Legendary coach Butch Harmon has hailed the dedicated PGA professionals who gave a record number of free lessons at the Open Championship.
Harmon, who is the current coach to Phil Mickelson, stopped by the R&A Swing Zone at Royal St George’s where literally hundreds of spectators flocked each day to give their games the once over under the expert eye of qualified PGA pros.
In total there are nine bays plus a purpose built Huxley putting range for the short game and chipping and the pros gave a record 2,400 lessons during Open week.
“I think it is fantastic what the PGA professionals are doing here with the kids and indeed golfers of all ages and abilities,” said Harmon. “For anyone serious about their game tuition with a local PGA professional is the best way to go.
“Getting the basic fundamentals right is so important and if you don’t get it right in the beginning, in the long run it will end up ruining your game. What these pros are doing here, in giving thousands of lessons this week, really is phenomenal.”
The lessons also included a record number given to women.
Jonathan Wright, PGA coach education manager for England, said: “Normally around 10 per cent of the lessons we give at the Open are to women so we decided to bump up that figure.
“It’s really important that more women and girls play golf and we attempted to recruit a record number taking lessons – either to inspire them to start playing or to continue to play to their full potential. We had a record number of women PGA professional coaches helping out last week and matched it with a record number of female participants.”
Among the women to have a 15-minute lesson was Lynne Reeve from Sweetwoods Park in Sussex. The 25-handicapper was brimming with enthusiasm after being put in the expert hands of Windmill Golf Academy PGA pro Emma Brown.
“I was a bit short of confidence,” she said. “So had a lesson with Emma who changed my grip slightly and suddenly it has transformed my game. It was so helpful and has given me a real confidence boost.”
Brown, along with fellow pro Tiffany Woodyer from Saunton Golf Club, was tasked with scouring the Open Championship to encourage women to have a go and saw a positive response.
“With ladies it’s often a case of giving them a confidence booster,” she said. “Initially they can be a bit reluctant. But once they have a go and we share a bit of joke they suddenly realise that, actually, this isn’t too bad and really get into it.”