Spectators didn’t just lap up Zach Johnson’s thrilling Open victory at St Andrews but also the free coaching sessions delivered by a team of PGA pros at the R&A Swing Zone.
Spectators didn’t just lap up Zach Johnson’s thrilling Open victory at St Andrews but also the week long free coaching sessions delivered by the team of PGA pros at the R&A Swing Zone.
Heather Gaunt, Scotland’s PGA Coach Education and Development Manager, who oversaw the smooth running of the six indoor bays, three outdoor nets and a Huxley putting green, hailed it as another rousing success.
In total 22 PGA coaches from across the UK, gave upwards of 3,000 free 15 minutes in the tented village from beginners right through to elite level and plus handicapper players.
One standout moment came when a dad brought his young lad for his first lesson and was allocated Peter Ball the coach at Balborough Links in Derbyshire and the man who helped coach one of the Open stars, Danny Willett as a youngster.
“One of the best things has been the feedback we have had from the people who’ve had a coaching session,” said Gaunt. “People have actually taken the time to come back and say how great an experience they’d had in the 15 minute sessions.
“We even had one lady who after her lesson played in a Stableford and won, which she put down to the advice she’d been given so it’s been really nice to have people come back and praise the pros.
“Golf still needs to get more women and girls playing and this week was the perfect opportunity for them to have a go.”
Among the coaches dishing out expert insight was Chartham Park’s James Morrow working at the Swing Zone for a fourth time.
“The Open is wonderful and you never know who you are going to get to coach. I had four people who’d never picked up a club before but they went away inspired and are going to start playing so that was great,” he said.
“It’s quite mentally challenging because you are putting a different hat on every 15 minutes in terms of your coaching but it’s always a great learning opportunity particularly meeting and hearing from the other pros how they approach the game.”
Paul Lawrie, the 1999 Open champion who was also among the challengers this time at St Andrews, took time out to salute fellow PGA pros, with a couple of supportive tweets, hashtagged #growthegame
The full list of coaches who deserve praise for helping the 144th Open Championship go with a swing are: Pete Ball (Balborough Links), Alan Bradshaw (Bootle), James Crawford (West Sussex), Jamie Cundy (Dudley), Lee Day (Holme Hall), Geraint Dixon (Bedfordshire), Garry Forrester (St
Andrews), Tom Gibbs (Three Hammers), Martin Goldie (Bishopbriggs), Denise Hastings (Denise Hastings Golf School), Sam Johnson (Fulford Heath), Ben Jones (Garon Park), Graham Mackay (Melville), Allan Martin (Buchanan Castle), James Morrow (Chartham Park), John Mulgrew (Airdrie), Julie Otto (Elie), Steve Scott- Bowen (The Bristol), Andrew Simmonds (South Buckinghamshire Academy), Mark Taylor (Alvaston), Darren Turner (Ingrebourne) and Ron Wallace.
Image of the PGA coaching team at the R&A Swing Zone courtesy of Adrian Milledge.