only 15 minutes they appreciate the input and advice and they are eager to go away and put into action what they’ve learned.
“Everybody leaving the R&A Swing Zone has a better understanding of their swing than when they walked in there and we’ve encouraged them to follow up with lessons with their local PGA pro.”
Bradshaw, who was coaching at his 11th Open, added: “The enthusiasm is infectious. It’s a great arena for coaching and we’ve encountered golfers of all different ages and abilities. I’ve also had people already text me to book a follow up lesson so it’s been a great way of promoting the skill and expertise of PGA professionals.”
Top class coaching remains a driving force of The PGA with a philosophy of Right Coach, Right Time, Right Place which aims to ensure that all golf coaches involved in growing the game are appropriately trained and qualified to coach at their chosen level.
The full list of PGA pros who took part is: Alan Bradshaw (Formby Hall and Bootle), Kevin Caplehorn (Paultons Golf Centre, Southampton), Denise Hastings (Denise Hastings Golf Schools), Geraint Dixon (Bedfordshire), Peter Ball (Barlborough Links, Sheffield), Sam Johnston (Fulford Heath, Warks), Steve Scott-Bowen (Bristol), David Playdon, James Crawford (West Sussex), Jamie Cundy (John Letters Academy, Birmingham), Lee Day (Holme Hall, Scunthorpe), Sid Trench (Salisbury Golf Academy), Darren Turner (Ingrebourne Links, Basildon), Bev New (Lansdown, Bristol), Tiffany MacKenzie (Saunton, Devon), Andrew Simmonds (South Buckinghamshire), Tom Gibbs (3 Hammers, Wolverhampton), Emma Brown (Windmill Golf Academy), John Barclay (Myerscough College, Preston), Matt Turnock (Mottram Hall, Cheshire), Alex White (Romiley, Stockport) and Mark Taylor (Alvaston, Nantwich).
The PGA www.pga.info