Former Wales golfer Natasha Gobey has had such an impact in the 18 months she has been back as a club professional that she has now claimed the Wales Golf PGA Pro of the Year Award.
The former Wales squad amateur turned professional after studying in America, then working at The James Andrews School of Golf for seven years and Tony Valentine Golf Centre for six months before returning home to Rhondda and then working at Bryn Meadows Golf Hotel and Spa.
The 28-year-old has demonstrated outstanding success growing the game of golf and to becoming the best coach she can, increasing participation at any club she has been a part of.
Natasha’s commitment to school outreach work has seen Bryn Meadows successfully awarded two Golf Roots grants to continue engaging with over 2500 children from 21 primary schools in the Caerphilly area.
Her work has brought substantial increases to the numbers in weekly coaching at Bryn Meadows, starting with ladies and juniors through the Wales Golf New2Golf scheme but now also including a new men’s group.
Natasha has had a very successful season with the junior membership with Bryn Meadows winning the Golf Sixes League, she also works with Valleys Daffodils and Cambrian Village Trust on a monthly basis to make golf inclusive for all.
She has introduced golf to over 5,000 people in the Caerphilly area, covering Years 3 to 6 in primary school and adults, she has also been nominated for Sports Coach of the Year by Sport Caerphilly.
Natasha was due to collect the award at the Wales Golf Annual Awards Lunch at Celtic Manor, but unfortunately the event has been postponed because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“It feels a bit surreal to get this award, I am really chuffed,” said Gobey. “It is nice to get recognition for something you are passionate about.
“I played for Wales from the age of 13 until I went to the US for a year on a golf scholarship, then came back and turned pro to do the PGA coaching qualifications at The James Andrews School of Golf in East Sussex.
“That was one of the best golf schools in the UK so learnt a great deal there and after seven years and finishing my qualifications I wanted to move back to Wales and enjoy a new challenge trying to get more people into golf.
“Then I ran into David Pocock at a meeting, a former winner of this Wales Golf Pro of the Year award, and he gave me a good opportunity to work with him at Bryn Meadows.
“It makes it easy when the people around you share the same vision as you, my colleague Katy Edwards helps a lot and the management at Bryn Meadows are very supportive and allows me the support system and time to continue the drive in the local community.
“I just love golf. The club’s ladies and junior golfer numbers seemed to be going down so I was keen to pick that up and to be the driving force.
“One of the key focuses was to break down the barriers that golf faces such as it being seen as expensive and unwelcoming so getting involved in the local community and inviting them up to Bryn Meadows was my biggest focus.
“We had 30 ladies joining the New2Golf membership, now there are more than 100 kids and 20-30 adults coming to coaching on a weekly basis.
We offer taster sessions and affordable coaching that include an hour a week in a group and thirty minutes on the simulator a month. We currently run 15 group coaching classes a week between us with lessons on top of that. We can develop players through the academy course before moving onto the big course and we have done well developing them through to membership. We started a men’s New2Golf last summer which has been successful. We also run inclusive coaching schemes with Valleys Daffodils”
Of course these are difficult times in all golf clubs because of the coronavirus outbreak, but typically Gobey has a positive message.
“We are good at communicating with our clients and first and foremost I want our clients, family and friends to be healthy,” she said. “Golf will still be there when all this is over and I will be ready to pick up from where we left off and continue to encourage as many people into golf and nurture and drive the golfers we have – but for now everyone needs stay safe. We have to put people’s health and safety before business.”
Wales Golf chief executive Richard Dixon added, “Congratulations to Natasha who has made such a remarkable impact in a relatively short space of time. It is nice to see someone who has come through the Wales Golf system on the playing side, making such a contribution to the development of the sport. We look forward to making the formal presentation of this well-deserved award at an event later in the year.”