A boy from a Skegness council estate who swapped his bike for a three wood has gone on to achieve the PGA’s highest accolade – Master Professional status.
The boy was Jonathan Yarwood, who now has three successful academies, two in the UK at Stoke Park, near Windsor, and Donnington Grove, Newbury, and one at The Concession GC, Sarasota, Florida, where he has lived for the past 15 years.
At just 41, Yarwood has achieved notable successes in his career including coaching a record five USGA champions – among them US Open winner Michael Campbell – along with two US Amateur champions and two US Girls champions, four No.1 US juniors, while he has guided winners on the USLPGA, USPGA, European, Challenge, Asian and Australasian tours among the 123 titles his pupils have won.
He joins an elite band of PGA professionals across the globe to attain the PGA’s top award, including his former mentor David Leadbetter, Pete Cowen and John Jacobs.
“I had a tear in my eye when I read the letter informing I was a PGA Master Professional as it was recognition from peers and my own Association,” said Yarwood, whose recognition Stateside includes being voted a Top 20 teacher under 40 by Golf Digest and Best Teacher in State (Florida) for 10 years straight.
“It is a milestone in my career to have achieved something amazing. I’ve seen some incredible places, travelled around the world, sometimes in the luxury of a private jet, and coached major winners but to get recognised as a master of your profession really is an honour.”
Guiding Campbell to his US Open win, just three months after the pair teamed up, is one of Yarwood’s career highlights but he has coached a string of winners at all levels. He has his three successful academies either side of the Atlantic and is in demand from the media with hundreds of published articles in titles across the world plus considerable TV work with Sky Sports and the Golf Channel UK.
Yarwood’s elevation is evidence that reaching the top as a PGA professional is attainable from humble roots, having begun as assistant at North Shore and then Seacroft, both in his home town of Skegness.
But he revealed how a series of free lessons and an inspirational PGA professional provided the two key factors in choosing his career path.
“I used to live by a golf course but coming from the local council estate could not afford to play. I used to share a three wood with a group of friends which we hit on a football pitch,” he said.
“I was fascinated by the club and swapped my bike for it. I would practise with it all the time. But what made it possible for me to have a career in golf was a local assistant pro. He put on some free lessons, which gave someone like me, who could not afford them, a chance to learn more. I showed an aptitude for the game and the pro took me under his wing and it went from there.
“But you look at the Association and the logo that the PGA pro is the heart of golf, well that was the case back then as it is now. That PGA pro made a difference and everyone coming into the golf profession can do the same.
“If I can come from a Skegness council estate begin as an assistant teaching club members and rise through the ranks to teaching major winners and tour players and becoming a Master Professional then anyone can do it with hard work and reasonable talent.
“In my academies, where we’re teaching beginners to tour players, we’re in a position where we can inspire and really make a difference to people.”
The PGA Master Professional award is the highest accolade from the PGA’s Accreditation for Prior Achievement and Learning panel. A Master Professional is given to PGA members held in high national or international esteem and that have made a significant contribution to the development of golf.