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What is your role at The Grove?
As Head PGA Golf Professional I’m here to lead the team and ensure we’re delivering exciting and engaging golf programmes, clinics, custom-fittings and tuition for all our guests, whether they’re budding Rory McIlroys, established golfers or trying the game for the first time. It’s hard for newcomers as they really need to have a couple of goes before they get a feel for the game, so I want to make that easier for them. Because The Grove has no members and is open-to-all, we can genuinely focus on the experience we offer every guest.
Where did you join us from?
I was born in Preston, Lancashire, but grew up in the countryside of Cheshire. For me, I was a big lover of football and was introduced to golf at my local pay-and-play course in Sandbach. The rest, as they say, is history. Since qualifying as a PGA Golf Professional, I have been extremely lucky to ‘work’ at some of the world’s best golf destinations. I say work because to me, having a hobby as a job is not a bad reason to get out of bed in the morning. Prior to joining The Grove, I was at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland, and before that, Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland.
Tell us about hosting The Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club this summer
It was fantastic! From seeing the infrastructure arriving, how the stands started to be erected, players having practice rounds, it just added to the magic. During the championship, I can only describe it as bonkers! The course was closed for a few weeks before The Open, so going from seeing nobody to seeing almost 50,000 people a day was crazy. And although the championship days were from Sunday to Sunday, for us, the build-up started in April and finished late August. A particular highlight was having the opportunity to spend time with some of the world’s best golfers. Tom Watson, Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke all hosted clinics during Patrons Day’s, and watching how they practise, hearing about their routines and getting little snippets of what makes them the best was fantastic.
What are your plans for golf at The Grove?
There are a number of ideas in the pipeline. As soon as I arrived at The Grove, I was drawn towards our Tour Truck Experience. What an incredible, truly unique platform this gives us to deliver lessons and custom fittings. Our experienced team of PGA Golf Professionals we will also be looking at how we can take golf into schools and promote the sport at a young age, while also supporting wider initiatives from golf’s governing bodies.
What are your lasting memories of your early days learning the sport?
I actually didn’t pick up a golf club until I was at high school. I’d love to say that I was chipping into washing machines as soon as I could walk (…like Rory McIlroy) but, instead, I was knocking holes through the fence in my back garden. This was when my mum introduced me to the driving range! My love of the game started to develop as I reduced my handicap, winning a few regional amateur competitions before deciding to begin my PGA (Professional Golfers’ Assocation) training.
Why do you love golf?
I can’t think of one other sport where you have the opportunity to re-create a moment, or a shot that you’ve seen on TV. You can’t go to The Oval and play cricket, you can’t go to Murrayfield and play rugby, you can’t go to Wimbledon and play tennis. Golf affords you the opportunity to experience the very same courses that legends of the game have played. It is so special to walk in the footsteps of your heroes and attempt to recreate moments of sporting history. I also love golf because you are constantly striving to perform and better yourself. Unlike many other sports, you can also keep playing when you’re in your 60s, 70s and, hopefully, 80s!
Best moment of your career so far?
In the winter of 2018/19, a member of Royal Portrush Golf Club asked me to help him with his swing. Unbeknown to us both, we started an incredible journey. At the start of the season, he entered a qualifying competition for The R&A’s 9-Hole Challenge and after his round I recall him walking into the Golf Shop and saying just three words: “I played well”. Later that evening, I learned that he’d actually won the event, and qualified for the Championship to be played over nine holes, at Royal Portrush Golf Club the week before The Open. On Saturday 13th July 2019, out of 40,000 entries, there were 42 players (21 teams) playing for the Championship, including the gentleman I had coached. To crown an incredible journey, his team went on to win. For me, being involved in that experience, will always be a career highlight.
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Or call 01923 296010
Or call 01923 296010