Swing king David Leadbetter has picked up another accolade after receiving his PGA Master Professional award at Carnoustie. The Zimbabwe-born coach was presented with a specially inscribed plaque by PGA Captain Parnell Reilly and Association chief executive Sandy Jones.
Leadbetter, who was guiding the challenges of a number of players at the Open, admitted he was delighted with the honour and revealed he was still as passionate about coaching the game as he was as a teenager when he used 1994 Open champion Nick Price as a guinea pig.
“It’s a great privilege,” said Leadbetter. “I think it is something that you aspire to when you first start in the profession – everybody aspires to be the best they can be and obviously to be awarded the highest one that the PGA has to offer is very pleasing and I‘m thrilled about it.
“I joined the PGA back around 1970 when I was 19 so I go back with it a long way,” he added. “At the time I still really wanted to be a player but I loved teaching all along and always had my nose in books and magazines even way back when and the technique side of things really fascinated me.
“It was something that probably affected my playing career because I was so swing orientated and very much a perfectionist and having grown up with peers like Nick Price and Mark McNulty they were handy guinea pigs in those early years.
“Looking back it was great because coaching especially in the upper echelons is still a fairly new approach shall we say.
“OK, Jack Nicklaus had Jack Grout, but I had the good fortune to hook up with Nick Faldo in the mid 80s and that probably helped turn things around with player-coach relationships and from that point on and if you look now there are very few players, especially in the younger ranks, that don‘t have coaches.
“The great thing for me is that you are continually learning, whole new areas are opening up from the mental side to bio-mechanics which is a very exciting area too, looking at how certain techniques work with certain players depending on their build, depending on their mindset.
“These days, there’s a big thing in matching clubs and equipment to players but you are also doing the same thing with techniques, matching swings to players so it’s really fascinating.
“Obviously it was done years ago with Tom Morris who did instruction books and these days it’s a specialised art and it’s been a great journey.”
Paying tribute to Leadbetter Sandy Jones described him as an inspiration. “He’s set new standards for coaches to aspire to and if there was an order of merit for coaches, David would be right up there among the very best,” he said.
PGA Master Professional status is awarded as part of the Association’s Accreditation of Prior Achievement and Learning programme designed to reflect members who have made a significant and outstanding contribution to golf.
David Leadbetter http://davidleadbetter.com