While young guns Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth capture the headlines on the course at Royal Troon, a team of PGA Professionals are sprinkling their own brand of magic during The 145th Open at The R&A’s SwingZone.
The 23-strong group of coaches are camped at the popular game improvement centre, delivering thousands of free lessons to spectators of all ages and abilities.
Each of the 15 minute sessions with the experienced and talented coaches includes video analysis and follow up notes to take to their local PGA pro.
Among the coaches casting an expert eye is PGA Fellow Professional Peter Ball (Balborough Links) who took Masters’ champion Danny Willett under his wing when the Yorkshire ace first took up the game.
Familiar faces include Denise Hastings (Denise Hastings Golf Schools), Jamie Cundy (Dudley) and Alan Bradshaw (Bootle) while PGA Master Professional John Mulgrew (Airdrie) is also part of the coaching contingent who will be working daily throughout the week from Sunday through to Sunday of championship week from July 10-17.
And while the coaching is a big attraction to the thousands of spectators at The Open it is also eagerly anticipated by the pros as Mulgrew confirmed.
“The great thing is that there is a lot of camaraderie among the coaches and it is also a lot of fun,” he said. “And while making the experience fun is important there is also a serious element to it. Fifteen minutes isn’t an awful lot of time but if you can get people interested and it stimulates them to go back to their local clubs and play then that is a real positive.
“This is especially so if you are giving beginners a first taster of golf and are able to show how enjoyable it is so they will want to come back.
“I always remember years back a disabled lad with special needs came along and had his first try and he came back the following year and he was hitting the ball great and had taken the game up so it’s great from that point of view.”
The SwingZone includes nets plus a purpose built all-weather Huxley Golf putting surface in front of the zone which Mulgrew says is a great boost.
“The putting area is fantastic because people can see us coaching and it helps break down any barriers and perceptions they might have and hopefully makes the whole idea of coming for some coaching very approachable and relaxed,” he added.
Alison White, Assistant Director – Golf Development at The R&A, added: “The R&A Swingzone is a hugely popular facility at The Open and offers a unique opportunity for spectators to benefit from free expert tuition being delivered by the PGA teaching professionals.
“We look forward to welcoming golfing enthusiasts young and old to The R&A Swingzone for a free lesson when The Open returns to Royal Troon from 14-17 July.”
The full complement of PGA pros at Royal Troon is: Denise Hastings (Denise Hastings Golf Schools), David Playdon, John Mulgrew (Airdrie), James Crawford (West Sussex), Peter Ball (Balborough Links), Jamie Cundy (Dudley), James Morrow (Chartham Park), Geraint Dixon (Bedfordshire), Lee Day, Chris Hattersley (Kingsway Golf Centre), Alan Bradshaw (Bootle), Mark Taylor (Alvaston Golf Centre), Andrew Simmonds (South Buckinghamshire Academy), Allan Martin (Buchanan Castle), Craig Gornal (South Buckinghamshire Academy), Oliver Barnes (Mere), Martin Goldie (Bishopbriggs Golf Range), Marcus Bell (Bawtry Golf Academy), Robert Collinson (Bearsden Golf Range), Garry Forrester (St Andrews Golf School), Tom Gibbs (Three Hammers), Scott Clelland (Hayston) and Sam Johnston (Tidbury Green).