Two leading golf coaches are among the PGA Professionals to be recognised for their expertise in the latest Accreditation for Professional Achievement and Learning (APAL) awards.
Berkshire-based Robert Watts, coach to 2011 Open champion Darren Clarke, and Paul Mitchell, coach to European Tour star Chris Wood, are joined by a number of other PGA professionals in getting their skills acknowledged.
Watts, based at Castle Royle Golf Club near Reading, has been made an Advanced Fellow of the PGA – second only to Master Professional.
Aside from his work with Clarke, 41-year-old Watts, who has his own performance academy, works with a number of Tour players in the UK and South Africa, where he also has a base.
Watts, who singled out being inside the ropes during a practice round at the US Open at Bethpage that included Clarke, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood, is an advocate of self-betterment.
“If you look at the way the golf industry is going I think it is important to be as highly-qualified as you can,” said Watts, who recently had the opportunity to work with the Dutch women’s hockey team.
“I see myself as a performance coach as I recognise that players, particularly at the elite level, are more aware of their long term career path rather than a lesson on a Wednesday for a Thursday tournament.”
Reflecting on his work with Clarke, which would have played a significant part in his APAL application, he said: “Darren is based more in the US now but when he was in the UK the contact we had was massive – more than any other player I have ever worked with in my career. There have been some special moments including the Open and the US Open.”
Mitchell, who has spent his entire career at Bristol & Clifton Golf Club, has been given Fellow of the PGA status. The 37-year-old’s application included a letter of support from Wood, winner of the Open silver medal in 2008 and Tour winner in Qatar a year ago.
He said: “It was really good going back over my career and finding newspaper articles and pictures. You don’t think about it often but it is a good thing to do as you appreciate just what you have done in your career as very much you just go day-to-day.
“I am sure my work with Chris, who I have been working with for 14 or 15 years would have helped. Chris even wrote a letter on my behalf which he didn’t have to do but it was very good of him.
“Aside from working with Chris, I am very busy at the club looking to regenerate the junior section over the next few years and inspire them.”
The APAL panel also awarded PGA Advanced professional status to Richard Booth (Hale), Peter Clarke (Otelfingen GP), Alan Fletcher (Girton), Mark Janes (Chessington), Paul McLoughlin (Lake Malaren), Craig Pollard (Tapton Park) and Ashley Salt (Trentham).
David Colclough, PGA head of member education, said: “The APAL awards recognise the commitment, and above all impact, that many PGA members have in the golf industry, whether as club professionals, coaches, directors of golf and many other roles.
“PGA professionals remain very much at the heart of golf clubs and facilities across the UK and overseas where 1,600 of our members are employed in more than 70 countries around the world.”
For more information on the APAL process and to view the APAL Criteria, download the ‘Industry Guide to PGA Membership available at http://www.pga.info/pga-professional/industry-guide-to-pga-membership.aspx