Radio star Mark Chapman’s roving brief at the Open Championship resulted in a boost to his golf skills after he was given a lesson by PGA professional Danielle Wilkinson.
The BBC 5 Live presenter, known as ‘Chappers’, had an on-air lesson with Wilkinson, at the R&A SwingZone in the tented village at Royal Lytham & St Annes. Also making an appearance at the SwingZone was Prince Andrew, Duke of York, who stopped to watch PGA pros giving free lessons to spectators.
Wilkinson, based at The Golf Academy in Wolverhampton, found herself broadcasting to millions of listeners as they heard her put Chapman through his paces.
“I was a bit nervous but I had the opportunity to talk to him beforehand and he was really nice about what we were doing and it was great to be able to tell all the listeners about what PGA pros can do with lessons for golfers of all abilities,” said Wilkinson who is also PGA regional development officer for the north.
“He was interested in the swing and asked what the most common faults were that we found which is generally the basic fundamentals of grip, stance and set-up. He also said he could see there were hundreds of kids playing golf here and that they were in safe hands.”
More importantly she also had some encouraging words for the broadcaster on his golfing ability.
“Mark could be quite good with a few lessons and the right advice. There were a couple of faults in his set-up but there’s plenty to work with.”
Friday was designated ‘ladies day’ at the SwingZone with a special drive to get more women into the game. Dozens of pink caps were given to all the women and girls who took a lesson.
Among those trying golf for the first time were Jane Coutts from Liverpool and her friend Grainne Underwood who lives in Spain. Both teed it up for the first time and enjoyed their lessons.
“I never played before but was excited to have a go,” said Underwood. “It has definitely encouraged me to play again; it was much easier than I thought it would be because of the way I was taught.”
Coutts added: “I have been to the driving range once and I think I nearly broke my elbow because I hit the floor so many times. I never really thought about going back but this was great. I never thought golf would be as hard work as it was but in my lesson once I was taught how to stand, line-up and swing I was able to relax and then I thought this is good, it was hard but easy too.”
A team of 20 PGA professionals gave more than 2,500 free lessons during Open Championship week.
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